A Passion For Horses

A Lifetime’s Passion

By Nick Lico / Photography by Mike Ferdinande

horses_collageGet to the northern part of our county and it’s easy to picture when the mode of transportation had four legs, rather than four wheels. Perhaps it’s a romantic notion ingrained from old movies and books, but horses are among the most popular pets in the United States and hundreds of Macomb County residents are enjoying one of their own.

“I started riding when I was sixyears old because my older sisters were already riding. My parents bought me my first horse when I was 11 and I shared it with my sisters all the way through high school,” said Elaina Rybak. A proficient rider, the 30-year-old Sterling Heights resident showed at Macomb County’s 4-H organization from the ages of 11 to 19, was on Eisenhower’s equestrian team and has coached Romeo’s junior equestrian team. Her current horse is a 26-year-old Appendix, which is a mix between a thoroughbred and a quarter horse. The two have participated in numerous events throughout the U.S. and locally at Camp Rotary (near Wolcott Mill Metropark) in Armada.

“I’ve had Brave for 18 years,” said Rybak. Brave is retired from competition but still captures her passion for horses. “He’s a registered quarter horse and is housed at Hox Acres, in Washington Township, about 15 minutes from my house. I go there 4-5 times a week,” Rybak added.

As Rybak explained, Hox Acres is one of the numerous boarding and riding stables in the area.

“Macomb County offers lots of options of where to keep a horse. It’s much more difficult to actually find a horse to own,” she said.

If owning a horse appeals to you, consider the advice of Phil Hoxsey, who, along with brother Paul, owns Hox Acres: “Buying a horse is like buying a used car. You are going to ride it a lot, so make sure you’re compatible with the animal. I would suggest leasing one for a while and be sure to take riding lessons.”

Just one of many horse farms in Macomb County, Hox Acres houses around 75 horses and offers riding lessons along with horse boarding. Emily Fuller is one of the trainers offering riding lessons and has seven horses to suit most different levels of riders. She spends her days at Hox and has made her passion her career. “I love teaching people of all ages how to ride. It’s great seeing someone begin to enjoy what I already love,” said Fuller.

Like any ardent pet owner, Rybak feels a special connection with her horse. “The love and the bond that is definitely a passion. It’s not like you decide one day to start riding. It’s a large commitment,” she said. “Once a horse person always a horse person. Horse owners are a tight community. Some of my best friends I’ve met through horses. At Hox Acres, we have riders as young as eight-years old and some who are in their late 60s. It’s a passion of a lifetime,” Rybak concluded.

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