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Masie Williams with Kansas at the B&W Stables after Williams helped clean up the horse for a showing. Campers feed and water their horses, clean the stables and learn the responsibility of ownership.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Masie Williams with Kansas at the B&W Stables after Williams helped clean up the horse for a showing. Campers feed and water their horses, clean the stables and learn the responsibility of ownership.

Showmanship, responsibility
Week-long riding camp teaches youngsters about caring for horses

By Emily Peck
epeck@decaturdaily.com · 340-2408

HARTSELLE — Giddy up, cowboys, and grab your lassos — or rather, grab your brush and grooming kit.

It’s horse time for children at B&W stables this week in Hartselle.

From 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, participants at the Summer Fun Riding Camp learn the basics of showmanship.

Last-minute brushing and petting takes place before the 5-to-10-year-old girls parade their horses around the arena.

The manes and tails of Cindy, Kansas and Glamour Girl have even been braided to “make them look pretty,” said assistant Regina Head.

Camp director Joyce Webster awards ribbons to children based on the way they’ve handled and taken care of their horses.

Among the deciding factors is cleanliness.

“This isn’t a baby-sitting camp,” said Webster. “These girls work hard.”

Campers feed and water their horses, clean the stables and learn the responsibility of ownership, said Webster.

The hard work is a lot of fun for Betty Jean Matkin.

“I love it,” said Matkin as she cleaned the shoe of Glamour Girl.

“I want to have a horse when I grow up.”

Experienced rider

The 10-year-old is already an experienced rider. Matkin began riding with Webster eight years ago and is a third-generation horse lover.

Matkin’s mother, Laura Lipscomb, and grandmother, Brenda Matkin, both rode at B&W stables.

“Joyce is a very good trainer,” said Betty Jean Matkin, who has placed several times in the state championship.

“She makes all the hard stuff look fun and encourages me to do it.”

Matkin isn’t the only accomplished horsewoman at the camp.

Georgia Williams and her sister Masie Williams have been training with Webster for several years.

At the ages of 5 and 7, respectively, they are both state champions.

Some of the horses have claims to fame. Georgia Williams sits atop Cindy, better known around the stables as the “movie star horse.”

Cindy loves to participate in pageants.

The camp isn’t just for seasoned veterans, however. Newcomers learn the basics along with important safety instructions.

Horse safety

“One of our biggest problems is that kids don’t know safety around horses,” said Webster.

“They can be dangerous animals when they aren’t trained properly.”

Along with safety, showmanship and riding lessons, campers also get to go fishing and make horse-related crafts.

‘Unique adventure’

On Friday, the group will take a “unique little adventure” said Webster.

They will visit the national bridle shop in Lewisburg, Tenn., where campers will learn how halters, bridles and saddles are made.

Webster has been running the camp for 10 years and has been in the horse business for 40 years.

Her son and daughter are both world champions.

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