Melanie Moore’s business has grown right alongside her students.One of her earliest, is 11-year-old student Riley Lamb. She has helped to guide Lamb’s growth as a person and as an equestrian for most of her life.
Moore said when Lamb first came to her eight years ago, she had sensory-overload outbursts that made it hard for her to ride, but since then she has grown. To be able to go from that “to watching her in a show ring and competing against all kinds of kids with different riding and most more advanced than her, and she can go in there and get a first-place ribbon. It touches you. “
Moore isn’t a registered equine therapist, but she teaches and helps all kinds of kids and adults at her farm, Wonder Horse Farm; hwhich has taken off as a result of a life spent around horses and a passion for them.
“My grand-daddy started taking me to see the neighbor’s horse years ago when I was about four, and it’s just been an addiction ever since,” Moore said.
The family bought the property where they would develop their farm around 2007, allowing her to expand that passion. During her teenage years, Moore started training other people’s horses, and it grew into the business she has today, featuring two breeding stallions, 10 horses total for classes, competitions and training in all aspects of the horse.
“It’s not just get on and ride,” Moore said. “You learn from the ground-up. You learn the care of the horse, the ins and outs of, basically, being a horse owner.
Moore said, at first, clients thought she was too young to train effectively, and being female in a male-oriented world didn’t help, she said. But she has worked to prove them wrong, taking clinics with high-end trainers, learning from training courses and passing that information to her students.
Riley’s mother, Natolie, said “This a major part of her [Riley’s] life, because Melanie’s not just her teacher. My kid loves her just as a person. It’s something she talks about every day. “
Moore hopes to expand into helping and teaching veterans as well.
A small study out of Columbia University in fall 2021 showed equine-assisted therapy resulted in decreases of self-reported PTSD and depression symptoms among veterans.
Moore said there’s a lot of requirements, education and red-tape that goes into offering “official” equine therapy, so it will take time to get it set up, but it’s worth it. For now opens her doors to any veterans who want to ride or just visit, no charge.
“I have always wanted to do something for children especially or veterans that are disabled,” she said. “It’s always been my sweet spot.”
Anyone interested in lessons or just donating to the farm’s efforts can reach out to Moore by calling (912) 536-1599 or going to the Wonder Horse Farm Facebook page.