2012-06-22 / Front Page

Teaching top priority at equestrian center

Camp Ketcha program provides ‘fun, inviting, safe atmosphere’
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Sophie Poirier, left, rides Bo and Cady Flaherty rides Lulu at the Camp Ketcha Equestrian Center on Spurwink Road on Monday, June 18. The center will be busy this summer working on equestrian skills with horseback riders of all ages. (Michael Kelley photo) Sophie Poirier, left, rides Bo and Cady Flaherty rides Lulu at the Camp Ketcha Equestrian Center on Spurwink Road on Monday, June 18. The center will be busy this summer working on equestrian skills with horseback riders of all ages. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough Downs is not the only place in town to see the bond between humans and horses. Less than five miles away from the harness race track sits the Camp Ketcha Equestrian Center on Spurwink Road.

The equestrian center, located just north of the camp’s main Black Point Road entrance, offers year-round horseback riding lessons, horsemanship programs and summer camps for horse riders of all levels.

“We try to put everyone at ease and we are very careful with our horse selection,” said Jessie Bosse, director of the equestrian center.

“We make sure you are comfortable with one skill set before moving on to another skill and do it in, I think, a fun, inviting, safe atmosphere. My instructors are very careful working with people who may be afraid of certain things,” Bosse continued.


The Camp Ketcha Equestrian team won 25 ribbons at the Mousam Saddle and Harness Club Show on June 10 in Kennebunk. The team, from left, includes Britta Egeland, Maeve Ratliff, Lizzie Dutton, Jessie Flaherty, Sophie Poirier and Dany Rand and is coached by Cindy Flaherty and Meaghan Martin. (Courtesy photo) The Camp Ketcha Equestrian team won 25 ribbons at the Mousam Saddle and Harness Club Show on June 10 in Kennebunk. The team, from left, includes Britta Egeland, Maeve Ratliff, Lizzie Dutton, Jessie Flaherty, Sophie Poirier and Dany Rand and is coached by Cindy Flaherty and Meaghan Martin. (Courtesy photo) The center, which has 23 horses, employs 10 instructors, including Cindy Flaherty, who works part time teaching lessons and helping to manage the horse barn.

“I love teaching and I love horses,” said Flaherty, who has been riding since she was 6 years old. “It is something I grew up with. It is very rewarding to see kids make progress.”

One of the first people Flaherty introduced to equestrian was her younger sister, Cady, who also works part time at the center.

“I was actually deathly afraid of horses. I wouldn’t even ride a fair pony,” Cady, 16, said. “My older sister got me in to it and I haven’t stopped since.”

Cady now owns her own horse and rides every day, either at Camp Ketcha or at her family’s farm off Payne Road.

While many riders, like the Flahertys, get started at an early age, Bosse said the center sees a good number of adults learning to ride for the first time. Lessons for adults are offered, as well as lessons for parents and children and couples.

“The kids really like that,” Bosse said of the parent/child riding lesson. “They get to share their interest in riding with their parent.”

Flaherty said a typical one-hour lesson – offered 7 to 9 a.m., noon to 1 p.m. and 3:30 to 7 p.m. during the summer months – includes approximately 15 minutes to get acquainted with the horse and getting the saddle and bridle ready, 40 to 45 minutes of riding and five minutes of brushing after the lesson.

Flaherty said through the lessons the riders and horses create a bond they continue to build on.

“It’s a huge confidence builder for a 50- pound child to control a 12,000-pound horse. Our horses are so willing. That’s the great part of riding here. We have such great horses,” Flaherty said.

Aside from lessons, the center offers special equestrian day camps throughout the summer, including junior horsemanship camp for 6- to 8-year-olds June 25 to 29, July 9 to 13, July 23 to 27, Aug. 6 to 10 and Aug. 20 to 24 and horsemanship camps for 9- to 14-year-olds from June 25 to 29, July 23 to 27 and Aug. 20 to 24.

The center also offers a horsemanship camp for 9- to 14-year-olds from Aug. 13 to 17 and a special jumping and dressage camp for 10- to 16-year-olds from July 16 to 20 and July 30 to Aug. 3.

Bosse said all the summer camps are full, but people can still add their names to a waiting list in case an opportunity arises.

This year, Flaherty said the equestrian center decided to expand opportunities for riders by starting the Camp Ketcha Equestrian Team.

“I always remember they were a very friendly show environment,” Flaherty said of the Mousam Saddle and Harness Club. “This year we decided to open it up and bring our kids to events since we had a few kids at the level to compete at shows.”

The first show on June 10 was quite the success for the riders.

“We brought seven riders there and they brought home 25 ribbons, so it was a very productive day,” Flaherty said. The next show the team will compete in will be July 8 at the Mousam Saddle and Harness Club in Kennebunk.

Sophie Poirier, 10, one of the riders who competed in the June 10 show.

“I’ve always loved horses and I love being around them. Riding them is fun,” said Poirier, who rides twice a week.

Poirier’s mother, Caroline Rodrigue, said in the three years her daughter has been riding at Camp Ketcha, it has turned into a second home for both of them.

“We are so happy to have the program here,” said Rodrigue as she watched Poirier ride. “It is like a family here. I feel at home. Even though I don’t ride, I feel welcomed by everyone here. It is a very calming and soothing place to be. The town of Scarborough is so lucky to have a place like this.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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