June 2016 - The Gallop: We’re All Ambassadors
Written by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 07:35
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Be ready to recommend a good entry point to the sport.

by Kim F. Miller

It’s happened to all of us. We’re out and about in the “regular” world in our boots and breeches: the grocery store, the gas station, wherever. By our attire or perhaps our “eau d’equine,” a member of the general public realizes that we are horse people and asks advice on where they or their horse-crazy kid can take lessons or even just watch equestrian activity.

The Pony Club Pipeline: Bridges Equestrian Pony Club Riding Center members pose with their medals from the 2016 USPC So Cal Region Quiz Rally hosted by Bridges Equestrian Pony Riding Center at O’Neill Park in Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon. From left to right: Emma K. (D3), Emily S. (D2), Meranda F. (D2), Mialuna H. (D2), Alexis P. (D2), Ellie B. (D2), Holly F. (D3), Peyton D. (D1), Thea L. (D2), Danielle A. (D2), Kayla H. (D2), Claire J. (D2), Maddy C. (C1), Paige J. (D2). Based in San Juan Capistrano, Bridges Equestrian was an early adopter of USPC’s Riding Centers. It’s a big help in attracting new riders and giving them a solid horsemanship foundation, says Ruthanna Bridges.

These everyday encounters are big opportunities.

With hunter/jumper industry growth stalled at one percent for several years and, in a bigger picture sense, the crazy quantity of things kids and adults can do with their free time and money, horse sport needs all the help it can get.

All of us can and should be ambassadors. Be prepared to answer these potential participants’ questions as helpfully as possible. Hopefully the facility where you keep your horse has a good quality entry level-riding program. If not, ask around or, better yet, go visit some in your area so you can make a confident recommendation.

Familiarize yourself with programs that cater to new riders at various price points: some may have lots to offer the person who will likely never afford their own horse, while others may be tailored toward families likely to funnel into A circuit competition. Do the horses look well cared for and is everybody on a horse, including instructors, wearing a helmet?

Be aware of what competitions are going on in your region. Venues including Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, Galway Downs and the Sonoma Horse Park are among many that go to great effort and expense to make their shows a fun family outing, often with kids activities, room to run around and picnic in between the action.

As editor of this magazine, I’m a repository for an often-overwhelming quantity of information about what’s going on in the California horse world. I love it when strangers ask me about it and am probably guilty of making too many suggestions in my excitement. Most recently, I had a heartbroken elderly man ask about “horse therapy” for his granddaughter, who’d just been diagnosed with a severe health issue. I was so grateful to know about the

Hansen Dam Riding School manager Lydia Doherty looks on as student, Isaac, enjoys learning to ride.

Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, one of many transformational programs in our region. I gave him their website address and full endorsement with confidence.

Bottom line, it’s fun and gratifying to share our love of horses with others and it’s great for the sport. USET chef d’equipe Robert Ridland often talks about our sport as a pyramid. Even though we focus so much attention on the very top—Olympic—levels, that wouldn’t exist without healthy participation at the entry level. The bigger, stronger the base, the better the top.

So be an ambassador. Go out there with your enthusiasm on your sleeve and a little preparation in your pocket!

Toward that end, here is a sampling of Riding Schools/Academies we can recommend. It’s by no means a comprehensive list, but we hope it will trigger you to be ready with your own recommendations as you are out and about.

A more complete list of Riding Schools can be found online at www.cahorse.com, click on “Listings” and “Riding Schools.”

Los Angeles Area

  • Elvenstar, Moorpark
  • Enterprise Farm, Los Angeles
  • Foxfield, Westlake Village
  • Hansen Dam Riding School, Sylmar
  • Mark Watring Stables, Hidden Valley
  • Traditional Equitation School, Burbank

Orange County

  • Bridges Equestrian Horsemanship & Training Center, San Juan Capistrano
  • Elvenstar OC, Huntington Beach
  • Horse Play Rentals, Huntington Beach
  • Mickey Hayden Show Jumping & Riding School, Laguna Hills
  • Newport Mesa Riding Center, Costa Mesa
  • Peacock Hill Riding School, Orange

Inland Empire

  • Showcase Training Stables, Redlands
  • Stacey Turner Training Stable & Riding School, Norco

Central Coast

  • Dubost Equestrian, Templeton

San Diego Area

  • Blue Fox Farm / DVG Show Stable, Escondido
  • Concord Equestrian Center, Del Mar
  • Hidden Fox Farm, El Cajon
  • Horsebound, San Diego
  • San Diego Riding Academy, Lakeside
  • Sweetwater Farms, Bonita


  • California Riding Academy, Menlo Park
  • Monte Vista Christian School Show Team, Watsonville
  • The Riding Academy, Salinas
  • Strides Riding Academy, Petaluma

US Pony Club Riding Centers

The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 949-644-2165.