BELLWOOD — Seven-year-old Bella Divis of David City held up handfuls of grass to Oreo, the painted horse she sat atop during a trail ride with her family at the H&H acreage northwest of Bellwood.
“I’m going to give lots of grass to Oreo,” she said.
Her 3-year-old brother Cyrus joined in while their parents and grandparents watched. Cyrus rode with his mom Jacy, who said he's been on a pony at the fair before but this was his first time on a horse.
“Cyrus was beyond excited to ride a big one,” she said.
It was also the first time on a horse for Danny Divis, the kids' father.
“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “They have a really neat place out here.”
That place is property Brenda Hake of Creston and her fiancé Matt Harris purchased a little over a year ago knowing they wanted to offer affordable trail rides and horseback riding lessons.
Jacy’s parents, Sue and Dave Egger, said they’ve been on trail rides while vacationing.
“Now you have it close to home,” Dave said.
When Hake and Harris bought the property they had three horses they could use for rides and two more they were training.
“I had to get the horses to where they’re bomb-proof,” said Hake.
She trained the horses so they don't get spooked, making them safer for beginning riders.
“We’ve had rabbits run out, we’ve had birds fly out, nothing really bothers them,” Hake said.
Hake grew up on a family farm outside Creston and always had an interest in horses, but her parents didn’t like them.
“Dad just said they were hay burners,” she said.
She had a neighbor who let her ride and sees H&H Lessons and Horseback Riding as a way to pass that along to others.
“Now I know the time it takes to saddle and teach a kid to ride,” she said. “I guess it’s my way of giving back to people.”
Hake has 13 horses now. Her lessons and trail rides are $15 per person for each session or ride, which she knows is below the normal asking price around Columbus.
“I wanted to make it affordable for a family to do,” she said.
Hake, who has her private-lesson students assist inexperienced riders during trail rides, has several people who ride regularly.
“It’s very peaceful. It’s very relaxing,” she said. “It’s something different. It’s outdoors. It’s something that some people don’t have the opportunity to do it.
"Once they do it, they love it.”
For some clients, the rides are more than an opportunity to relax.
Hake said some of her regulars have medical conditions such as cerebral palsy and riding a horse can help strengthen their core. Others struggle with depression and anxiety and find the rides help them quiet their minds.
“Just the ride itself in nature, with the trees and all you can hear is birds,” said Hake. “I think it’s the peace and serenity.”
On a recent Saturday, 72 people were part of the trail rides, the highest number for a single day.
And Hake wants to see the business continue to grow.
“We’re going to see where this takes us and hope people give us a try,” she said.
H&H Lessons and Horseback Riding is located at 4181 B Road outside Bellwood and can be contacted at 402-270-6153.