How do I get started? "CLICK HERE" and you are well on your way - Introductory
Lesson. You will then have a chance to see the facility and meet some of the staff as well
as a few school horses before making any decisions.
How much are lessons? What are your lesson packages available? Group lessons
cost about $45 per lesson for a 13 -week session. We offer group, private, and semi-
private lessons. We also offer extra lessons for the different show teams. Click on the
individual barns to see their complete prices and packages.
Do you offer family, group, or military discounts? Yes, we do however offer a multiple
family discount for lessons and camp. No, we do not offer discounts for groups or the
What do I need to wear or bring with me? For the Introductory Lesson all you need are
jean, close-toed shoes and a sense of humor! Once you have signed up for lessons you
will need an ASTM/SEI certified helmet, pair of boots with a ¼” to ½” heel, and fitted pants
or jeans are required. Riding gloves, crop, and ridding jodhpurs are also suggested during
the 1st 13 weeks. You will want to dress in “zip-up” layers during the winter and gloves, no
scarves. You will want to remember to bring water and sunscreen during the summer
months. It is also recommended to wear minimal jewelry. It can get caught in the tack and
can be broken by the horse.
Are helmets required? Can it be a bicycle helmet? Yes, ASTM/SEI helmets are
required. No, you may not use a bicycle helmet. You will be required to have a properly
fitted ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet. Bicycle helmets are great for when you are riding a
bicycle, and just like when you are riding on horseback, should be used each ride. Bicycle
helmets however are NOT suitable for horseback riding because they are designed to
protect your head from the forces that occur in a fall from a bicycle. Most falls on a bicycle
result in frontal or occipital head injuries, so the helmets have the most protection in those
areas. Falls from a horse are usually from a greater height, and impacts can be on the
front, top, back or side of the head, and because of this the helmet for horseback riding
has more protection around the entire head. Another difference is that because of the
likelihood of impact with a hard object such as a jump or a horse's hoof, the riding helmet is
designed to take these factors into account whereas a bike helmet is not.
Can I ride in tennis shoes? No, even though tennis shoes and other closed toed shoes
seem like they would protect your foot, they are not suitable for riding. Shoes with a flat
sole are a serious safety hazard for any rider because the foot can slide forward through
the stirrup and become entrapped...while in this precarious position, a person can easily
lose their balance and fall. The result would be that the rider can be dragged or even
stepped on by the horse causing serious injury to the rider.
What is the Introductory Lesson? The Introductory Lesson gives you an opportunity to
see the facility and meet some of the staff and a few school horses before you pay for
lessons. There is no registration, but there are a limited amount of spots open. Riders
must have a closed-toed shoe and pants. If you do not have a helmet, we can provide one
for the lesson. The instructor will cover some of the rules for being around horses as well
as a safety check. Individuals with little to no experience will then mount onto a safe
beginner horse that will be lead around. You will then be taught the basics stopping, going,
steering, and how to hold your reins. You may even trot a little. Individuals with riding
experience will be separated into a different group where you will walk, trot, and if you are
ready, canter. You will also be asked to demonstrate the posting trot, jump position, and
sitting trot. The Instructor may also have you go over a small jump.
I’ve never ridden before, is that OK? Yes, this is perfectly fine. We take riders of all
levels, from beginner thru advanced. Everyone has to start somewhere.
What should I expect for my first, ever horseback riding lesson? Lots of excitement!
You will be nervous, excited, giddy, and maybe even a little fearful. This is normal. You will
arrive 15 minutes early to check in. You will be greeted with a smile and shown where your
horse is located. Someone will teach you how to bridle your horse and will help you to the
ring. The Instructor will introduce themselves and the rest of the class and show you how to
adjust your stirrups and tighten your girth. They will then help you mount and finish
adjusting your stirrups. You will learn the basics of riding; just like the Introductory Lesson.
You will practice this throughout the lesson. At the end, the instructor will bring everyone to
the center and talk about what you have learned, what you will work on next week, and
some of the upcoming events. They will then help you dismount. You will return to the barn
and unbridle your horse. You are finished and will have a big smile on your face. We can’t
wait to see you again next week!
