Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Trail Riding in the Mountains

Horseback riding is a wonderful experience, no matter the type of riding. Many folks prefer trail riding, and one of them. When I was younger, I enjoyed more thrilling types of horseback riding, including barrel racing, pole bending, and match races. As I grew older, however, trail riding became my preferred method of riding. I’m not talking about competition trail riding here – I’m talking about a relaxing, leisurely ride on a beautiful trail. From all my trail riding experience, some of the best places for trail rides, or for horseback riding in general, are trails that wind through mountains.
I’ve enjoyed trail riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and each ride was an unforgettable experience. The scenery was truly breathtaking! I’ve seen waterfalls, rushing mountain streams, wildflowers, and all sorts of wildlife. If the trail takes you up to a high vantage point, you’ll get an amazing view of valleys and meadows. Even if you don’t climb much in altitude, you’ll most likely get gorgeous views of rows upon rows of distant hills and peaks.
Is mountain trail riding for you? Yes! There’s such a wide range of mountain riding trails that there’s one for just about every rider. Some trails involve very little climbing, and these are probably best for beginners. Some trails, especially those that require navigating difficult terrain and steep inclines, are probably best for more advanced riders. Intermediate riders might enjoy riding mountain trails that include moderate inclines and fording rivers and streams. There are even trails in which you travel right up the middle of a clear mountain stream!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Riding Lessons in South Carolina

South Carolina is a small state, so you’re never too far away from some great places to take horseback riding lessons. The state also enjoys a warm climate, with mild winters. Practically anything you’re looking for in the way of riding lessons is available, including hunting/jumping, field hunter, eventing, English pleasure, western pleasure, equitation, barrel racing, reining, or dressage. If you want to learn to show at halter, you can learn that, too. Oh, and in some places, you can enjoy a ride on the beach!

The Coastal Area
Andells Bluff Stables, Johns Island, 843-768-0573
Birchwood Farm, Summerville, 843-701-2408
Camelot Farms Equestrian Center, St. Helena Island, 843-383-3938
Double C Ranch, Myrtle Beach, 843-222-6688
Graymour-Bediko Stables, Ladson, 843-810-9141
Heritage Hall Farm, Moncks Corner, 843-810-5333
Huntmaster Farms, Murrells Inlet, 843-650-5585
Jen Tyner, Summerville, 843-323-8563
Lawton Stables, Hilton Head, 843-671-2586
Medicine Wind Farm, Summerville, 843-452-0887
Middleton Stables, Charleston, 843-556-8137
One Tempi Farm, Moncks Corner, 843-569-1070
Rose Dhu Creek Equestrian Center, Bluffton, 843-815-7878
Silver Meadows Stables, Summerville, 843-442-4942
Star Ridge Stables, Hardeeville, 843-784-7845
The Riding Academy, Conway, 843-678-6492
Wampee Stables, North Myrtle Beach, 843-399-1489
Worth A lot Farms, Johns Island, 843-460-0825
Youmans Horse Training and Lessons, Conway, 440-567-8882

Columbia and Central South Carolina
AMC Performance Horses, Aiken, 803-443-8787
Ash Stables, Aiken, 603-608-7844
Bear Creek Stables, Ridgeway, 803-553-0727
Blue Palmetto Stables, Newberry, 803-924-8691
Cameo Farms, Lexington, 803-513-4245
Carolina Ridge Equestrian Center, Gilbert, 803-767-3191
Creekside Farm, Columbia, 803-422-5969
Cross Creek Rodeo Company, Trenton, 803-275-3151
Country Springs Equestrian Center, Pelion, 803-466-7134
Greystone Farms Aiken, 803-522-3648
High Noon Ranch, Aiken, 803-507-5404
Hunt-Ho Farm, North Augusta, 803-819-4240
Jasmine Farm, Lexington, 803-215-1201
Lucky B’s Farm, Saluda, 864-344-6757
Montmorenci Mini Milers, Aiken, 803-646-9993
Palmetto Stables, North Augusta, 803-279-0467
Pinewood Riding Center, Orangeburg, 803-536-6796
Restoration Ranch, Ridgeway, 803-600-4143
Shantara Farm, Donalds, 864-379-2291
Twin Pond Farm, Blythewood, 803-429-1923
Vuelo de Fantasia Paso Finos, Newberry, 803-271-4844
Walton Stables, Aiken, 630-301-2783
Whitehaven Plantation, Bishopville, 803-428-5656
Wild Whispers, Newberry, 803-271-1603
Windy Wood Farms, Lexington, 803-603-6738

