We offer both dressage and jumping lessons, and many of our more advanced students do both. Dressage training principles serve as the foundation for all lessons, as they create not only athletic horses, but also skilled riders with a good seat and soft hands. Once students have the basics of dressage they may move on to jumping. All lessons are tailored to the student’s individual needs, ability, and goals and are based on horse training techniques that allow free flow of communication between horse and rider. The rider learns to ask the horse for a movement, not make the horse do something. This creates a positive atmosphere in which the horse and rider work as a team. All of our lessons are $50/hour and focus on becoming a well-rounded horse-person that is safe and knowledgeable.
All students learn to groom, saddle, and bridle their horses; we think it is very important that the student not think of the horse as a ‘vehicle’. The responsibilities of grooming and tacking up keeps the horse comfortable and healthy. Our main goal is to create riders that are thinking, considerate leaders for their horses and to help our students achieve their own goals.
We have a range of school tack that students may use, or they may use their own tack (so long as it is safe and fits their horse correctly). There are school helmets available for students to use who do not own their own helmet; we do require that all students wear a helmet during every riding lesson. We also request that students wear boots or closed-toed shoes with at least 1/4″ heel and comfortable clothes that they can easily move in during their lessons. The safety of horse and rider is always our primary concern.
Most of our lessons are private, although we occasionally do small-group lessons (usually no more than two or three students per group lesson). By having private or small-group lessons, the student receives much more individual attention and is able to progress more safely and quickly. Smaller lesson sizes also keep the horses happier, because their student-riders are educated about how to consider their horse’s needs and the student and horse develop a better relationship. Advanced students sometimes have larger group (3-4 students) lessons so that they may observe their peers in action and discuss training ideas and techniques.
Lessons are generally one hour long, which includes approximately 30 minutes for grooming and tacking up, followed by 30 minutes of riding. Once you can tack up, steer and control your horse, you can advance to dressage or jumping lessons. These advanced lessons do NOT including tacking up time and you will be expected to come early to groom and tack up your horse.
We strongly recommend that all of our students read Sally Swift’s Centered Riding, as this text provides all lot of the principles that will be used in lessons. There are usually used copies of Swift’s book available in the office. As riders progress, we have additional texts that illustrate the new concepts that lessons will address. If you would like further reading material, we have a number of other suggestions as well–just ask!
The safety of our students is our primary concern and because we have a covered arena, we are generally able to hold lessons, rain or shine. However, if there is lightning, high winds, or extremely heavy rain that could cause flooding, or the weather otherwise makes it unsafe to ride, lessons will continue for the day as “unmounted” lessons in which the students will learn about any of a wide range of topics that are appropriate for the students’ age and skill level. These topics might include saddle and bridle fitting and care, horse health and anatomy, horse care and maintenance, exercise and training theory, or other equestrian topic of interest to the student. Unmounted lessons are a fun and informative supplement to regular riding lessons and are our way of making the best of bad weather. We want our students to have a well-rounded equestrian education and bad weather gives us an opportunity to teach our students about equine subjects that might not be covered during traditional riding lessons.