What will I learn in the 1st 13 weeks? What is covered in the 13 weeks depends in large
part on the group. By the end of the 1st 13 weeks, most classes can post the trot in a
group, go over trotting poles and a small cross-rail in 2-point, and have cantered one at a
time in 2-point a few times.
Do I get to trot in the 1st lesson? How long before I get to canter? When do I get
to jump? Yes, all of our beginner students will trot in their 1st lesson; usually from point “A”
to point “B”. After learning how to post, they will then be introduced to the 2-point position
for jumping and their 1st canter. Most of the students will jump a small cross-rail and do
their 1st canter by then end of their 1st 13 weeks.
How are the classes divided? Will I be with other riders at my level or age? We do
separate the classes by age and ability. 5 - 7 year olds are placed into our Pony Pal
classes. The parents will learn how to lead. It is a great bonding time for parent and child.
Once they reach the age of 8, they will be placed into our “children’s” classes. The ages
range from 8 to 16. The adults are placed in their own groups. We also separate the
groups by level. The levels are beginner (C/A1 or C/A1+), intermediate (C/A2 or C/A2+),
advanced (C/A3 or C/A3+).
What is the starting age for lessons? Should I let my 5 year old do lessons? Am I
too old to start learning how to ride? We offer lessons for 5 – 105. The younger riders
(5 - 7) will be placed into Pony Pal classes where their parent will be taught to lead them.
We also have several mature adults (young at heart) who also start riding later in life. It is
never too late to start. Most people ride to relax and relieve stress. Come add years to your
How many riders are in a class? The beginner classes typically have 4 - 6 students;
some of the more advanced classes can have up to 8 riders.
How many days a week do you do lessons? We are open 7 days a week. We will have
different level classes offered every day of the week.
How often are the lessons? How long are the lessons? Each group lesson is
scheduled on the same day at the same time every week for one hour. So, once a week at
the same time. Semi-private lessons are also 1 hour long and private lessons are for 45
What if I miss a lesson? We have a very liberal make-up policy. Please, notify the office
of any absence. Riders missing a class have the entire 13 weeks to make up their lesson.
Do you have lessons when it rains or snows? Yes, we typically do hold our lessons in the
rain and snow. Feel free to call the barn or check our web-site before coming to your
lesson. We do not follow the school system. Simply call ahead to schedule a make-up
lesson if you choose to not ride in the bad weather,
Will I need to supply my own horse or equipment? No, we supply you with a well-
trained lesson horse and all the required tack and equipment. Some of our students like to
purchase their own stirrup leathers and irons to ride in.
Will my child ride a horse or pony? We frequently use ponies and small horses for our
Pony Pal riders, but size of the horse is not necessarily an indicator of how well behaved
the horse is. We prefer a sweet temperament, using slow and calm horses for our beginner
What disciplines or style of riding do you offer? We start our beginner students in
BALANCE SEAT, an English form of riding. We quickly introduce the 2-point position,
otherwise known as the ½ seat or jump position. As our riders progress, they will then learn
the sitting trot and hunt seat (aka: light seat or 3-point.) Once our riders are balanced and
have some experience, we offer more specialized lessons in dressage, eventing, and
hunter/jumper. For the less serious rider, we continue to teach pleasure riding. You can
also ask the individual barns about western riding, endurance riding, and gymkhana.
Will I be riding in a western saddle? No, we typically teach in an English saddle, but you
can ask Woodland Horse Center as they do offer western.
Do you have a weight restriction for your riders? Do you have to be skinny to
ride? No, we do not have a restriction, but we do take into account balance and safety
issues. It is the stable’s discretion. We appreciate your understanding of this matter and for
keeping our horse’s health in mind.
How many lessons do you recommend or require a week? Most riders start off with a
weekly lesson. We do have students that ride more than once a week. This is a personal
choice depending on your needs and goals. But, do remember that muscle memory lasts
for 3-4 days. Someone riding only once a week will take much longer then someone riding
2-3 times a week.
Do you suggest private lessons to start out with? Maybe for someone that hasn’t
ridden in a while so they can get their “horse” legs back before trying to keep up with a
group lesson. But, for most it is fine to start in the group lessons. The group lessons build a
comradely and friendships among the students.
