California Riding Magazine • March, 2008

Loomis Basin Equestrian Center
A comprehensive training program for beginners to national and world champions.

by Kathleen Burke Jensen

Loomis Basin Equestrian Center is an Arabian and Morgan lesson, training and sales barn owned and operated by Edie Lehman and Shirley Koch. Located in the small town of Loomis just north of Sacramento, they specialize in finding the right horse for the right rider.

The horses trained at Loomis Basin Equestrian Center compete up through national and world competition in the Arabian and Morgan breed shows as well as open competition. In addition to breeding their own stock and standing one Morgan and two Arabian stallions, Edie and Shirley train and show client horses as well as market horses for sale. Their main focus, however, is connecting a rider with the right mount.

Lookin for Trouble, ridden by Edie Lehman.
A change of pace - the lesson horse runs the colors at the horse show.

The lesson program has a number of outstanding features. Students are encouraged to come early or stay late and learn about grooming, tacking and untacking horses, as well as general ground handling techniques. This part is optional and those with a busy schedule simply come and ride and leave.

“We have something for everyone in our lesson program,” says Shirley. “From absolute beginners to international competitors.” And the ages of their lesson clients range just as far; from 5 to 85 years of age. Shirley is critical of what she calls the “platoon” approach to group lessons, where the instructor hollers “OK, everybody trot.” Horses are herd animals and very quick to learn routines. Soon lesson horses are trotting because they listened to the instructor or because the other horses are trotting.

Justina (one of the lesson horses) winning her national championship.

The Loomis Basin Equestrian Center approach is to work with an individual within a group situation. One rider may be walking, another trotting or cantering, while a third rider works on a trail obstacle in the center of the arena. This forces riders to demonstrate control of their mount, not just follow the leader. It also prepares riders to deal with the challenges they will face when confronted with situations either in the show ring or trail riding.

The equestrian center has a large, lighted, covered arena so life goes on regardless of weather and, with more than 30 horses on the property, there is always a lot of activity. “We have some super lesson horses and most of them are semi-retired show horses,” Shirley explains. Two are national champions, several are regional champions and the others are class A champions.

Each fall Loomis Basin Equestrian Center has a fun show that is “one of the most rewarding things we do,” according to Shirley. “It is for our lesson kids and we use the lesson horses. We have a class list and judges and ribbons.” Kids who are already showing come and help coach the “newbies” and then judge the classes. The lesson kids get excited about being in competition and winning a ribbon and it also teaches them about preparing a horse for a show. The entry fee is special; each participant has to donate time and labor during the event. Parents are welcome to come, but the kids have to work and pay their own way. “The excitement is infectious and the smiles and laughter are incredible,” says Shirley.

Covered arena.

Testing The Waters

One thing that sets Loomis Basin Equestrian Center apart is their lease program. Many students after a period of time decide that they want to buy a horse, but the family may not be ready to make the financial commitment or may not be convinced that the child is seriously dedicated. Leasing offers a test of student commitment without long-term financial commitment. Students can lease a lesson horse on a month-to-month basis, offering most of the advantages of horse ownership at a fraction of the cost and giving the student and family a trial period to decide if this is the direction they want to go. For those who decide it is “just a phase,” it is easy to cancel the lease at the end of the month.

One of the happy kids at the fun show.

Lesson horses occasionally go back into showing when a client is ready to take that step. For example, as Shirley describes, “This season one of our families leased a lesson horse and won a basketful of ribbons both in local open shows and class A Arabian shows. The older sister (Sophie Moss) and the younger sister (Katrina Moss) both rode Hunter and Western Pleasure, plus Sophie competed in Dressage.”

Shirley is quick to point out that not only are their clients going to shows, they’re winning, too. “Having fun is not an excuse for not winning,” she says with a chuckle. They don’t push people beyond their comfort zones, but on the other hand it is a competition and “they ought to go try to be competitive.”

Carson Adams riding Diamonds and Lace.

For students who want to take the next step and become horse owners, there is an active marketing program and Edie and Shirley take pride in finding the right horse for the rider. One of their favorite success stories is 10 and under rider, Carson Adams. Her family bought an Arabian mare through the marketing program and Carson showed successfully in local competition. Then the family decided to breed that mare and they now have a gorgeous filly sired by Brumarba Ibn Shai. While the first mare was pregnant they bought a second Arabian and Carson is now showing successfully in class A competition: Halter, Sport Horse In-Hand, Hunter and Western Pleasure, Dressage and Trail.

Edie Lehman is a carded judge and she’s judged many high profile shows including the Arabian US Nationals and most recently the Canadian Nationals this summer. Edie trains and competes regularly in addition to a very active lesson schedule.

Learning to groom.

Shirley has been in horses for years. “I have more than 4,000 miles of competition in distance riding (competitive trail and endurance),” she says. Nowadays she trains and competes in shows and handles the business side of Loomis Basin Equestrian Center as well as teaching some of the lessons.

Previously Edie Lehman Training Stables, they bought the current location in 1988 and changed the name to Loomis Basin Equestrian Center in 2006.

Loomis Basin Equestrian Center is best known for developing champion trail horses but they like to have their horses and clients do a bit of everything. Their philosophy is to keep the training fun and keep the horses fresh. They’ve always been big on cross-training. And while they show a lot of in-hand horses, they’re all performance horses, too. They may be training a horse for pleasure classes but they take it out on the trail to keep it fresh and interested in the training process.

For more information on Loomis Basin Equestrian Center please contact Shirley Koch or Edie Lehman at 916-652-6842 or or