Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 26, 2009

Just horsing around

First Lady visits county for equestrian lessons

BY RYAN PALENCER

BROWNSBURG — Not every customer at Natural Valley Ranch turns heads, but that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday when Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels showed up for equestrian lessons.

Marie Damler and her husband Chuck said Daniels did just fine.

And the lesson gave Daniels an opportunity to learn some new feats.

“I’d only been on a horse once before,” she said. “It was kind of a single file trail. It’s something that I have never mastered. It was fun. I was a little nervous and I am not sure about the trotting. It was fun and something that I would like to try again.”

Daniels teams up with the Ed Wank and Dave O’Brien from the Wank and O’Brien Morning Show on 97.1 Hank FM to travel around the state and perform tasks that she had never done before.

“It’s great fun,” Daniels said. “We decided to collaborate on a segment that we do. We thought it would be fun to have listeners call in and give us ideas of what to do. They called us and it sounded like fun. Hopefully, I will be back to do it just on my own.”

Marie Damler said her helper in the barn made the call to the show and was well received after a couple of attempts.

“Our helper made a phone call when she was listening to the Wank and O’Brien Morning Show,” Marie said. “They are promoting the Governor’s wife going somewhere once a month to try something that she has never tried before.”

Daniels said she was pleased with the opportunity to learn about grooming a horse.

“I actually learned a lot,” she said. “I never thought that I would be grooming a horse or using a pick on a horse’s hoof. That was kind of interesting to learn how to go about it.”

However, she credits her partner for her success — not Gov. Mitch Daniels, but rather Joker, the horse she was paired with.

“Of course, Joker was a very good horse,” Daniels said. “I owe my success to him.”

Marie said the event should allow the ranch to get some publicity.

“I think that it’s exciting for us,” she said. “I think that it will get the word out. Wank and O’Brien are going to post it on their website. It should be a four-minute spot.”

The lesson that Daniels took is also available to the public at the ranch.

“What Sherry did today was take a one-hour lesson,” Marie said. “We offer private lessons. We really started with public trail riding. We are open year-round, which is a big draw. We have about 50 acres of trails and about 72 acres all together.”

For three days a week, the ranch offers customers the chance to lease and ride any of their horses. The ranch has 28 horses of all sizes.

“What’s good for us is we are so close to Indianapolis,” Marie said. “So you don’t have to go to Brown County to get the experience.”

The ranch is just off of County Road 350 North in Brownsburg. For more information about Natural Valley Ranch, visit the website at www.naturalvalleyranch.com.

ryan.palencer@flyergroup.com