On the east side of the Metro and interested in learning how to ride and care for a horse? Head on over to Windy Ridge Ranch.
Where is Windy Ridge Ranch?
Windy Ridge Ranch is located on Manning Avenue South, 2.8 miles south of I-94. The entrance is at the bottom of rolling hills, and the property sits on 22 acres, high on a ridge.
A Picture of Windy Ridge Ranch
Mark Ward started Windy Ridge Ranch in 1979, and has been running it ever since. He began with boarding horses and teaching riding lessons. No longer boarding horses, he owns 47 well-trained lessons horses, many of whom are also leased to students.
The chief activity of the operation is group riding lessons for ages 7 through adult.
Mark and his wife, Katie, run the ranch with the help of Mark’s son and daughter-in-law. Mark teaches the group lessons. Katie helps with jumping lessons and gives some of Mark’s riders private lessons.
Lessons are given in English and Western as well as dressage and jumping. They both participate in competitions and take lessons themselves, so you know they have a current and active knowledge of horsemanship.
Mark has a large personality and a voice that carries across an arena. He has confidence and grace which is crucial for teaching riders and training horses. He is calm and patient with horses and with students, helping them to understand concepts and to progress in their riding skills.
What does Windy Ridge Ranch Offer?
Group Lessons, year-round: Junior Beginner, Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced. Class Times and Prices can be found here.
Leasing Program --available for serious students to enjoy practically all the riding time they would like.
Windy Ridge Ranch provides a well-organized equestrian program for every level of rider. Fun, safety, and good horsemanship are emphasized for both beginners and advanced riders. Experienced students have the opportunity to practice ride or lease a horse, to go on trail rides and camping trips, to compete in various shows, to join 4-H, and to participate in other activities, such as Drill Teams, which show at the county and state fairs.
First Impressions of Windy Ridge Ranch
It was easy to find and had a lot of room for parking.
Everyone was so friendly, from Mark to the beginners. I was invited to ask questions, and all were eager to show my kids the beautiful animals being groomed. We did not feel like we were intruding, and it was easy to navigate around the ranch.
They have three arenas: two outdoor and one indoor. Everything runs like clockwork. When one class is in session, students in the next class are grooming their horses and preparing to ride. The indoor arena means lessons can be held year-round. They are only cancelled due to extreme temperatures or extreme storms.
- Riders could choose for themselves if they wanted to ride Western, English, or even bareback, but every rider, no matter what style of riding they choose is required to wear a helmet. We were able to watch as they learned horse handling, horse care and riding etiquette.
As a parent, I would be very confident having Kyla take lessons here. Mark knew all his students by name. There was an appropriate balance of instruction and practice. He was confident and took safety seriously. Checking out Windy Ridge Ranch is worth your time.
This article was originally published by Gianna Kordatzky on September 10, 2013, as part of a series of stable reviews. Find them all in our Twin Cities Stables Overview.