Students who find their way to Sue Kellogg’s SK Stables get a lot more than a riding lesson. “It’s all about what’s in the best interest of the horse,” says Sue, a lifelong horsewoman who operates her horsemanship-oriented training barn on her own 40-acre facility in the Redding area’s Orland.
With a clientele of consistent and committed students, Sue loves to start young or old aspiring horsemen “from the ground up.” Lessons often begin not at the mounting block, but out in one of SK’s turn-out pastures. “We work on basic horsemanship, starting with how you catch a horse in the field,” Sue explains. “How to approach them, halter them, lead them.”
Understanding how horses think is the common denominator in every phase of her students’ instruction. Having “never spent a day without horses,” 52-year-old Sue has found that this horsemanship-intense approach lays a foundation for horse/human interactions that are both safe and rewarding. Ribbons are great, says Sue, who has brought her students to plenty of success on the local show circuit, but “learning to understand and be a good partner with your horse” is the real reward.
One of Sue’s favorite success stories is a now 13-year-old rider who came to Sue as a 7-year-old. The young girl began riding SK’s lessons horses then progressed to a modestly-priced pony who had a few of what Sue describes as “human-created” issues. “I know that challenged her a bit, but she went on to show the pony successfully and the pony is now being used to help the rest of the kids and grown-ups move up a level in their riding.”
For the last three years, this special student has cared for the foal, imprinting the youngster and seeing it through the weaning process and onto starting it under saddle and riding it.
New riders usually start in a western saddle, on a lunge line. Sue emphasizes the rhythm and balance of each gait and requires students to master the sitting and posting trot, as well as maintain a two-point position for seven strides, before they are cleared to lope.
“It takes three times longer to undo things than it does to do them right the first time,” says Sue of her core philosophy in teaching students on the ground or in the saddle. Influenced heavily by her father, whose horsemanship came from the German dressage school, Sue asserts that, “95 percent of people’s problems with their horses are their problems, having to do with body position, attitude and feel for the horse.”
A Student To Horses
Sue considers horses to be the best teachers and she has “studied” with many over the years. As a kid, she showed extensively in Open, American Quarter Horse Assn. and breed shows. Her family had their own arena, where team roping, ranch work and junior rodeos were regular events throughout her youth.
As an adult, Sue is active in the industry. She organized the California State Horsemen’s Assn.’s Trail Trials program for a few years, including the staging of its annual Show Of Champions.
Quarter Horses are the dominant breed at Sue’s stable, but she is open to working with any kind of horse. A Thoroughbred/Warmblood cross mare and several ponies are part of the mix of her own horses and those owned by students. A few of Sue’s horses and ponies are available for sale.
SK Stables is a private facility. The 40-acre property features an 80’ by 150’ covered arena and the barn has 12 stalls with runs off each. Plenty of turn-out pens and big pastures enable every horse time outdoors and in a herd environment that Sue considers essential to their well-being. Even though some of her equine charges are best suited for individual pens, all the horses are within sight of each other.
Most of Sue’s students have found their way to SK Stables by word of mouth. She has taught horsemanship and riding throughout her adult life, and started the current incarnation of SK Stables six years ago. Kids camps were a staple of her first years in business and, although she no longer offers them, they helped her establish a great name in the area. The happiness and success of her current students and horses is furthering that best-of-all marketing tools: a great reputation.
For more information on SK Stables, call 530-865-4370.