Northwest Foothills and Mountains
Bramblewood Stables, Greenville, 864-313-8121
Brookbend Farm, Clemson, 864-650-8305
CBR Horses, Six Mile, 864-868-2131
Cedar Ridge Ranch, Honea Path, 864-380-7756
Clear View Farm, Landrum, 864-895-7845
Crawford Quarter Horses and Appaloosas, Honea Path, 863-318-0706
Dutch Royal Horses, Greenville, 864-906-7576
Eden Farms, Marietta, 864-898-0043
Kings Grove Stables, Central, 864-868-2980
Linda McDaniel, Anderson, 864-457-6216
Riverbend Equestrian Park, Greenville, 864-246-6466
Rolling Acres Farm, Piedmont, 864-414-8529
Shiloh Quarter Horses, Marietta, 864-836-8178
Table rock Resort and Equestrian Center, Pickens, 864-878-2896
The Heritage, Pendleton, 864-933-0046
TW Quarter Circle Ranch Ministries, Greenville, 864-430-9526
Twin Tree Farm, Pendleton, 864-617-0918

Northeast and North Central Region
Braeside Farm, Rock Hill, 803-517-6891
Clear View Farm, Landrum, 864-895-7845
Conrad’s Equine Services, Rock Hill, 803-417-4169
Cynthia Hernholm Training Stables, Gaffney, 302-365-1089
Free Spirit Farm, Gaffney, 704-477-9484
Harmony Training, Spartanburg, 864-592-0010
Hi C Farms, Clover, 803-230-3648
Hidden Hilltop Farm, York, 803-493-6710
Indigo Road Farm, Greer, 864-906-1412
Mitten Tree Knoll Horse Center, York, 803-684-2961
Rainbow Acres, York, 803-684-2722
Springlake Farm, York, 803-371-6479
Tally Ho Equestrian Center, Timmonsville, 843-383-0593

Old Horses and Young Kids

See the above photo? The smaller kid upfront is my granddaughter. She was four years old when the picture was taken, and she could ride that old Arabian mare all by herself, even at such a young age. In most cases, older horses are great choices for young children who are just learning horseback riding. Horses with some age on them have been around the block a few times, so to speak, so they’ve experienced all sorts of things.

Some inexperienced horse people buy young animals for their kids, thinking it would be neat for the two to grow up together. This is almost always a bad idea. Notice I said “almost.” I’ll have to admit, the most “bombproof” horse I ever owned was only two years old when I got her, and she was unflappable from day one. I believe she was a pretty rare exception, however. Most young horses are still feeling their oats, and many are easily spooked. In most cases, a green equine will try you more than an older, settled horse will.

If you’re looking for a horse for riding lessons, one to teach your child and instill confidence, consider purchasing an older mount. This is usually a good option for all parties involved. An older horse will cost you less money, in most cases, and it will probably be a patient teacher for your child. It’s good for the horse, too, because carrying a small rider will be easier for it, physically, and it might just save the animal from the kill market.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Best Age to Begin Riding Lessons

If your son or daughter loves horseback riding and is begging to learn to ride a horse, you might be considering some riding lessons. Before you make arrangements for the riding lessons, however, you might be wondering if your child is old enough to take full advantage of the horseback riding lessons. What’s the best age to begin riding lessons?

