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The Guide: Horseback riding

Where to go to get back in the saddle

Andrew Feiler

Megan Rodgers, 8, has her fourth riding lesson with instructor Molly Magoon at High Spirits Farm.

July 14, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Head away from the city and out to the countryside to experience the many horseback-riding options that mid-Missouri offers. With a little help from Vox, aspiring riders can find the perfect lesson.

Indoor riding

Know your horse lingo

Head out to mid-Missouri’s ranches knowing the language of equestrians. Vox breaks down each style of horseback riding so that the instructor will be instantly impressed.

Dressage: A traditional style that involves skilled movements in a rectangular arena. Dressage is used by Olympic competitors and is considered an art form as well as a style of riding.

Driving: Horse driving, also known as pleasure driving, involves a cart that is attached to a horse. Perfect for people who might be uncomfortable riding a horse, driving involves learning how to guide and control the horse through different gaits.

Gait: Refers to the different ways that a horse can move, such as a walk, trot, canter, gallop and rack. All of these movements involve lifting the feet and legs in a different order or rhythm.

Groundwork: Includes basic exercises such as grooming and leading. The purpose of these exercises is to build trust between horse and rider.

Hunt seat: This is an English style of riding that can involve jumping. Lessons often involve learning how to guide the horse over jumps in a calm and precise manner.

Hunter pleasure: This style strictly assesses a horses’ manners, obedience, consistency, movement and appearance. Horses are trained to be quiet and consistent.

Saddle seat: Often seen in horse shows, there is no jumping involved in saddle-seat riding, and horses often perform in three walking styles: walk, trot and canter.
In this style, the animation of the horse is very important and involves things such as a high-head carriage and high stepping.

Western: Western-style riding involves a Western saddle, which has a horn at the front of it. The pace of Western riding is the jog and the lope and features shorter strides of styles such as the trot and the canter.

Western pleasure: A style of competition that evaluates horses’ manners. Horses must have a relaxed gait, relatively slow speed and a calm disposition.


--Jessica Schuster
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Palmer Stables
Where: 4370 N. Andrews Lane
When: Monday through Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $25 for a 20- to 22-minute lesson
Call: 886-0942
Available horses: Six lesson horses

Palmer Stables offers saddle-seat lessons for all riders and Western lessons if riders bring their own riding equipment. Taught only in an enclosed barn, lessons comprise 20 to 22 minutes of continuous riding. Groundwork can be incorporated if students want to learn.

Indoor and outdoor riding

Columbia Equestrian Center
Where: 5925 N. Route East
When: Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m.; weekends during daylight hours
Cost: $35 for a group lesson; $45 for a private lesson
Call: 356-7993
Online: columbiaequestriancenter.com
Available horses: 10 to 11 lesson horses

Lessons at the Columbia Equestrian Center involve more than just learning how to ride a horse. Each hour-long lesson includes 30 to 45 minutes of riding time, and the remainder focuses on learning how to groom and saddle horses. Riding options include saddle seat, Western, hunter pleasure, jumping and driving. Lessons are taught in both a small indoor arena and a large outdoor arena.

Glendale Stables LLC
Where: 4550 North Glendale Drive
When: Appointment only
Cost: First lesson free; $30 for a 30-minute lesson; packages available
Call: 814-1152
Online: glendalestables.com
Available horses: More than 40 lesson horses

Glendale Stables LLC offers lessons for students of all ages, and many of its students have a strong interest in participating in horse shows. With one-on-one lessons in saddle seat riding, students will master different gaits. Each lesson gives students details on how to properly groom horses, teaches proper equipment to use and instructs on proper safety procedures.

High Spirits Farm
Where: 11000 S. Hardwick Lane
When: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $30 for one lesson; packages available
Call: 808-6543
Online: highspiritsfarm.com
Available horses: Six lesson horses

At High Spirits Farm, riding lessons in the large indoor arena are taught in either saddle-seat style or driving style. The indoor arena is part of a large white barn that sits at the top of the farm’s sloping land.

Stephens Equestrian Center
Where: 201 N. Old 63
When: Monday through Friday children’s sessions 8 a.m. to noon; adult classes 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: Summer riding program only July 18 through 22; $275 for five-day adult session; $300 for five-day child session (ages 8-14)
Call: 876-7144
Online: stephens.edu
Available horses: 15 to 20 lesson horses for the summer program

Since the ’40s, Stephens College has offered a summer riding program to Columbians. Before they begin lessons at the center, instructors teach students how to create a relationship with their horses on the ground. Beginning riding classes use Western-style saddles and teach the basics of riding and safety. For more advanced riders, hunt seat or hunter-jumper style and Western pleasure style are available.

Outdoor riding

Walnut Slope Riding School
Where: 9601 N. Memar Road
When: Monday through Friday (except Wednesday) 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 7:30, 9, 10:30 a.m. and noon
Cost: $33 for a two-hour group lesson; $43 for a two-hour private lesson; $30 for a 90-minute toddler lesson
Call: 449-5961
Available horses: 14 lesson horses

For 19 years, the Walnut Slope Riding School has taught students how to ride in styles including Western, hunt seat, jumping and dressage. With 47 acres in northwest Columbia and only outdoor riding space, Walnut Slope provides students with a unique connection to nature. Instructor Colby Tinsley starts lessons in the outdoor arena, and later students are promoted to pasture or field riding.

Wild Horse Creek Ranch
Where: 7606 Scott Road, Russellville
When: June through August — Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment. September through May — Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday during daylight hours; Sunday by appointment
Cost: $60 for a Saturday pass; $40 for an after-school lesson; $50 for a private lesson
Call: 694-9690
Online: wildhorsecreek.net
Available horses: Eight lesson horses

First-timers will learn how to ride in the style of hunt seat in one of the ranch’s three arenas. According to ranch owner Anne Thill, learning hunt seat before Western allows for the development of the correct balance required for riding. Lessons are an hour long, but Thill encourages students to come before the lesson to learn how to saddle horses and do groundwork.

Willow Ponds Farm, LLC
Where: 2202 W. Williams Road, Sturgeon
When: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 pm.
Cost: $40 for a beginner private lesson; $40 for a group lesson
Call: 442-8493
Online: willowpondsfarm.com
Available horses: Six lesson horses

Willow Ponds Farm, LLC, instructor Kim Krieckhaus emphasizes safety, includes different types of recreation, such as trail rides and games, and encourages confidence in the rider. Krieckhaus teaches balanced seat riding, which aims to develop the rider’s harmony with the horse and direct the horse’s movements. This type of riding is a generic form of riding that can transfer to many other riding styles, including Western, hunt seat and dressage.

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