What if I'm not sure if I want to sign up for lessons?
There is no pressure. You are encouraged to arrange a time to come visit the farm and meet the horses. There are no contracts. You pay as you go, so there is nothing lost if you decide after a few lessons that this activity is not for you.
What will I do in the lessons?
Lessons will include learning how to catch and put the halter on the horse, correctly lead, attach the horse in the cross-ties, brush her, and pick out her feet. You will learn not only how to do these things, but why they are important. You will learn how to "tack up" the horse (put on the saddle and bridle) and mount up (get on the horse). Of course there is the riding portion. The art of riding is a long process that you will have fun doing while you learn. After the riding part, you will dismount, un-tack, and cool out the horse. Again, you will learn how to do these things safely and correctly, and also the reasons why we do them.
At first, you will be doing a lot of observing and listening, but as more lessons go by you will be able to do more things on your own, such as catching and grooming the horse. The first few lessons will be on a lunge line - a long line attached to the horse which I will control with the horse going in a large circle around me. This allows the student to be able to focus on balance and getting used to the movement of the horse without worrying about steering right away.
What else can I expect with riding lessons?
* You may get dirty. Brushing horses and walking through dirt (and sometimes mud) is a norm, and horses love to rub their faces and itch on you! You will most likely not be as clean going home as you were when you arrived. That's part of the fun! It's advised not to wear any clothing that you don't mind getting a little dirt on.
* You may be sore. Horseback riding is an athletic, physically demanding sport. You will be using muscles that you may not know you had! Especially as we get a bit older, and are not quite as flexible as we once were, muscles can be a little achy after a good lesson. There are stretching exercises to do at home that will help. A nice hot bath doesn't hurt either!
* You may be overwhelmed. Just like learning anything new, there is a lot of information to take in at once. You will not be expected to remember everything right away. It's always OK to ask questions. It's OK to ask the same question that you did last week! You will not be required to do/know a certain task in a certain time frame; each student learns and progresses at their own pace.
* You will have fun! Being around horses has been shown to be addicting! There is some unexplainable bond between horses and humans that develops and threads it's way into the soul. Learning their quirks, mannerisms, and body language is both entertaining and rewarding on many levels that nothing else can be compared to.
* Caution! There are some side effects from riding that you must know about. Among other things, you may experience: huge amounts of happiness, a passion in your heart and soul, self-esteem, many feelings of accomplishment, new friendships, poise, balance, flexibility, focus, patience, perseverance, and confidence.
What should I wear?
Safety is first - all students must wear a ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet when on a horse. There are many companies that make many styles of helmets. It is good idea to try on a few and see which is most comfortable for you. Long pants such as riding pants or jeans are a must to protect your legs. Many people like to wear chaps. Appropriate shoes such as paddock boots or even hiking boots with a small heel are fine.
Who will be teaching me/my child?
My name is Brandi and I will be the sole instructor. You will not show up to encounter another person that will teach your lesson. I will know each students strengths, weakness, progress, etc and will not substitute a "stranger" (to you) that you/your child does not have a trusting relationship with. If I am sick or on vacation, I will let you know with as much time as possible, and we will re-schedule the lesson.
What qualifications do you have to teach and supervise my child?
I started riding just before my 10th birthday and was immediately addicted. I rode and competed through high school while working in a day care center and babysitting. I went on to college to earn a 4 year Equine Management degree at Teikyo Post University and competed on the school's Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. I endured a tough week-long process to obtain my Riding Instructor Certification and taught 6 to 8 lessons daily at SJ Ranch for 2 years; leading trail rides with up to 6 children was another part of my job. After college, I exercised fox-hunting horses and taught kindergarten for a few years at KinderCare Learning Center; I also taught a Hooked On Phonics program.
Currently, I own and manage Dreamcatcher Farm, and love teaching others the great sport of riding and the rewarding bond that develops between a horse and it's rider.
I want to learn about horses and riding, but I'm scared.
This is normal if you are not familiar with these large creatures. If you are not ready to hop right on, we can arrange "ground lessons" first to help you get comfortable and familiar with the animals and how to safely act around them. There is a lot to learn without the riding aspect: grooming, tack, anatomy, hoof care, breeds, feed, general health and care, body language, etc. Don't let your fear discourage you from such a wonderful experience. Once you get used to the horses, you will quickly find your fear melting away!
"If God created anything more beautiful than the horse,
he kept it for himself"
~ Author unknown