I know that I didn’t get to all the Stables around the Metro. I didn’t make it to the West Metro because I couldn’t get in touch with any of the stables. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but we just couldn’t connect. Also, I didn’t hear back from the stables in Stillwater. I made an attempt to check out Seventh Farm in Hudson, but there, too, no one was around when I stopped by at our appointed time.
While it may sound like I am making excuses, I am simply trying to explain the lack of a complete picture of the stables around the area. There are so many stables to choose from that if one doesn’t seem a good fit, in all likelihood, there is another to try. You need to be comfortable with the facility and the horses. You need to feel known and cared for. You need to be given the tools to be successful.
Of the ones I visited, there are pros and cons to each. The number one priority for every single stable was Safety. Wearing helmets is required for all students no matter where you choose to learn. But let me give you a quick overview of each stable and my gut reaction.
Windy Ridge Ranch–Mark Ward was a powerhouse. Being that this was my first step into the horsemanship journey, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I was impressed by Mark’s hands-on approach and the different ways to be active in the equestrian world. A unique feature was that during group lessons, the rider could ride bareback, in a western saddle, or in a huntseat saddle (English). It didn’t really matter as long as the rider was comfortable.
Woodloch Stables: This was definitely the biggest operation that I visited. Over a hundred horses were either boarded, shown, or used for lessons. They teach all styles of Western and English riding including western pleasure, dressage, huntseat, jumping, eventing, games and trail riding. Their facilities are huge and they host large events very often. They also offer lessons to the littlest ones in the family from ages 3-6. Woodloch is very proud of their pony program as they should be!
Shadow Creek Stables: Definitely the most picturesque of all the stables that I visited. The Warmbloods and Quarterhorses and Thoroughbreds who live at Shadow Creek know they are safe, respected, and well cared for. The horses are definitely the focus at Shadow Creek and everyone is a part of the family at Shadow Creek.
Hardwood Creek Farm: After visiting, I went home and told my husband that I think I found the place for our daughter to take lessons. First of all, I was in love with their horses. Second, I felt so at home with Colleen Wick. Third, I felt it was a great fit for our family. This is exactly what I want to happen for you. I want to offer many different options to try. And when you find your fit, you will know.
Bunker Park Stable: If you want to ride a horse and are over the age of 8, Bunker Park Stable is the place to go. While they have a lesson program, this is the place to go in the Twin Cities for a trail ride. Reserve a time for a ride through the park or for a pony-led ride for you little one. Enjoy a unique party experience or educate yourselves about the pioneers. Bunker Park Stable has a lot to offer you and your family.
Davenport Stables: I would love to send you to Cheryl at Davenport Stables. She understands the preciousness of your child. She has this strong and gentle nature about her. She loves her students and she loves her horses. The focus at Davenport Stables is lessons and boarding. This stable is not going to take you to major horse shows or events. You will learn to read a horse and to partner with a horse. I am positive that Cheryl can work with everyone.
Bob Jensen Stables: Saddlebred stables are proud of their horses. As they should be. They are magnificient creatures. Bob Jensen Stables is no different. They have over 20 lesson horses to use and a very high level of professionalism. And they are very active in the horse show world. Their horses will seriously weasel their way into your hearts, and you will gladly let them.
Golden Ridge Stables: This was another stable that I felt right at home hanging out. Ann is so friendly and welcoming, and her instructors are personable and awesome. The stalls are full of Arabians, their students are eager to learn, and the horses participate in all the fun activities at the stables including movies, halloween dress-up, and the open house.
Horsemanship is an amazing life skill. You are giving you and your child something bigger than both of you to experience, teaching your child responsibility and awareness and even compassion, and enjoying nature (in one way or another). Lessons may seem a little pricey, but in reality, its very comparable to other sports and lessons.
You won’t regret giving your child an opportunity to learn horsemanship. Now, it’s just about finding the right fit!