Research shows that working with horses can be quite therapeutic. With all the craziness happening in the world today, we could all use a little horsing around! Luckily, FCS Equestrian Center is only about a 1/2 hour from downtown Savannah and offers events and lessons for kids and adults.
Owner Justyne Albright sat on her first horse when she was three years old and was instantly in love. Her parents saw her passion and quickly signed her up for official riding lessons at five and bought her a horse when she was six. Fast forward to today, Justyne and her husband David started FCS Equestrian Center, named after the very horse she got when she was six, Fields Creek Sparkle. While Sparkle passed in 2013, her spirit lives on through 3 generations still living at the center. FCS currently has 14 horses, half of them are used for lessons and event, while the others are just retired and living their best retirement life. Justyne says, “all our horses have their own unique personalities.” At the center, a mother & daughter “talk” to each other, watch one-another sleep, and when they play, mama is always keeping the daughter in line, just like people.
Justyne did not grow up with horses nearby and had to board her horse. This allowed her to see both sides of boarding and create a happy boarding environment for the horses and owners. She says, “I try my best to make sure this is a happy, safe, relaxed and fun atmosphere for both horse and rider. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It’s important to understand both when taking care of the horses. The happier they are the happier their riders are.”
Horseback riding gives the rider time to reflect and think. Because horses use body language to communicate, it gives people a completely different type of self-awareness that can be translated to many aspects of life. According to Justyne, the horses react to how the rider is feeling. “If you’re stressed, you will feel the horse’s response to that and the same if you’re happy. That in itself is therapeutic because it keeps in you in check with your own emotions.” And it’s not just mental health that benefits the rider, riding is a very different sport than most. “You may be working on your balance, connection, posture, whatever it may be and then they throw you a curve ball. They may spook, jump to the side, trip and so on which changes everything you were just focused on. It is an entirely different level of strength: at the same time you need to be both physically strong and mentally strong.”
With homeschooling becoming a necessary part of many families lives right now, riding is a great way to get out energy and replace sports that aren’t taking place. Justyne says, “we have many homeschoolers here, even before Covid. I recommend horseback riding lessons for homeschoolers, its a great way to be physically active while social distancing. I also highly recommend the after school program. Kids in the program will learn how to care for an assigned horse, they will participate in team building and if they need homework help- we will have a licensed teacher here to assist them.”
You can visit FCS by scheduling a tour of the facility, joining a lesson program or joining the after school program. They have lessons available for ages 5+. Adults can also ride at the facility in both small group and private lessons. There are many kid and adult programs. The programs include, saddle fitting events with CWD, Art in the Barn, Whinny and Wine nights and more! FCS is a
facility that wants all ages to enjoy, learn, and come together as a community.
Justyne always keeps a motivational quote she wrote in school close to her heart, “Somewhere between the rider you’ve become, the hours of practice you’ve put in, and the instructors that have pushed you; is the little girl who fell in love with the sport and never looked back.”
You can find FCS on Facebook, Instagram and their website. On the website you will find information for your first visit, what to wear, what to bring and how to sign-up.