Horsing around

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Veronica Stamps
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
You don't have to wear a cowboy hat and have a saddle to own a horse, but you do need land for it to live on and Holloman has just the place for military members to keep these four-legged friends close to home.

Holloman's Outdoor Recreation Center puts up horses on base at the Flying "H" Equestrian facility, where there is room for more than 40 horses to enjoy the open land within a gated community.

The horse stables give men and women in uniform, military dependents, Department of Defense employees and retirees the opportunity to house their horses on base with 24 hour access, along with support from fellow Team Holloman horse owners.

"[The Flying "H" Equestrian facility has] cross country jumps and a nice arena. Here everybody knows what to look for and they know how to take care of a horse," said Staff Sgt. Stacey Chastain, 49th Material Maintenance Support Squadron, whose six year old draft horse, Klein, resides at the stables. "Usually in barns there are so many conflicting opinions on how you should train or take care of your horse but everyone here gets along."

The stable currently houses 12 horses of different breeds, ranging from two to 32 years of age. The stable is located on the North side of Holloman offering jumping arenas, training round pens and quarantine stalls.

Every stable has unique qualities but the close-knit community on base offers owners the chance to know their horse's neighbors, and for some, that can be advantageous. For example, deployments can make owning a horse tough, but these horse owners know when they leave, their horse will be in good hands.

"It's a good bunch of people here. It's really the first barn I've ever really been at that is truly full of really good horse people who care about their horses and it's not just about riding," says Chanel Jernigan, wife of Master Sgt. Stacy Jernigan, 31st Maintenance Squadron. "They're a huge responsibility and it's nice to see that people here take that responsibility seriously."

In addition to caring for their own horses, a couple of stable regulars said they consider themselves to be the "aunts" at the stable because they are currently horse sitting for a military member who is deployed.

There are many reasons why people keep horses around, from the thrill of competing in rodeos to the companionship that comes from owning a horse.

"You get people that will train horses and breed and sell horses, but they don't ever really get into the real love," said Mrs. Jernigan, whose four year old horse, Zuli, resides at the stables here. "When you spend time with your horse you learn their language."

The relationship between Mrs. Jernigan and Zuli stems from spending plenty of time together riding around the base and being outside of the stables. Being patient and committed she said, gives her the opportunity to really get to know her horse.

"They're not spoiled, they're very cherished because they're calm and relaxed and they know we've got their back," said another horse owner, Jill Zilinsky, wife of Maj. Anthony Zilinsky, 4th Space Squadron.

Both Mrs. Jernigan and Zilinsky agree that there is a lot of physical labor that goes into caring for a horse but having the support and knowledge of other people who share a common interest guarantees both they and their horse are in good company.

"It's like a science to own a horse," says Sergeant Chastain.

The stables are available for anyone with base access to use, even if it's just a one weekend visit. The cost of having a stable is $10 a weekend or $40 a month.

For more information on the Flying "H" Equestrian facility, contact the Outdoor Recreation Center at 575-572-5369.