WAILUA — Malia Diegmann’s passion is horses, said her mother, Julia Diegmann of Kalaheo, at the Healing Horses facility in Wailua.
“We have pet chickens at home, and you know what their names are?” Diegmann said. “Horse!”
Malia, 4, was one of five young horse enthusiasts working with Martha Underwood, the head instructor at Healing Horses, and volunteer Tigerlily Kaynor, 13, during last week’s fall break for public schools.
Working under the mural with the Healing Horses’ theme of “Horses Helping People,” the young hands worked diligently on creating name bracelets for the five horses housed on the Wailua property located on the Kapaa bypass road, while being asked questions by Kaynor as a preface to the afternoon activity.
“I promised their parents they would sleep well,” Underwood said.
“We all rode this morning, took a hike around the pond, and this afternoon, they’ll be running around the arena for the scavenger hunt. There is always something to do with the ground. Whether on the Mainland, or here, there is something about a barn or ranch that everybody is the same. I’ve had parents tell me their children won’t clean their own rooms, but will always make sure to clean the horse stalls.”
A certified horse instructor in New York, Underwood came to Healing Horses two months ago at the recommendation and encouragement of Sandy Webster, a master instructor who visited Healing Horses.
“I want to revitalize this program,” Underwood said. “Already, we’ve started a program for people who want to become instructors. We also need riders. There is no cap on age, and we have enough horses right now that we can use more riders. We have lesson time available.”
Underwood said the curriculum follows the DOE calendar of nine weeks, meeting once a week at the Healing Horses’ stables.
“This is an opportunity for programs,” the head instructor said. “We only recently completed an eight-week program with the Boys & Girls Club where they had students coming here to ride and learn.”
Kaynor said she has always worked with horses.
“I’ve worked with horses my whole life,” the 13-year-old said. “Life would be so bad without horses.”
The public has an opportunity to find out more about Healing Horses and its programs on Oct. 30 during a Halloween spooktacular open house from 1 to 4 p.m.
Healing Horses will also host its annual fundraiser gala on Nov. 14 at the Hukilau Lanai restaurant.