City has close-knit equine community

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Twelve years ago, Denise Stenstrum bought the family’s first horse for her oldest daughter, Donna.

Soon, younger sister Erin began acquiring horses of her own. The family now has seven horses.

“Horses are like a potato chip,” Donna Stenstrum said. “You can’t have just one.”

In addition to their own horses, the family boards horses and hosts show competitions at its Babbtown Road farm. The girls show their horses in amateur competitions across the country.

It is no surprise, then, that the family regularly attends the annual equine educational seminar hosted by the Suffolk Extension Office. This year’s seminar will be held Sept. 1 at the Suffolk National Guard Armory from 4:45 to 8:30 p.m.

Denise Stenstrum said the topics at the seminar are always helpful, both for long-time horse owners and for new ones alike.

“There’s always new people in Suffolk that can use this information,” Stenstrum said.

This year’s topics include equine diseases, training horses, establishing pastures and feeding horses during economically challenging times.

The event is a time for owners to learn more about their horses and visit with other owners in the community, Stenstrum said. The horse owners in Suffolk get along well and help each other out, she added.

“Neighbors help each other in Suffolk, no matter where you are,” she said. “We get a lot of support from local vendors and the Extension service.”

Suffolk is an ideal place for horse owners to live because it combines the rural atmosphere needed to keep horses with resources that are close by, Stenstrum said.

The Stenstrums buy their hay locally to “support what we can here,” Denise Stenstrum said. Farmers Feed and Seed is a helpful resource for horse owners, she said, and the owners can be a good resource for each other.

“There’s a lot of camaraderie with the barns,” Stenstrum said. “Everybody knows everybody with the barns.”

The families who own horses in Suffolk even cheer for each other when at shows together, Stenstrum said. There even is a Suffolk Horse Show Association.

“We do pretty good when we go to shows,” she said, speaking of Suffolk as a whole.

For more information on, or to register for, the equine educational seminar, call 514-4331. Registration is free; however, a $3 donation will be accepted at the event to help cover expenses.