Sometimes accidents happen. And for Joyce Holland and Rick Morrell, owners of M & H Stables for the past 23 years, a chance request to board a horse belonging to Morrell on Holland’s property turned into a successful business venture.
Joyce Holland, the “H” in M & H Stables, had two horses of her own, when the pastor of her church called her to keep one of his horses on her property. At first, Holland thought Pastor Morrell was kidding around as he often does. But the rest was history, as the two became business partners forming a corporation together, known as M & H Stables, which now operates in their new facility located at 5450 Stable Way in East Naples.
M & H Stables is comprised of 20 acres, and has a solid reputation for caring for local horses and their owners. M & H Stables currently offers 37 stalls for boarding horses, western style riding lessons, and provides equestrian trail rides through the scenic Picayune Strand State Forest.
“We do it for the love of the animals,” said Holland, a local horse expert who nurtures her own horses, as well as tends to those horses belonging to residents who are out of town for the summer. Holland and Morrell also spent this past summer providing riding lessons and horsemanship instruction to local children who enjoyed learning the essentials of Western riding from the duo through a weekly horse camp.
There are four “private road” signs leading up to M & H Stables, which may ward off an unsuspecting visitor. However, the private road offers public access, despite the massive wooden signs along the way. “We tried to remove them, and the signs just kept getting bigger, so we’ve stopped going back and forth with our neighbor,” said Holland.
“We teach total horsemanship here, and I teach all ages as if they had plans to own a horse in the future,” said Holland, who arrives at 4:30 a.m. each day to feed and care for the horses who call M & H Stables their home.
M & H Stables also instructs all ages in the essentials of horseback riding from 7-year-olds up to 90-year-olds.
“Kids have no fear of horses. They just love horses. My 2-year-old granddaughter began to work with horses here. She’s 13 now, and she rides when she comes down,” said Morrell.
Another student of Morrell’s is 81 years old and rides once a week. “He used to ride English style, and I teach him every Tuesday. We start in the arena, and after that, we set out on the trails here.”
Western-style riding taught at M & H Stables presents subtle differences compared to English-style riding. There’s the “walk” which is similar in both English and Western style horseback riding. However, the trot, or jog, with the horse is useful to know in herding cattle on a farm, where the rider sits through the jog on a formfitting saddle, which is specifically designed for long periods of horseback riding over rugged land. Riders also often master the lope technique with their horse in lessons with Holland and Morrell. The lope technique can be slow or fast, depending on the discipline of the horse and rider.
Those interested in trail rides, lessons, and boarding horses can call M & H Stables, to learn more about the rewards of western horseback riding.
For more information, contact M & H Stables at (239) 455-8764 or via the company’s website at www.mhstables.com.