From lessons to camps to trail rides the options are endless to learn about horses.

If you are looking for a new experience like no other, horseback riding might just be what you are looking for. It’s not going to be a one-time thing, but will become a journey that many will come to love.

A Journey through Horsemanship

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Photo courtesy of Sun Pony Ranch.

Autumn Haney, owner and trainer of Edens Aspens Horsemanship in Longmont, says that there are several ways that those interested in horses can get involved but that if you really want to learn about horsemanship it starts from the ground up.

At Edens Aspens families can help set their own goals, but when it comes to lessons it is important for students to understand that learning about the horse itself is important in order to make a connection that involves trust. Lessons generally are once a week and build upon each other.

Haney says students begin on the ground with the horse and work on body communications. “Body language is important and it teaches safety for the horse and the children.”

Ground work also includes information about the anatomy of the horse and discussions on how to keep the horse healthy. Once the comfort level begins to grow between student and horse, leading of an obstacle course will take place and then eventually riding. Students will also learn saddling and packing. Once riding has become natural, Haney says trail rides begin.

So why all the hard work? Haney says it’s simple and basic, but goes back to nature. “The easiest and most basic ‘why’ is horses are prey and we are predators,” she says. “Horses are very instinctual and trust is huge for horses.” In other words, the process helps trust build between both student and horse so that the riding experience will be a joyful one.

Since there is no timeframe on how long the horsemanship process could take since it depends on the student and the horse’s comfort level, Haney offers families the chance to come out, watch and discover what is happening at Edens Aspens before signing up.

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Photo courtesy of Edens Aspens.

Other ways to get involved is at the summer camps offered at Edens Aspens. Summer camps run about a week and are for kids between the ages of 7 and 12.

“Typically people who get involved with horses are nature lovers. They love coming out to the barn, being in nature and going out on trail rides and seeing the wildlife,” Haney says. “Also being able to connect with an animal is something extremely unique. It is something you long for once you’ve had it.”

Horse Camps & Clinics

The options are endless at Sun Pony Ranch in Longmont. From private and group lessons, birthday parties, clinics and summer camps you can learn all about horsemanship and riding.

Ginger Fedak, co-owner of Sun Pony Ranch, says that learning to ride is a process and takes time. “At Sun Pony Ranch, safety is always our No. 1 priority, followed closely by learning and fun,” she says. “We teach a lot of ‘natural horsemanship’ because understanding a horse and why they act the way they do helps communication, bonding and being safe.”

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Photo courtesy of Edens Aspens.

Getting started can be as easy as signing up for a program called “Introduction to Horses & Riding”. Fedak says this program is perfect for people who don’t know much about horses. It is offered for different age groups throughout the year and is tailored to them. This is a great opportunity to test the waters and see if it is something you are interested in before you commit to lessons or camps, she says.

If your interest has been piqued by the introduction course, a week-long camp might be just what you are looking for. While the regular horse camp is for ages 8 to 14, parents will get the chance to participate when their child had Horse Show Day where they dress up their horse and get the chance to show-off to their families what they have learned. The Little Buckaroo three-day camp is similar and is for kids ages 5 to 7. There is even an intro clinic for those ages 2.5 to 4 called “Mommy (or Daddy or Grandparent) & Me.”

“Horses and riding are a fun family activity because the kids are so excited to participate and the parents are having so much joy watching the kids have so much fun,” Fedak says. “It is fun to learn together and laugh with each other. Sharing a love of animals and gaining an appreciation for the special qualities of horses is a bonding experience.”

Fedak stresses too that students and families need to realize that there is no time frame on how quickly students will learn and to become a really good rider could take years.

-By Summer McElley, Longmont Magazine