Golden Ridge Stables A family-oriented stable full of friendly people and knowledgeable staff, they took time out of their busy schedule to chat with me and give me a tour of their facilities. Seriously, they got a couple of chairs out, and we sat and talked about horses and showing and horses some more.
Those of you who live more in the southerly direction of the metro like in Burnsville or Farmington are not going to want to drive to Hugo or Forest Lake. I understand that. So here is a great stable for you to enjoy. Golden Ridge Stables is a ideal place for you to learn all things horse.
Where is Golden Ridge Stables?
If you follow Highway 77 south through Apple Valley and Lakeville, you are suddenly surrounded by cornfields for miles in every direction. In the middle of the cornfields, you will find Golden Ridge Stables. Golden Ridge Stables is owned by Ann Graney Hoffman and has been for 27 years. Make sure you look for Golden Ridge Stables's sign to direct you to the correct farm since Lakeville is a great location for many horse stables.
Introducing Golden Ridge Stables
Golden Ridge Stables is filled with 34 horses of various breeds. This translates into some very beautiful horses in residence: bays, chestnuts, grays, paints, and others. Their show horses are Arabians or 1/2 Arabians. I learned so much from Ann about the different colors of Arabians and horses in general. Like did you know that the Appaloosa (any color, but usually thought of as gray, with spotted hindquarters) is a Native American horse? And that they are the most genetically complex?
The focus on Golden Ridge Stables is riding lessons. They have approximately 100 per week during the fall session. The majority of their clients are youth, but mixed in with children are a fair number of adult riders. When I was visiting, the lessons I observed were for adults. They even host a Ladies Night on Monday evenings for women of all ages and abilities. (I wonder if they would let a woman who hasn't really been on a horse for 25 years join in the fun.)
With 10-12 lesson horses, they have a variety of horse personalities. From docile horses who make all the decisions for the novice rider to a horse who needs to be compelled to follow directions, riders are challenged as they progress.
For those who are serious about horsemanship, a variety of different showing events are available in which to participate. Whether it's a schooling show, an amateur show, or participating with the youth Arabian Horse team called Region 10 Youth Tournament Team, Golden Ridge supports and encourages you to participate at any level of involvement.
Their indoor arena is very quaint. Centered in one large barn, the arena is surrounded by horse stalls where the horses feel a part of the action, so they are rarely rowdy. Above the arena is the hayloft.
History of Golden Ridge Stables
Ann is not the original founder of Golden Ridge Stables. When she was growing up, she boarded her horse in the stables and grew as a horse woman there. 27 years ago, she purchased the farm from the owner who had become like a second dad to her. Ann still keeps the same values she learned at Golden Ridge as the foundation for the school. Most of the trainers and instructors have been working with her for over a decade. They enjoy their job, they love their job, and they are excellent at their job. It's not really a job as much as they are all family.
Ann's family includes her two children and her husband. They support Ann in the business in some way or other: Her daughter is growing up as horseman, taking lessons and showing horses in the Hunt seat and Saddleseat classes. Her husband is a little more hands off the horses and hands on the mechanics of the stable. Parking cars for their Open House and other events or fixing whatever may be broken. (It's good to have those handy guys around farms).
Golden Ridge Stables Offers
Lessons take up the majority of Golden Ridge's schedule. Giving private lessons means you get one on one attention. Each lesson is approximately an hour. The first 15 minutes are tacking the horse (don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Tacking means grooming and putting on the saddle and bridle). Then, the student rides for 30 minutes. The last 15 minutes are used for walking the horse for cool down, putting the gear away, etc.
Training horses for events and shows is also an important part of Golden Ridge's week. They have four trainers who partner with clients working their horses and finding the perfect match and plan for each team. Arabians usually show in the Hunt Seat Classes and the Western Classes at the different events. The trainers each have their favorite class to participate, but they have been extremely successful l in Hunter Pleasure, Equitation, Showmanship, Sport Horse, Dressage, and Western Pleasure.
Fun is taken very seriously at Golden Ridge Stables. Ann offers 2 weeks of summer camp for those who are interested and various activities throughout the year. For instance, this fall has three things on the schedule purely for fun. Potluck and Movie Night (happened in the beginning of September) where they host a potluck and then play a movie in the barn if bad weather or have a hay wagon drive-in experience. This Sunday, October 6, they are hosting an Open House, and on Halloween, they are throwing their annual Halloween party where they dress up the horses in costumes and have a good old time.
They board a few horses and lease a few horses, but their time is generally busy with lessons, training, and fun!
First Impressions of Golden Ridge Stables
- I really liked this facility. A lot. Ann and Jill were so welcoming. They answered all my questions about everything. I actually said, "I need someone to just explain the horse world to me." Ann looked at me and said, "What do you want to know?" I was free to ask any question--even the questions that don't make any sense because you are so lost and confused the words come out all mixed up.
- They will keep your kids safe on a horse. Much of their clientele are youth. They understand kids. When talking to Ann, she said, "When you are learning to ride, you need a horse that will make the decision for you." Meaning, you need a trustworthy horse that will let you learn the mechanics of riding while they plod along. That statement convinced me that they know what they are doing regarding both student and horse.
- The horses are breathtaking and well cared for! Val stole my heart and there are three that are older than 30 (which pretty ancient for any horse).
- Everyone has an equal opportunity to learn to ride and enjoy horses. Their goal is to make horsemen which will give each student/horse owner a lifelong appreciation.
If you are interested in riding lessons at all and are in the southern metro, I highly recommend Golden Ridge. It's great for seasoned riders and for brand new beginners. They are welcoming and friendly and understanding that life is crazy, but they want you to enjoy horses. They work with you to make sure that happens.
Gianna Kordatzky is a co-founder of Family Fun Twin Cities. This article was originally written in September 2013