What if I am afraid? Being a little afraid is healthy and normal. You will have more self-
preservation when riding. We will work with you to overcome any major fears and help build
your confidence and understanding of horses. Through positive feedback and encouraging
words, you will feel comfortable and relaxed around and on the horses.
Is horseback riding safe? Yes, but you should know that horseback riding is considered
a rugged adventure recreational sport activity. There are numerous obvious and non-
obvious inherent risks always present in such activity despite all safety precautions. It is our
goal to provide a safe, suitable mount appropriate for you to learn and enjoy horseback
Will I fall? Yes, at some point everyone will have an “unexpected dismount”. If a rider falls
from a horse to the ground, it will generally be a distance of 3 ½ to 5 ½ feet and the impact
may result in injury to the rider. Falls are inevitable, but we take every precaution
necessary with our lessons to ensure that a minimal amount of falls occur. This is one
reason why a properly fitted approved ASTM/SEI certified riding helmet, proper attire, and
footwear is required. We also have certain safety plans in effect for our lesson program as
well as well-trained school horses.
What are the benefits of riding? Who likes working out at the gym? Why would you
when you can ride and spend some time on a horse. Horseback riding is great for the body.
Riding works with several muscle groups while giving you that much needed stress relief. It
is not only good for the heart, but it is good for the soul and mind. It adds years to our lives.
For those that like being with nature on a beautiful day and enjoy a warm spring breeze,
then horseback riding is for you. From working those muscles, building your cardio, and
simply enjoying life; the benefits of horseback riding are priceless.
How long does it take to learn how to ride a horse? Well, that depends on your
personal goals, athleticism, and ability to understand the movement of the horse. Most
riders are not comfortable riding by themselves for at least one year after starting lessons.
You will also learn very quickly, that it is a never-ending process. There are not too many
sports out there that require a person to sit on an animal with a mind of its own and have to
find a way to convince that animal to listen. They are not bicycles.
How experienced are the instructors and are they certified? Our instructors have
extensive training in many riding disciplines such as balance seat, pleasure riding,
dressage, hunt seat, eventing, jumpers, western, and endurance riding. All instructors are
required and have been certified through Mike Smith’s Instructor School. Training continues
on an on-going basis to keep our lesson plans fresh, fun, and educational.
What is your philosophy on teaching? We understand that the most important aspect is
“safety first”. We also want our students to have fun while learning to ride, whether they are
beginner riders or our most advanced students. We are dedicated to the art of horseback
riding and are thrilled to share our love for all things equestrian with our students. Everyone
takes much pride in their teaching and wants to help each student to achieve their
individual riding goals. It takes a team to offer such exceptional service.
Is the Instruction kind, supportive, and enthusiastic? Our philosophy of teaching is to
be supportive, enthusiastic, and motivating. We understand that most of our students come
to our barns to enjoy riding as a hobby and/or lower level competition; therefore they want
to have a positive experience and trusting relationship with their instructor. Mike Smith
instills in all his employees patience and kindness. He accepts nothing less.
THE SCHOOL HORSES
Are your horses calm and quiet? Yes, we choose our school horses for their calm
disposition and sound basic training as is required for use for student riders and we follow a
rigid safety program. Yet, no riding horse is a completely safe horse. Horseback riding is
the only sport where one much smaller, weaker predator animal (human) tries to impose its
will on and become one unit of movement with another much larger, stronger prey animal
with a mind of its own (horse) and each has a limited understanding of the other.
Do you have different level of horses for the different levels of riders? Having the
right horse for each level of rider/lesson is important to us. We have the older, steady,
unflappable horses for our beginners to begin their riding on, the athletic, bold horses for
our more advance riders to compete, and everything in between. We pride ourselves on
being able to offer all level of horses for our riders to achieve their goals.
Are the horses healthy? All of our horses are on a well-balanced diet of hay and grain.
They are routinely visited by the farrier and are on a regular vaccination schedule. They
are limited to how many hours they can work and are given lots of TLC from the staff as well
as our students.
How many times a day do the horses get ridden? That depends on the horse as well
as the lesson plan. Some of our younger, more energetic horses may work 4 to 5 times a
day, while some of our older horses will be more limited. A horse assigned to lower level
classes may also go more frequently than a horse going into a few jumping lessons.
Do you provide breaks for them? Yes, no horse is allowed to go more than 2 hours in a
row without a break. We want our horses to have a break and be fresh for their next lesson.
The horses are also required to go back for a drink in between lessons on the hotter days.
How old are the school horses? From 5 - 25 years old. We have horses of all ages for
our students. Maintaining a balance ensures us a diverse group of horses for our student’s
needs and wants.
Do horses like to be ridden? I think like most of us, we would rather be playing or
hanging at home relaxing. Same with the horses; they would prefer to be in their stalls
eating hay or playing in the field with their friends. But, they do like the companionship of
humans. They like to please and want a job. In return, we give them treats and lots of
affection. They certainly appreciate that.
Can we give the horses treats? Yes, bribery is a wonderful tool when it comes to
horses. They do like getting carrots, apples, peppermints, sugar cubes, and regular horse
treats. Rewarding them for working hard for you is always encouraged. You can always put
the treats into their food buckets.
Are the barns clean and organized? Yes, the stalls are cleaned on a daily basis. They
are given fresh water throughout the day. We have regular staff as well as volunteers to
help maintain the cleanliness of the barn and surrounding areas.
What is the age group of students riding? We have all ages of riders. We have the
Pony Pal classes that are for ages 5-7, children’s classes for ages 8-16, and adult classes.
The adult classes are usually later in the evening, while the children’s classes are early
evening. We promote riding for all ages. It is never too late to start riding.
How many students are riding? This would depend on which barn you choose. Each
barn has a different size clientele based on the size of the barn and the activities they hold.
No matter the size, we have a sense of family. Everyone knows each other.
Do you have an indoor and outdoor arena? Yes, all the barns have both indoor and
Am I allowed to tour the barn or watch a lesson? Yes, you are always welcome to walk
around the barns or watch a lesson. We also suggest coming to the Introductory Lesson
that we hold on a weekly basis.
Can I just trail ride? Do you give guided trail rides? No, we do not do trail rides to the
general public, but we do have opportunities within our lessons to go on trail rides.
Can I rent a horse? Do you lease horses? No, we do not rent horses to the general
public, but we do offer Equi-share, Equi-Lease, and we do lease a few of our higher level
school horses to our students.
Do you board horses or are just lesson barns? Yes, however we are primarily lesson
barns, but we do board horses for our students. All boarders are required to take lessons.
Should I buy a horse for my child when starting lessons? No, your child is going to
learn a lot their first year of riding and the level of the horse or pony will change frequently,
so we do recommend waiting at least a year before purchasing your first horse or pony.
How do I know which barn to pick? The barn to pick will depend on your location. Click
on each barn to see which one is closest to you.
Are you insured? Yes, the barns are insured. You will still be required to fill out a release
agreement stating that should emergency medical treatment be required, your own
accident/medical insurance company shall pay for all such incurred expenses and that you
release the barn from legal liability.
Do you offer other horse related activities? Yes, we offer several opportunities
throughout the year to get more involved with the barn and horses. There are several
activities such as the Halloween party, Holiday party, In-house shows, and show teams to
get involved with.
Do you offer the option to show? Yes, each barn offers In-house shows, schooling
shows as well as show teams to go to “away” shows. Check out each individual barn to see
what shows they offer as well as the different show teams.
Do you offer camps throughout the year? Yes, we are well known for having the best
camps in the area. We offer summer camps, winter break camps, spring break camps, and
daily camps for when the kids are out of school. Check out each barn for dates and prices.
What are your hours of operation? This depends on the barn you pick. All the barns are
open 7 days a week.
clean and healthy,
people who truly
Woodland offers so
opportunities for all
levels and ages
that the only
finding the time
to participate in
all the activities.
My favorite part
as a parent,
though, is the
caring staff: I
have the peace
my child is
care of in the
most warm and
way. ~ Masha
It's Time to Ride!!