While it may seem pretty obvious to those who have been perusing this site for a bit or to anyone who knows us, I'll say it anyway--our horses are our family and their well-being is our top priority. We are proud to count among our herd two very healthy and happy senior citizens who love their job as lesson horses. They are the been-there-done-that type of horses that are safe for beginners and children, yet still a fun and challenging mount for their more advanced riders.
We take the best care of our four-legged staff, and from their hooves to their teeth and everything in between they receive nothing but top-notch care from dedicated, expert practitioners of veterinary medicine, equine dentistry, chiropractics and farriery.
Since we don't rely exclusively on our horses as our only means of income, we are able to make decisions about their workload and care that are truly in their best interest rather than economically-motivated. None of our lesson horses is required to give more than two lessons per day, and they always get more than one day off per week where their only responsibility is to be a horse, and maybe go for a walk down to the arena to get turned out for a romp with their buddies. This means their minds, bodies and spirits stay fresh, willing, eager and excited about their job. You will never find an emotionally fried or physically burnt-out horse in our group!
We also spend ample time preparing them to be lesson horses because we believe that just like anything else we ask horses to do, they need to learn the skills required for the job, such as taking care of beginners and children, being patient and tolerant of different people handling and riding them, being attentive, responsive and obedient to people of all ages and experience levels, controlling their reactions to different stimuli, and being courteous to all their visitors. All these and other skills are regularly reviewed and improved upon so that the horses don't get dull, sour or develop bad habits.
Horses, just like humans, can get fatigued by an overly-repetitive and boring routine. To combat career burn-out and make sure they stay interested in their job, we keep our horses' work routine fresh and varied--one day we go for a trail ride in the hills, the next we might haul over to Jeffco Fairgrounds to ride in the indoor arena, and the day after that we may set up an obstacle course in our home arena, complete with a ball that Cariah can push around with her nose. Their riding routine is interspersed with plenty of ground-work such as lunging, long-lining, and round-pen exercises to help them develop and maintain the muscles required to comfortably carry a rider.
Another important factor to consider with horses is that every one is a unique individual with its own personality, preferences, thoughts and quirks. Our training and care routine--just like each one of our lessons--is customized to each individual rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.