|Horses in front of French Lick Springs Hotel in the 1920s|
Horses have always been a part of the resort. Stables Ranch Manager Doug Stevens has spent his life in the saddle, so he understands horses. “The horses are also employees here at The Stables,” Doug said. “They have good days, and they have days when they’re tired. You have to learn how to read them and pay attention to what they’re telling you.”
|Howdy is a Belgium Workhorse|
With that in mind, Doug has decided that Howdy, the carriage horse, is ready for some rest, so he will be going into semi-retirement this summer. Howdy, a Belgium workhorse, has been at the resort for twenty years. “He’s spent years pulling the carriage for guests,” Doug said. “He’s probably around 26 years old; that’s about 75 in human years." But Howdy won't be put out to pasture, he'll still work a day or two a week pulling the carriage. "And he can also be used for trail rides. He's a good horse, but he’s due some time off," Doug said.
|A Resort Carriage Ride|
There will be no downtime though; a new carriage horse is waiting to take over Howdy’s rigorous schedule. She is going through training now and will begin taking the load off Howdy this summer.
While Howdy will be getting a long-due rest, a recent addition to the herd that Doug rescued will begin to pull her weight. “We have two ponies that we discovered from a phone call,” Doug said. “One is being trained for the children’s pony rides.”
|Manager Doug Stevens and the new pony|
Doug has rescued over a dozen ponies since he began working for The Stables nearly 20 years. “There are lots of things to consider before you decide to take on a horse,” Doug said. “You can’t just get a horse and let it go. It needs attention and maintenance to be happy and healthy. And, at The Stables, all of our horses and ponies undergo ample training to make sure they are ‘guest-ready.’”
Come visit The Stables at French Lick Resort, home to 28 horses, each carefully selected and trained for trail horses, carriage horses, and ponies for the children to ride. Call to schedule a trail ride, hayride, or family visit. Groups activities are also available. (812) 936-5546.
Written by Joy Neighbors