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Black beauties showcased at local stables

Oak Hill Stables, N10962 840th Avenue, offered Mother's Day carriage rides over the Winter Street bridge. Shown is co-owner Shannon Hansell driving, Pearl. Submitted photo1 / 2
Shy by nature, this pregnant black beauty, Belle, finds comfort in her owner, Shannon Hansell, of Oak Hill Stables.2 / 2

With their long flowing manes and tails and their tall dark physique, Friesian horses cast a striking presence.

With their powerful structure, Friesians make the perfect horse to drive a carriage -- which happens to be one of the many services that Oak Hill Stables, N10962 840th Avenue, offers.

Co-owner Shannon Hansell says that the carriage rides, which were offered at West Wind Supper Club and Junior's Bar and Grill on Mother's Day, are great for weddings and corporate and community events.

Hansell said she loves doing things within the neighborhood (River Falls) and hopes to do more carriage rides at upcoming community events.

According to Oak Hill Stables' literature, carriage rides can "make your day extra special" and emphasizes making a rider feel like a princess on her wedding day.

The literature indicates that Oak Hill Stables has both light and dark carriages, to match the needs of the event.

Gaining confidence through horses

The 10-acre horse stables, which Hansell co-owns with Rick Waldschmidt, also specializes in a therapeutic riding program -- "With Love, From Horses."

Hansell decided on a therapeutic program after seeing the increase in her 12-year-old's self-assurance after she put him on the back of a horse.

"He had control of a 1,200 pound animal, which added to his confidence," said Hansell, mom to four kids, Grayden, Merric, Addisen and Everett.

After seeing the change in her son, Hansell decided a therapeutic riding program was something she would like to give to kids both with and without special needs.

Hansell also cited work she did in New York that paired emotionally abused children with horses.

She said that the children could talk and bond with the animal without fear of their words being repeated and that added to those children's increase in confidence.

According to Hansell, "Horses relax people and build their confidence."

She said that children with autism, specifically, seem to sense a similar emotion with the horse.

Said Hansell: "The kids know that a horse won't force them to do something...Horses light up their world."

Hansell also said that riding horses can help with movement. She said that horses are the only animal that have the same gait as humans which, according to Hensell, helps get the child's brain waves working together.

Other areas that are seeing improvement, according to Oak Hill Stables literature, include: Communication, social skills and motor skills.

A motorcycle poker run benefiting the "With Love, From Horses" therapeutic riding program will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1.

The ride will start at Logger's Bar and Grill in St. Croix Falls, travel to Pudge's Bar, Hudson; No Name Saloon, Prescott; West Wind Supper Club, River Falls; and end at BarnBoard, Roberts.

There will be a 5 p.m. chili feed, prizes, entertainment and more. Contact Oak Hill Stables at 715-210-9675, for more information or to RSVP.

More to offer

Besides carriage rides and the therapeutic riding program, Oak Hill Stables offers boarding, lessons, camps, trail rides, breeding, horse training and a vacation program -- "on and off site animal care program to fit your needs."

According to the Oak Hill Stables website,, the business has both indoor stall and pasture boarding, which include grain twice daily and hay -- stall board includes daily turnout.

They also offer English, western, and driving lessons for groups, children and adults as well as trail rides and summer camps.

Hansell said that trail rides are held on county land down by the Kinnickinnic River and that some of the trails are wide enough for carriages.

Oak Hill Stables, which started in August 2012, also trains people who are new to horse ownership, so that owner and horse can "grow together."

Hansell, in the horse business for 25 years, also offers Friesian and Friesian crosses for sale, stud and lease.

Hansell, who competes in both dressage and driving, said that Friesian breeding is tightly controlled.

She said that Friesians are judged differently in the show ring than other breeds. While most are judged against each other, Friesians are judged against the standard -- her horses tend to do well in this area.

Once a month Oak Hill Stables hosts a ladies night. Hansell, who also co-owns Platinum Interiors with husband, Mike Hansell, says that the fun event is not only an opportunity to meet other people but also a great chance for women to become more comfortable with horses.

For more information about Oak Hill Stables visit, call 651-210-9675, email, or visit them on Facebook, "Oak Hill Stables."

Jillian Dexheimer

Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.