Levi and I have been married for 9 years. We have an 8 yr old son, Jaden, and a 6 month old daughter, Alexandria. We reside in Cream Ridge, NJ, having moved here from Tennessee in 2010. Dragonfly Stables is the product of a lifelong passion I have had for horses, and have dragged Levi into as well! I have been training gaited horses for over 15 years, after having studied them in the heart of gaited horse country! I have dealt with many gaited breeds, ranging from the more well knowns such as Rocky Mountain, Tennessee Walkers, and Missouri Fox Trotters, to the lesser knowns, like Kentucky Mountains, and McCurdy horses. I also enjoy working with mules, both gaited and trotting! Our training program does not use the heavy shoes, stacked pads, chains, long shanked bits, and so forth that is commonly associated with training gaited horses. Instead we use simple snaffle bits, and focus on developing proper muscle memory, strength and conditioning to get the best possible gaits! It may take longer to set gaits this way, but in the long run, you will have a horse that is naturally gaited without need for certain shoes or equipment to gait properly. We have found that it also makes for a happier horse, without the high head, go go go attitude you find in many gaited horses, and also a healthier horse, with less arthritis and joint issues that often develop in gaited horses whos muscles have not been developed sufficiently to hold up to the physical demands of maintaining their gaits. We do not show our horses, we focus instead on creating awesome trail partners. Our program includes lots of desensitizing both on the ground as well as under saddle. The horses learn how to respect their person, and confidently tackle obstacles that many horses have trouble with. Please contact us for more information on our training program!
I have had a passion for horses since I can remember! I "rode" tree limbs, and stood at pasture fences trying to pet the horses on the other side every chance I got! At 12, my parents bought me my first horse, a giant black draft/gaited cross mare named Tar Baby (may she rest in peace). She was tolerant, beautiful, unflappable, just such a good girl... except that she would take off and not stop until she wanted to, if we tried to canter or gallop!! I had already been riding/training lightly for several years, but it was she that made me realize the importance of how a horses training is carried out, and the effect it has on the horses future. My first inclination was for help from some "horse people", who suggested a very rough bit, which I tried, not knowing any better. The bit worked, but I felt bad every time I used it, and a less tolerant horse would not have allowed it. So, I took matters into my own hands, studying every horse book the library had, asking my mom to head the local 4H horse club, watching all kinds of training videos, practicing different methods on my horses and friends, and learning what real horse training was. Within a few months, I was cantering Tar with a halter, and she was stopping beautifully! Starting with Tar, and moving on to other "difficult" horses, I learned very quickly, that training is not as much about the gadgets as the training itself.
Tar was my introduction to gaited horses. It was great that she was multi gaited, because she taught me how to ask for and recognize the smooth gaits. I went on to work for a walking horse barn, caring for and riding TWH show horses, including a few performance or padded horses. I did not like the padded horses at all, it felt un natural, and the horses seemed so unhappy, that I made the decision to steer away from that venue. I was slightly aware of the soring issue with padded horses, but since that particular barn did not sore their horses, I did not see it first hand for another several years. My next job was at a barn riding Missouri Fox Trotting Horses during their off season to keep them in shape. I rode them on trails to allow them to rest their minds from the stresses of the show ring. The man who owned them tutored me on how to recognize and work for the foxtrot. My experience with gaited horses grew from there.
By the time I turned 15, I was well versed in gaited horses having ridden all kinds of them! In the years that followed, I dabbled in barrel racing, dressage, driving, jumping, roping, trick riding, and even developed a liking for working with mules! I still love barrel racing, and also continue to take jumping lessons, but settled into focusing my training on trail horses, mainly gaited. I have done everything from starting young gaited horses, to re training ex padded horses to become calm, naturally gaited trail horses, to evaluating and selecting gaited horses for buyers.
Levi came into the horse industry by marrying me! He had no idea what he was getting into! Levi has learned much about horses, and thrown himself into many horse situations at which he has excelled. He has a natural ability with many of the more "nervous" horses, his calm nature often giving them the confidence they need to get through a "scary" situation. Once, we were trail riding down country roads, Levi he was riding a 4 year old gelding (Ice Man), only 30 days from the show ring, a complete basket case! We rode down dirt roads, practicing gait, when without warning, we came upon a pen of hogs! Hogs usually terrify horses, especially, when faced with 40 of them snorting and charging the fence! The seasoned trail horse I was riding, prepared to bolt the other direction! Ice Man, who had been depending on the confidence of his seasoned trail lead horse up to this point, now did not know what to do! He started shaking, all over, and prepared to bolt too! Levi touched his neck, said easy, and they proceeded to lead myself, and my seasoned trail horse for the rest of the ride, because Ice Man was feeling so confident and proud of himself! Natural ability, and connection with a horse is not to be overlooked, and sometimes, it is what it takes to give a horse the bridge to his future, as was with Ice Man, who so bravely conquered hog passing... and is now a field trial horse, with howling hounds, birds flying out around him, and people shooting guns off him!
Jaden is our 8 yr old son, who has followed in our footsteps and developed a passion for horses! Though he has currently chosen to ride jumpers, he is always happy to help us with farm chores, and giving the horses lots of attention!
Our little girl is only 6 mths old, but we do hope she decides to ride with us when she is old enough!