Sun City Center residents get to see trained horses up close and personal
By PENNY FLETCHER
About 30 residents of a Sun City Center assisted living facility and an Alzheimer’s unit got to enjoy a short show given by trained horses belonging to a Riverview resident Aug. 14.
Despite the heat, most of the residents were filled with smiles as Cathy Moore and her troupe of helpers put Aces and Lucky through their paces, showing off their skills, in a program that lasted about an hour and a half.
Aces, a 21-year-old American Paint, is actually 66 in horse years, Moore explained. Still, Aces performed like a playful youngster for the men and women, many of whom had not been in an environment around animals for many years.
Frances Simmons, resident program coordinator for Brookdale, the company that owns the two facilities, Homewood and Clare Bridge Place (and also Freedom Plaza), said she thought the event would be a welcome addition to August’s monthly theme, The Great Frontier.
“Brookdale has themed events throughout the year for the residents to enjoy,” Simmons said. “When I heard about the horses, I thought many of our residents would enjoy a presentation like this, and they did.”
Moore, a retired hair stylist, works occasionally with her friend, Shelby Takala, who is the stylist at the facilities.
“You know how people talk when they’re getting their hair done,” Moore said in a telephone interview prior to the event. “When they found out I had trained horses, a lot of people said they would really like to see them.”
She and her husband Byron are members of the Triple B Riding Club and she is also president of the Friends of the Little Manatee River State Park in Wimauma. Byron and vice president from “Friends,” Judy Everidge, also helped present, transport, and watch over the horses and coordinate the event.
During the presentation, Simmons handed out large cards with numbers printed on them for residents to hold up for Aces to see. Then Moore would ask Aces what the card said, and Aces would paw the ground the right amount of times.
After that a more difficult skill was shown. Two cards were held up at one time and the horse was asked the sum of them.
Again, the totals were all correct.
Aces later “hugged” residents with her neck and bowed on cue.
After this, Moore showed the group Lucky, an 8-year-old American Quarter horse, who she has had just a few years, and residents were given a chance to ask questions about horses, and Moore’s life with them.
She explained that she rode in parades locally and around the state, with the next ones scheduled in Lakeland and Brooksville. When she rides, she dresses in American Indian clothing, and wears an original hand-made headdress that reaches clear to the ground.
Moore said she has always loved horses.
“When I got my first job at 18, the first thing I bought was a car and the next thing I got was a horse,” she said. “I grew up in Palm River, when it was very rural, and a neighbor had horses so I was always around them when I was a child,” she said.
“When I met my husband, I got him a horse too and we ride together.”
The two are Florida natives, and often use their horses for the enjoyment of groups as they did in Sun City Center Aug. 14.