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Taking care of horses no easy task

Photo by Jeylin White
Ozzy is one of the many horses on site for lessons at LS Quarter Horses in Hampton.

Photo by Jeylin White Ozzy is one of the many horses on site for lessons at LS Quarter Horses in Hampton.

HAMPTON — Lynn Sowell has loved horses all her life. In fact, they’re how she has made a living for the past 40 years.

“What can I say? I just love them,” Sowell said with a big smile.

She’s the owner of LS Quarter Horses in Hampton, providing riding lessons to adults and children.

“I get people all the time, wanting to learn how to ride,” she said.

Sowell said that’s the bulk of her business income. Before the economic downturn, she said she would sell and breed horses to sustain her business. But, now she relies mostly on riding lessons.

“People aren’t buying horses like they used to,” she said.

There was a time she could sell a horse for anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000.

“Horses are not cheap,” Sowell said. “They are very expensive to take care of.”

One of her pet peeves, she added, is people don’t understand the care that goes into training and grooming horses.

Sowell houses anywhere from 25 to 30 horses at her barn — half are ponies. She feeds them twice a day, with two bags of grain — each costing $12 a day — and two bales of hay at $6 per bale.

“It can get very expensive,” she said. “It costs me thousands and thousands of dollars a month.”

In addition to making sure the horses are fed, she said she also has to make sure their health is in order.

“All horses are required to have a Coggins test in Georgia,” Sowell said, referring to a exam that detects whether a horse has equine infectious anemia — which is often fatal. “They all have to have a yearly shots.”

She said this costs about $75 a year to do.

“Most people don’t know that horses look strong, but they are very fragile,” she said.

She added the horses usually die from belly colic, or intestinal track complications.

“It’s serious business taking care of horses and you have to know what you are doing,” she said.

However, Sowell said she has a good team of helpers at her ranch.

She has six part-time employees who give lessons. Her daughter Brandy and her two children help with feeding and cleaning the horses.

Sheldon Akins, a.k.a Nuke, breaks in all the ponies, so they can be used to give lessons to children.

Akins has been riding at the ranch since he was 2 years old and rode his first horse by himself when he was 4.

“It comes easy to me,” said the 18-year-old. “I don’t have any special methods. You just have to be patient with the horses.”

Akins said he considers himself a cowboy.

“I compete in a lot of rodeos,” he said.

Brandy said she likes to see the special-needs children come out and ride the horses.

“They have a really great time out here,” Brandy said. “There are just like everybody else when they’re on those horses.”

Sowell said, for the first time, she would like to host a summer camp for the youngsters.

She said she is looking to do it around the second week in June.

“We will see how it goes,” she said.

Her hope is that is will go very well since she gets a lot of business from Dutchtown Elementary School and Middle School during the spring and summer months.

“They have been really good to me over the years,” Sowell said.

Those interested in lessons can call 678-612-8467. Lessons are offered Monday through Saturday for $30 an hour. Sowell requires all riders to wear boots with heels and a hard helmet for safety.