Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love For Horse Leads To Helping Others

This wonderful woman loves horses and now loves helping others through her horses!  This is a very intersesting story and I hope you like it!  ~Declan

Love for horses leads to helping others 

md horse lovers WEST 091912
Olivia Pringle, 16, a Brockport High School student, feeds Princess, a horse owned by Debbie Fogg. Olivia takes every opportunity to be around horses. / MARIE DE JESUS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

As a hall monitor at Brockport High School for the past 17 years, Debbie Fogg has gotten to know a generation of students.

Fogg, 50, makes sure students get to where they’re supposed to be and that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing in school. She frequently lends a helping hand and sympathetic ear — and she has her own way of connecting with students.

“I’m such a jabber-jaw,” Fogg said with a laugh. “All the kids know me … If you were talk to any of the upperclassmen and ask them, ‘What does Mrs. Fogg go on and on about? they’d roll their eyes and say, ''Horses. Horses.''

Fogg has been a horse lover all of her life. She got her first pony when she was 7, when her family lived on a 120-acre farm in Chenango County. She now owns two mares and shares her equestrian enthusiasm with anyone who is interested. Over the years, about 25 students have trekked to Fogg’s barn on Reed Road in Sweden to visit the horses.

She doesn’t call what she does equine therapy. What the animals provide, Fogg said, is an emotional connection for people who sometimes need a boost.

“This generation of kids comes with a lot of baggage,” said Fogg. “When I see kids struggling in school, I introduce them to my horses. They talk with them, brush them, not necessarily ride them, but some of them do. It helps with coping skills.”

Halle Griffin, a 2012 graduate of Brockport High, first met Fogg about five years ago. Griffin said she loved riding horses when she was in elementary school, but stopped when the hobby became too expensive. Fogg invited her over.

“Everyone loves her,” said Griffin, who since has joined the Army and is awaiting basic training. “I went over every Tuesday, from 4 to 9 p.m. I helped her with the chores, cleaned the stalls and fed and watered the horses. I really enjoyed it. And I lost a lot of weight, too, so that was an added benefit.”

Fogg has used her approach with adults as well, usually through a Christian-based stable in Wyoming County. The benefits, she said, are readily apparent but hard to put into words.

“It’s more of an inner thing than a verbal thing,” Fogg said. “You can wrap your arms around them, if you will. Horses are so vulnerable. You would think because they’re so big and strong, that they would be kind of invincible, but they’re not. And they all have personalities.”

As a youngster, Fogg regularly had 12 to 15 horses at her family home, along with chickens, rabbits, dogs and a pet sheep that she would sneak into the house as often as she could.

She moved to the Brockport area in 1980, and she and her husband, Donald, now have just the two horses — Princess, a 7-year-old Grade horse, and Dusty, a 22-year-old Morgan. The Foggs have two sons, Donald, 28, and Devin, 24.

Fogg said she can relate to students who might be going through tough times. As a kid, she said she loved working on the farm but hated school. She notes the irony that she now works in a school.
“I guess it’s my punishment,” she said with a chuckle. She worked part-time in the cafeteria for six years before she became a monitor.

Todd Hagreen, an assistant principal at Brockport, said Fogg’s job can be difficult, but said she has a tremendous relationship with students.

“She’s about as genuine a person as you’ll ever meet,” Hagreen said. “She’ll do anything for kids, and they’ll do anything for her. If we have a kid who’s going through some kind of crisis, she’ll bring up her horses … It’s wild what things like that will do for them.”

Fogg’s affinity for equines comes with a deep respect for animals that she learned early. She never has fallen off a horse, but she once got kicked in the chest as a youth, leaving her with two broken ribs.

“It did teach me something — fear of the back end,” she said. “It was my own fault. I’ve never had a fear of horses … but some horses are just mean, and they’ll kick you.”

Fogg said her horses aren’t that way. A lot of times, she said, ornery horses learn to be better behaved, more loving and respectful. The same, she said, is true of youths.

It’s all about the approach you take with them, Fogg said.
“Kids know that I don’t put up with stuff,” she said. “I try to reason with them. I talk with them. And they know, I’ll try to help you a lot quicker if you’re honest with me.”

Fogg estimated that she has worked with 50 adults through her horse connections over the years. She describes them as people who have “lost their way,” but often gotten back on track after visiting the ranch in Wyoming County.

Nothing is more important than helping someone turn his or her life around, Fogg said.

“With the kids, they realize they’ve got to do something with their lives and stay focused. You never give up on them.”

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