I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. I finally convinced my parents to let me take lessons when I was 8 and to purchase a horse of my own 3 years later. Unfortunately, when I left home to attend college, I could not afford to bring my horse and board her in the Bay Area and was forced to sell her - it was devastating. I tried riding at a few different places over the years, but it never felt quite right… It wasn’t just the riding I missed, I missed having the connection I had experienced growing up around and owning my own horse. After moving to Martinez, I decided it was time to revisit my dream, found the Horse and Rider Connection website and scheduled my first lesson shortly thereafter. Initially I was impressed by the caliber of horses and organized and professional manner in which the business ran. Over the last 5 years, I have learned a lot and gotten to ride and lease some very special horses and have come to appreciate and respect so much more than that. The instructors encourage and push their riders to challenge themselves and grow to become their best, bravest selves. The program cultivates mentorships between horses and riders and it is extraordinary to watch the students grow and excel not just in their horsemanship, but in their lives. I have had the opportunity to go horse camping, compete in gymkhana and show both western pleasure and dressage. I have gotten to watch the sun set and enjoy the cool bay breezes on the open trails behind the barn and spent rainy mornings schooling horses in the covered arenas. It is not just a barn, it is a family. I have rediscovered my connection with both horses and horse people and feel truly lucky to have found Horse and Rider Connection and had the opportunity to be a part of the program.
I have been a client on and off for 8 years at Horse and Rider Connection. My experience has been incredible. Horse and rider safety come first. I have worked with three different trainers and have found them each competent and incredible to work with. I respect the high standards of professionalism and the drama free zone that is maintained as a norm. There is a community of people that care and are there to support and help make the experience at 10+. Additionally all aspects of horsemanship are included, from care to maintenance - the full spectrum is part of the experience. I would recommend anyone of any age, confident that there is a perfect horse and trainer for them within this community.
At age 50, after having been involved with horses most of my life, I was in the market for another horse. I have always considered myself a horsewoman and an experienced rider. It had been two years since my confidence had been really shaken by a horse that I loved and worked with, but realized that we were not a good match for each other. I felt like a failure around horses. For the first time in my life, I felt fear in the realization of the kind of damage a horse can inflict upon a human, and while I have always known what a horse is capable of, the fear was something I had never felt before. Regardless of that, my love of horses and riding would not subside, and in my search for a place to keep a horse, I found Horse and Rider Connection. In researching the availability of stall space, one of the first things that was asked was where I currently kept my horse. When I explained that I was in the market for a horse, but looking for a barn first, they suggested I consider sponsorship. We scheduled a day to ride together, and it was all downhill from there (in a good way!). I have ridden several of the program's horses, which has done wonders for my confidence, and I sponsored Titan since he came to Franklin Canyon about a year ago. To me, Kim has been a teacher, a mentor, a cowgirl, and most of all, a cherished friend. The relationships I have developed with folks at the barn remind me of those I had with people at my first barn, more than 30 years ago. The kids and parents in the Horse and Rider Connection program are all a pleasure to be around. We have enjoyed many rides together, including camping at Olema where we had a wonderful time. I look forward to many more rides, camp trips and fun times. I owe this to Kim, who took the time to foster the confidence of an "old horsewoman" who was not ready to hang up her spurs.
As an adult woman, I decided that it was time to stop putting off my life-long dream of riding and spending time with horses. I looked for a stable where I would be encouraged, trained, and challenged in this pursuit. Horse and Rider Connection has provided everything I’ve needed to accomplish my goals. The trainers matched me with a gentle horse at the beginning, and have moved me on to more challenging horses as my ability and confidence has grown. They are thorough and teach everything from approaching a horse to proper haltering, leading, grooming, washing and checking the horse, to personal safety when mounting, dismounting, riding around other horses, stable etiquette and horse safety, and many other valuable skills and knowledge in addition to riding skills. I had a riding vacation to Ireland planned, and needed to be an intermediate rider within a few months to qualify for the trip. Horse and Rider Connection helped me focus and prepare. We switched to English tack and practiced all gaits in the arena, then got out on the trail and did a lot more trotting and cantering, working on my balance, posture, verbal, leg and rein cues. I just returned from the Ireland trip, where I was able to comfortably and confidently walk, trot and canter an unfamiliar horse with the rest of my group, and even gallop the horse on the beaches at Omey Island, Galway, thanks to the preparations that Horse and Rider Connection provided. Our Irish host taught us a dressage routine to music, and I had enough skill to control my horse at a slow walk, energetic walk, slow jog, working trot and canter, thanks to just a few months riding at Franklin Canyon Stables. Returning from that trip, we switched back to Western and with encouragement I rode in my first Gymkhana event. It was terrific fun and excitement and I was able to take it at my own speed. It’s so exciting to set goals and have an instructor that gets behind me, helps me focus, and encourages me to try new things. I would recommend Horse and Rider Connection to anyone who is serious about horses and riding. If you make the effort, they will more than have your back. I look forward all week to my Sunday lesson and the time spent at the barn, with the mature, responsible young people, and the great horses I get to ride there.
In late September 2013 my mom scheduled my first lesson with Horse and Rider Connection. She brought me kicking and screaming. Once I stepped foot on the property I fell in love right then. I always had a love affair with animals, but horses are now my main love. In less than one year, the program turned me into a talented rider. I currently lease my pony Blu. He teaches me and I teach him. Every time I'm at the barn rain or shine the people there always put a smile on my face.