Like most activities, much depends on the individual child. Children develop at different rates, so some kids are more physically, emotionally, and mentally advanced than other kids of the same age. I began riding as soon as I could sit up by myself well. Of course, at that time, I was being led around. One day my older brother, who was leading my mount, decided that I’d like to trot. As we trotted around a corner, I fell off onto a gravel road and split my head. I got ten stitches, and my mom was sure that would do me with horses, but it had no effect. I wanted to ride again the next day!

I began doing some riding on my own when I was three years old, and so did my granddaughters. Your child might be ready at that age, too, and there are several riding academies and stables that take kids as young as three. Of course, at such an early age, the child will be learning very basic riding. It’s still a good idea to start kids young with riding, however. Just make sure you choose a riding lessons instructor who’s good with kids as well as knowledgeable about horses and riding.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Riding Lessons in Florida

Florida is a great place to ride and take riding lessons. At some stables, you can learn to swim with your horse, and some places provide riding on the beach. No matter which discipline holds your interest, you can find an experienced riding instructor to teach you. You’ll find private and group lessons for beginners, as well as lessons for intermediate and experienced riders who want to learn more about a certain discipline, showing their horses, or honing their riding skills.

Jacksonville and Northeast Florida
Dawson, Yulee, 904-583-1321
Double A Ranch, Callahan, 904-879-7058
Euphoria Stables, Starke, 904-364-8526
Fancy Horse Ranch, St. Augustine, 904-819-9419
In Stride West, St. Augustine, 904-509-5196
J and S Performance Horses, Jacksonville, 904-673-0765
Kelly Seahorse Ranch, Amelia Island, 904-491-5166
Lonesome Palm Stable, Hilliard, 904-251-4292
Matanzas Farm, Jacksonville, 904-704-2376
M R Stables, Hilliard, 904-845-1335
Osborne Quarter Horses, Fernandina, 904-753-1155
Pam Wiselogel Natural Horsemanship, Jacksonville, 904-662-6659
S. Liesette Jurgens, Jacksonville, 904-994-8768
Smoak Meadow Farm, Green Cove Springs, 904-553-5177
Southern Star Ranch, Palatka, 904-386-0878
Towne Hall Farm, Amelia Island, 904-859-9748
Trumpeteer Dressage, Jacksonville, 904-994-8768
Walker Quarter Horse Farm, Jacksonville, 904-591-0735
World Golf Equestrian Center, St. Augustine, 904-826-5941
Worthington Performance Horses, Jacksonville, 904-304-5080

Tampa Area
A.M.G. Stables, Odessa, 727-741-0559
Barrington Hill, Dade City, 727-643-6128
Black Dog Farm, Plant City, 813-365-0250
Booramby Run, Dade City, 352-277-2388
Brummett Dressage, Dade City, 813-477-7466
Carriage Gate Morgans, Dade City, 352-523-0448
C and H Stables, Odessa, 813-841-1928
Cypress Bend Farms, Odessa, 813-728-7384
Delibero Show Horses, Lithia, 770-298-7415
Dossey Farm, Plant City, 561-350-8083
Eden Oaks Farm, Lithia, 813-624-6867
Far Reach Farm, Lutz, 813-843-8738
Oak Hill Farm, Plant City, 813-716-5948
Paso Fino Tesoro Ranch, Dade City, 727-422-8808
Phoenix Sport Horses, Lutz, 813-679-4785
Red Fox Stables, Lithia, 813-601-9516
Rocking W Ranch, Odessa, 813-417-8860
Rose Hill Ponies, Odessa, 813-777-0385
Sunrise Horse Farms, Lithia, 352-457-8641
Talisman Farms, Lutz, 813-833-3314
West Coast Morgans, Odessa, 813-920-9870

