Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 9, 2002
Billie Allor's dream becomes a reality with Living Legends Stables
By Julie Yurek
"It's the reality of a lifelong dream," said Winsted resident Billie Allor.
Allor is talking about her business, Living Legends Stables, where she gives riding lessons, and trains and boards horses.
Allor bought the farm on Cable Avenue last October, she said. She only had two weeks to get settled in and make some changes and repairs to the barn and stable before she had to leave for a competition.
The stable name has a unique meaning. The horses are named after famous people in history, so the horses are "living legends," she said.
Allor breeds and raises Morgan horses, although there are other breeds boarded there, she said.
Morgan horses were used by the United States Cavalry, Allor said. "The government kept the breed alive. They are easy to get along with, easy keepers, healthy, and people friendly, everything the Cavalry needed in a horse."
Prior to moving to Winsted, Allor leased space for seven years in Shakopee for her stable. Before she began her stable on a full-time basis, she did it part-time while she worked full-time as a juvenile probation officer for seven years.
Allor was joined recently by her 21-year-old daughter, Crystal, who was working for two years at Dixie Stampede, a dinner show owned by Dolly Parton in Branson, Mo., before coming home in November, Allor said.
Crystal works part-time at the stable and is taking business classes at Ridgewater College, Allor said.
"It's been great to have her back home," she said.
Safety, responsibility, and affordability are a few of the many aspects in Allor's program at Living Legends.
One of Allor's requirements at her stable is if a horse is boarded there, the owner must be in lessons or the horse must be in training, she said.
Expectations are addressed up front, she said.
"I want owners to gain education about caring for their animal," Allor said.
If a horse leaves, she wants the owner to know how to take care of it properly, to know the signs of sickness, to know about vaccinations, ferrying, etc., she said.
In relation to vaccinations, West Nile is on every horse owner's mind. Horses at Living Legends were vaccinated in March, before the mosquito season started.
"My vet is very proactive," Allor said. "We've done everything we can to prevent the disease here."
And as a way to lower rates, she asks that owners share in the barn chores when they come out to ride or for a lesson.
"It's really a horse community," she said.
Twenty or so families are involved with Living Legends, which means Allor has about 40 to 50 students.
As for lessons, the stable offers three types of riding - western, hunt seat, and saddle seat. Hunt and saddle are types of English style of riding, Allor said.
Children must be at least eight years old to begin lessons. Helmets are a must, and any child under the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult.
"I encourage kids to try all three types. For safety reasons, I begin them on western. With western, there is a horn for the student to hold onto and the horse's gait is slower.
"Once they are comfortable with that, I try hunt, and then saddle, where the horse's gait is much quicker," she said. "Once they have tried all three, they can choose to specialize in one if they want."
Allor's riding lessons begin one-on-one, but after about four to six lessons, the student begins riding in a group with about four to eight other riders of varying levels of experience.
"Beginners seem to learn and progress faster when they're with the intermediate and advanced riders," she said.
As part of lessons, Allor has students do pattern work and obstacle courses. She uses her college education in corrections to intermingle the three different ways of learning in children: visual, audio, and hands-on.
During the summer Allor also has what she calls a summer camp for her students. Children ages 12 and up who are taking lessons sign up in April for the weeks they would like to stay at Living Legends.
Allor wants students to be at least 12 years old, because there is some lifting involved with chores, she said.
Most sign up for one week per month, Allor said. The most students she will allow at one time is four. They usually arrive Monday night and leave Friday afternoon.
The students are responsible for cleaning stalls, grooming, feeding, and they get a chance to help train the young horses which are the three-year-olds who are just beginning to work under a saddle, Allor said.
Allor's house has five bedrooms and three family rooms to accommodate the students. She is very strict on a drug-free environment. "If they get caught drinking, smoking, or doing any other drug at my facility, they leave the program," she said.
The time students spend at Living Legends during the summer is meant to foster friendships and teamwork among the students, Allor said. "A lot of these kids compete against one another in competitions, so it's a chance for them to get to know each other outside of that."
Allor provides three meals a day for students. Besides feeding, cleaning, and working with the horses, students, Crystal, and Allor sometimes go on trail rides in the afternoon, or Allor will set up games to play on horseback.
"It helps the kids with their riding and they don't even know it," she said with a smile. "They aren't concentrating on their riding, they're just having a good time."
The evenings are open, so students can watch movies or play boardgames. Allor is a movie buff, so she has many DVDs on hand, she said. Thursday night is always bonfire night, Allor added.
At Christmas time, Allor and families decorated the horses and went around the area singing Christmas carols. The stable was also represented in the Winsted Summer Festival parade a month ago.
Allor currently has 35 horses boarded at her stable, which is about the maximum, she said. If she takes on more than that, she feels quality is sacrificed.
Allor's experience with horses began when she was nine years old, when a western stable moved nearby. From the age of nine to 11, she worked at the stable for her riding lessons.
When she was 16, an instructor encouraged and enabled Allor to enter her first competition, she said.
Though she does not have any formal horse training, she uses her 25 years of life experiences with horses, and her work at various stables, at Living Legends.
For information about lessons, Allor's number at her stable is (320) 485-5292.
Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie