Holding the Reins: Meet Kat

Let me introduce you to Kat.  She is a prime example of a super success story for our riders and our wonderful school horses.


In this continuing series you will meet a huge spectrum of our riders.  I am excited to bring them to you as everyone in the horse-world comes to it from their own point of view and expectations.  I love how everyone is different!

Kat came to us because of our Western program.  She has been a student of mine for almost four years and has always been a pleasure to teach. Quick learner and always willing to try.  She rode many horses in her lesson but quickly fell in love with Puzzle.  Puzzle showed her the ropes and was a great teacher for Kat.  Then it happened…Kat decided horse ownership was in the cards.  We tried some younger school horses and then she rode Carl.  It was magical.  They spoke each others language!  Kat said to me, “Now this is what it’s supposed to feel like!”  She is still smiling as she purchased Carl in 2016.  They have brought incredible joy to each others life and make me happy to see them together every day!!

I asked her to share some of her thoughts…and she did!!

What made you think about taking horseback riding lessons?  “Many of my most meaningful memories from childhood were on horseback.  There was always a connection there that really mattered.  At a time in my life when I needed to give to myself, horseback riding lessons was a natural fit.”  Horses are so good for humans.  Period. End of sentence!

Why western?  “I grew up out west where western riding is the ‘go to’ style.  All my previous experience had been in a western saddle.   It was the only thing I knew.  Besides – those English saddles looked so…small.”  For many adult riders, me included, we have a little bit of fear when coming back to riding as an adult.  Many feel “safer” in a western saddle.  Kat took to it quickly and has expanded her knowledge and now rides English and Western.  Too much knowledge is a good thing!!



Where did you think this was going to take you?  Any preconceived thoughts?  “I thought I would ride once a week, similar to the riding I did in my 20s.  I think I knew there was a lot to the sport, but I really didn’t know just HOW much!”  It is amazing the avenues that are available to you as an equestrian.  Another thing is that aspects of one area can help you in others.  Learn as much as you can!

Where have you actually gone?  “Beyond my wildest dreams!  First of all, there is Carl!!!  I own a horse.  That is just,…well… there really are no words for how important Carl is to my life and my well-being.  I’m learning so many things – obstacle riding, roping, working cattle, riding English (which, it turns out, I love), dressage!!!!, a little jumping.  I never though I could do, much less excel, at so many riding skills.  And there is so much more to learn.”  So exciting!  Like I said…many skills learned in other aspects of riding help when you try a new thing!!

What has surprised you?  “One day, Katy Espinoza asked me if I would be interested in becoming an instructor.  After my heart stopped and I picked my jaw up off the floor, I surprised myself by saying yes. Taking that big step outside my comfort zone has turned out to be a real gift.  My students are incredible learners, but most of all they are incredible people and teachers. I haven’t messed anyone up yet; and they have made me a better rider in the process.”  Teaching is what brings things full circle.  To be able to share what you know with another person and help make their dreams come true is special and so fulfilling for all involved.

What are your goals for the future? “Right now, I want Carl to have a solid halt and a consistently smooth right lead canter transition.   We’re working on training level dressage tests and skills.  And, I MUST get Carl with cows.”  Once a Western rider…always a western rider at heart!!




Mud, Mud and more MUD!

Our horses seem to love having a good roll in the mud.

It make it harder for us to keep them groomed and pretty but we equestrians don’t seem to mind…too much!


So why do horse like getting muddy?

There are many reasons but one of them is just the pure fun of doing it.

Social Component

If you have ever watched horses roll and play in mud you will see the joy in their faces.  They will try and encourage their turnout mates to join the fun.  Horses are social creatures and rolling in whatever they can find is a big part of their social routine.

Skin/Coat Care

Our horses skin and coat need maintenance.  There are all sorts of skin issues that rolling in the mud and dirt help with.  Insect are part of our horses daily life.  Rolling in mud and dirt help keep the bugs off of them and also give a good scratch to area that to bugs have nibbled.  Also, as the mud dries it helps keep their skin dry and healthy.

Air Conditioning

The cooling action of the drying mud helps cool our horses.  These days where it is warm then cold then warm are challenging.  Rolling in mud then letting it dry helps regulate their temperature.

Time to ride!?

So, you have come to the barn to discover your gorgeous horse had rolled and is encased in a cocoon of mud and crud.  We do our best to get them clean and here is why we all do any extra good job.

It is amazing how our horses can damage themselves in turnout and when they are encased in mud it is easy to miss an injury.  It is our job (and pleasure) to inspect and clean every square inch of our horse before we ride, graze, mess with our horses.  They can’t always tell us what is bothering them so we have to find it.

If we miss an open boo-boo and do not get it clean and treated then big problems can develop.  Fungus and infection can come on quickly and you must get ahead of it right away.  Remember…your horse is depending on YOU!

So go on and get in there.  Get your horse super-clean.  Make sure they are in good shape.  Treat anything you see because too much care is better than not enough.

Remember…we are part of your horses social network too and they enjoy having a good grooming and spending good quality bonding time with you too!


And the Holiday Parties were Fabulous!!

What a bunch of party animals we are!!


The holidays were a great time to get together and spend some time catching up with each other!  Our Students, Teams and Staff were no exception!

the team1

the team2

The Saddle Club Show Team party was held at Karen & Bryan’s house.  Pot Luck dinner followed by a hilarious White Elephant Gift Exchange was a blast!  We even got a new team mascot!  Meet Woody the Giraffe!

team mascot woody

Our Staff Party was a ton of fun with the most hysterical round of Musical Chairs I have ever seen!


The Meringue Fairy arrived too!!


Our Barn Decorating Party was wonderful and the Drill Performance was very exciting!

IMG_0723  IMG_0741  IMG_0746IMG_0750

The “Drill Bits” Adult Drill Team party was wonderful and held at Karen & Bryan’s house.  Lots of food, drinks and more silly gift exchanges that night too!

team 2017

See you all at next years parties!!

Bruno’s Happy Holiday

As most of you know, Bruno was voted 2017 School Horse of the Year by our Woodland family.  He has been enjoying some quality time off.  Lots of grooming, loving and Mother Nature has improved her attitude and sent us weather so Bruno can go outside and play as much as he wants.

Today Bruno received a special gift from the great gals at Anytime Tack.

He was given an Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball and boy has he been having an excellent time with his treat.  Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball is the perfect stall treat for your horse! Bruno will spend hours trying to lick and grab this entertaining and delicious ball made of corn, oats and some sugar.


Bruno is not always the bravest horse so we introduced his treat to him carefully.  He had no problem and instantly fell in love with his stall entertainmnet system :))

I went into his stall about 30 minutes after the ball was hung and he had been having so much fun with it!  His head was wet and sticky from playing and he was smiling from ear to ear.


Bruno says, “Thanks everybody for my treat!  Especially Anna from Anytime Tack and Uncle Jimmy.  You guys are the best!!”

2018 Horseback Riding Goals

Our students share their goals, wishes & thoughts for the upcoming year!!

Learning to ride is an extremely challenging endeavor.   If you have every taken a lesson you know this is true!  You are sitting on a 1,000+ pound animal with thoughts and feelings of his/her own.  There are bound to be times when you feel extra “challenged”.

Your instructor has taught you to recognize the small victories and build upon them.

I asked a number of our riders about goals for the upcoming year.  Interesting and perceptive answers…

Devon Crawford, one of our newer Western students, shares her thoughts.  “As an adult returning to riding after many years, my 2018 goals are to reconnect with my inner child (and her love for horses) and to continue moving forward. I don’t want to push myself dangerously fast, but I also don’t want to stagnate. I would like to feel like I am improving at all times, whatever the pace may be. Maybe I will also try entering a Woodland show for the first time to get back into the feel of competition!”  A great approach if you asked me!!


Faye Griffith, a Western student who has been with me for many years said, “My goals for this year are to master getting the correct lead and to become proficient with the canter. Also, working to ride with legs and seat not relying so much on reins.”  I really like Fayes thinking as she know herself and her comfort level very well.  Having straight forward, fundimental goals gives you a very clear target.  You will get it Faye!!

Gegi Leeger, one of our English riders who just bought her first horse says, “My 2018 (yikes!!) is to establish a deep connection with my horse both while riding and on the ground. And to have more fun with all my barn friends, especially the Drill team ladies!”  Gegi is on track, if you ask me, as establishing a bond with your horse is key to the relationship.  And we all know the friendships developed at Woodland are forever and what make us so special…in my opinion!!  :))

Gegi n bentley

Whatever your goal(s), having a plan and a point to work toward will help you get where you want to go.  Sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes it is the little victories.  Whatever works for you…Go for IT!!

Saddle Club: Too Cold to Ride?

It may be but there is still lots to learn!!

This past Friday was a super cold day and the footing was too hard and the air temperatures too low to be safe for any living creature.  So what do we do for our Saddle Clubbers?

Saddle Club’s goal it to teach our members to be the most well-rounded equestrains they can be.  Learning to ride is immense fun but there is so much more to this sport.

On days where it is too cold or too hot to ride we work on our horsemanship skills.  Many of our members have horse ownership as a long-term goal.  Friday we reviewed all the saddle and bridle parts…then…we had them take their saddles and bridles apart or as apart as they come.  We cleaned our tack.  I mean really cleaned them!  Then the hard part came.  Putting their bridle back together.  There are so many bits and pieces, so to speak, that putting a bridle together can be really challenging.



Were the gals up for the challenge?  Yes, there were!!

The first time I put a bridle together I made every mistake possible, I think.  They can be VERY confusing!!  Evelyn, Casey, Sophia, Izzy and Kennedy did a great job.  Only a couple of small mistakes!!  The gals learned a lot!!



So why is this knowledge important?  You may not know this but when you buy a bridle it does not come assembled nor does it have a bit.  Your local tack shop may help you if you purchased the bridle and bit locally but if you order online, you are on your own.

Also, if you put your bridle on your horse and it is incorrectly assembled it could interfere with your communication.  It could also be uncomfortable for the horse.  That is never good as the horse can tell us in many way that something is incorrect.


So, cold or hot or perfect weather…there is always something new to learn. 

Good job girls!!



Boy, is it COLD Outside!!

Horses are built for the cold…mostly!

Horses and ponies are amazing creatures and thru evolution have developed some pretty wonderful ways to keep themselves healthy in extreme conditions.  On their own they can handle he cold very well.


Here’s the problem…humans interfere with the horses natural way of caring for themselves.  Silly humans!!

Most of us keep our beloved horses at a full board barn.  That’s great as there are many people around to keep a watchful eye on things.  They get turn out for the day then come into their stalls for dinner.  Once the horse is in his/her stall all natural ways for the horse to warm themselves ends.

We think we are doing them a favor but in the real world a horse that is outside in the cold can roll, play, move any way they like and that creates body heat.  Besides hay to eat and water to drink…that’s all they need!  They are very good at making the subtle adjustments needed for their health.

So, what happens when they are in the stall?  All rolling, playing, etc stops.  They do have hay and water so the heat generated in the digestive process is working for them but they can struggle in extreme cold.



It is so important if you keep your horse in a stall to have appropriate sheets and blankets for them to wear to conserve their body heat.

Courtney, with Anytime Tack shares, “an important thing to realized is if you don’t normally blanket your horse because they are extra fuzzy, when you decide to put a blanket on them you need to blanket as if they do not have a fuzzy coat.  The weight of the blanket  interferes with the horses natural way of warming themselves by puffing out their coat.”

She adds, “the breed and age of your horse needs to be taken into consideration too.  Thoroughbreds and Arabs typically have thinner skin and coats so need a heavier blanket.  Where your Fjord and draft breeds could use a little less blanketing.  Older horses need a little extra TLC too.”

If you come to the barn and your horse is shivering you need to pay attention as they are telling you that they need some support.

If we listen…our horses are “talking” with us all the time and it is our job to be listening all the time.  Stay warm out there!!




Who’s It Going To Be??

Don’t forget to vote for your School Horse of the Year!

There are only a few more hours in 2017!  Make sure your voice is heard!!

Ingrid D  033-Saddle-Club-Rina

If you have not voted you still have a little time.  Just comment on this blog and I will add your vote to the final tabulations.

The winner will be announced tomorrow, January 1st!

From all of us at Woodland Horse Center, we wish you a very Happy New Year full of great times with your favorite horse or pony.  Thank you all for being a big part of our happy…horsey…family!



Reindeer Games @ Woodland

A festive night for our riders of all ages!

Reindeer Games are a great excuse to come ride and forget about the pressures of the upcoming Holidays.  Or as my husband calls them…”The Holler-Days”!  If you are a level 2 or up these games are for YOU!!

We played a number of games this past Saturday night to include Merry Musical Cones which is a mounted version of Musical Chairs and a whole lotta fun!!  We also play Sharks and Minnows just because it is so much fun and nobody gets eliminated!  We finish with the Comet’s Command Class which is an elimination game where riders have a certain period of time to execute a specific command.  Like Simon Says but on horseback!  Our participants were Jen & Malcolm, Hadley & Sochi, Ingrid & Rocket, Lily & Cher, Bryan & Peso, Kat & Carl and Evelyn & Jack!

Enjoy the pictures of all the fun and…nobody came off!!  Ho-Ho-Ho!!

All dressed up!
Evelyn and Jack…a fabulous pair!
Hadley & Sochi had too much fun and took out Mom playing Sharks and Minnows!
Bryan & Peso doing their thing!
Lily feeling fuzzy on Cher 😉
Giggling all the way!


Malcolm sharing his Holiday Thoughts!!

Happy Holidays to ALL!!