Tallahassee ,North Central Florida, and the Panhandle
Bar C Ranch, Monticello, 850-570-8746
Before the Dance Farm, Lake City, 386-755-3454
Cheri’s Equines, Pensacola, 850-453-9560
Eleventh Hour Farms, Dunnellon, 813-382-6644
Elm Tree Farm Equestrian Center, 352-372-8868
Equus Unlimited, Panama City, 850-763-9163
Feather Oaks Farm, Tallahassee, 850-528-1267
Fox Haven Farm, Jennings, 386-938-3912
Hala Arabians, Lake City, 386-758-3657
Horse Rides of Pensacola, Pensacola, 850-944-8702
JJM Performance Horses, Jennings, 229-539-0740
K and M Horses, Quincy, 850-545-4870
Kim Rich Quarter Horses, Panama City, 850-866-9742
M and M Training and Sales, Dunnellon, 352-425-9280
Made to Order Equestrian, Tallahassee, 850-528-2404
Meadow Brook Farm, Gainesville, 352-222-9553
Paradise Plantation, Live Oak, 863-673-0596
Pensacola Riding Center, Cantonment, 850-587-4193
Quality Acres, Anthony, 352-369-6225
Sauer Stables, Anthony, 352-207-7475
Scattered Acres Equestrian, Dunnellon, 352-489-6371
Seaside Stables, Santa Rosa Beach, 850-622-2202
Shelby Farms, Gainesville, 352-378-7462
West End Equestrian Center, Newberry, 352-472-9977

Orlando Area, Ocala Area, and Central Florida
Bar 4J Bar Ranch, Arcadia, 863-491-6000
Blue Moon Equestrian, Ocala, 352-804-4612
Bonnie Ezzell, Orlando, 407-538-1942
Broadmoor Equestrian, Ocala, 352-622-9063
Brookefeild House, Ocala,352- 425-5665
Criadero El Ocaso Farm, Ocala, 352-895-3096
Downs Farm, Ocala, 352-572-0751
E.L. Flying Horse, Umatilla, 407-489-5092
Equifix Farm, Ocala, 352-484-7657
Field of Dreams Warmbloods, Lake Wales, 863-438-0617
Fox view Farm, Ocala, 352-629-6040
Gallopin’ Groves Stables, Bartow, 863-514-5654
Gatewood Arabians, Ocala, 352-804-9245
Hidden Lark Farm, Ocala, 352-854-5151
Hunters Edge Equestrian Center, Ocala, 352-502-9627
McCall’s Quarter Horses, Chiefland, 352-219-6206
Ocala sport Horse, Ocala, 352-598-0770
Pink Horse Performance, Orlando, 407-467-3950
Pleasure Oaks Riding Stables, Groveland, 407-383-1365
Sandy Island Farm, Ocala, 646-761-6541
Shadow Creek Stables, Sorrento, 407-466-5614
Sweetwater Horse Farm, St. Cloud, 407-891-9211
The Art of Riding, Ocala, 352-625-2478
The Nursery Farm, Ocala, 352-361-6744
University Equestrian Center, Orlando, 407-273-0822
Woods Dressage, Ocala, 352-368-5814
Yellow Rose Eventing, Ocala, 269-806-5974

Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Southeast Florida
Arborwood Stables, Wellington, 954-275-8805
Boca riding Club, Delray Beach, 561-644-1867
Claire and Bears Saddlebreds, Delray Beach, 239-494-8956
Comanche Stallions, Davie, 954-617-5094
Criadero El Escondite, Miami, 305-766-9556
Danielle’s Barn, Davie, 954-290-5206
Delray Equestrian Center, Delray Beach, 561-346-8960
Equines and Equestrians, Delray Beach, 954-650-4324
Everglades Dressage, Wellington, 561-784-4075
Gold Stirrup Riding Academy, Miami, 305-926-1321
Hacienda Majorde, Miami, 305-790-3669
High Spirit Farm, Palm City, 772-485-5835
KK Ranch, Palm City, 772-260-2646
Klass Act Acres, Palm City, 772-485-1334
Lancaster Farm, Wellington, 561-502-0166
Larkin International, Wellington, 561-795-5708
Lord Dressage, West Palm Beach, 561-252-9316
Martin Downs Equestrian Center, Palm City, 772-220-8337
Palm Beach Riding Academy, Wellington, 561-371-9598
Pony Express Adventures II, West Palm Beach, 561-753-7228
Show Class Stables, Ft. Lauderdale, 954-958-0864
The British Barn, Ft. Lauderdale, 786-271-0868
Twin Horse Farm, Davie, 954-693-4346
Updike Horse Training, Palm City, 772-940-1714
Wall Street Farm, Wellington, 561-628-0973

Sarasota, Ft. Myers, and Southwest Florida
Cavalcade Stable, Ft. Myers, 236-810-9251
Cavallino Farms, Naples, 239-877-2795
Centerline Farm, Bradenton, 941-962-5911
Clermark Equestrian, Bradenton, 941-322-9196
Chaslin Farms, Bradenton, 941-713-1980
Cowboy Up Ranch, Ft. Myers, 239-543-3798
Foxfire Equestrian Centre, Sarasota, 941-812-6398
Kathryn Anderson, Bradenton, 941-526-9889
Laurel Valley Ranch, Sarasota, 941-915-9609
Maladandy Ranch, Ft. Myers, 239-693-2696
Meadowind Oaks, Sarasota, 941-924-7146
Piccolo Farm, Naples, 352-317-8050
Riding with Style, Myakka City, 941-322-2175
Rosaire’s Riding Academy and Pony Rides, Sarasota, 941-371-0190
Stables of Rohan, Ft. Myers, 239-671-3511

The Magic of Girls and Horses

I know there are a lot of male horse lovers, but there’s just something special about the bond between a girl and a horse. Of course, this isn’t some great epiphany. Psychologists have been studying and trying to explain this phenomenon for years. Supposedly, almost all girls go through a stage when they adore horses and horseback riding. According to the experts, this usually happens around the age of twelve and has something to do with the horse being the symbol for male strength and virility.

I don’t know about all the psychological mumbo-jumbo, but there’s probably some truth to it. I, however, fell in love with horses long before the age of twelve. I’m not sure exactly when it began, but it seems almost as if I were born with this special affinity for horses. After a couple of years of begging and pleading, my brother and I got a horse when I was six years old, but since he was much older than I, he got to ride a lot more than I did. Two years later, I got a Welsh pony all my own – the best Christmas I’ve ever had.

If your daughter is horse crazy but doesn’t own a horse or pony, at least let her take some riding lessons. A few riding lessons might be all she needs to get over her equine love affair. She might find that the idea of riding a horse and the actuality of riding a horse are two very different things. On the other hand, the riding lessons could have the complete opposite effect. She might fall even more in love with horses. But that’s not a bad thing!

The Cost of Riding Lessons

Want to learn horseback riding? You might be wondering how much you should expect to pay for riding lessons. Actually, fees for riding lessons are all over the board. There are a number of variables that figure into the prices. One is the area in which you live. Like most other things, the equine industry is subject to supply and demand. In other words, if a lot of people in your area are wanting to take riding lessons, but there are only a few riding instructors to go around, the riding lessons are probably going to be expensive. Riding lessons are usually more expensive in big cities than in smaller towns and rural areas, too.

Another aspect is the overhead. Stables with big fancy barns are going to have to charge more for lessons. Also, the success and training an instructor has had will affect the price he or she charges for instructions. You’re going to pay a lot more to be taught by a world champion than you would by Farmer Jones down the road.

Another thing to consider is what type of riding lessons you’ll be getting. Basic beginning lessons might be much cheaper than intense training for a specific discipline like dressage, jumping, polo playing, or barrel racing. One more thing to think about is private lessons versus group lessons, with group lessons being the cheaper of the two.

So how much should you expect to pay? I’ve seen group riding lessons from a reputable instructor for as little as $25 per hour, but you might have to pay more, depending on the variables already mentioned. Just remember – sometimes you get what you pay for with riding lessons.