As you pull into the gravel parking lot, you quickly learn this is a place that LOVES animals. They are everywhere and every one we met was incredibly friendly. Word to the wise, if you start throwing the ball for the black lab you may never be allowed to leave.
Our private family lesson was terrific. Michelle was our instructor. While I’m sure all the instructors are terrific, Michelle is mature beyond her years and an outstanding teacher for the little kids. Once helmets were sorted out (our youngest son selected the pink & purple Barbie bike helmet, too cute) we headed into the barn.
The place was crawling with kids and horses; it was busy but very organized. It was clear everyone knew and followed the rules of the barn; there was incredible respect shown for the more than 50 horses on site.
Once we were inside the barn our 2 & 4 year old boys were introduced to their horses: Cookie (shetland miniature horse) and Sunshine (a standard sized mare). While our little guy didn’t ever warm to actually riding on the horse he did concede to sit on Cookie and he liked to pet him. Our eldest, who used to shy away from horses, had a blast! He took one pass around the ring on Cookie and then decided Sunshine looked manageable.
I lost count how many trips around they made. My husband and I took turns leading Sunshine (not only do the kids learn how to sit atop a horse, the parents get a lesson in leading). As our eldest’s comfort level increased, Michelle added in new components: changing directions, weaving around pylons, and “jumping” over a wooden log (“jumping” aka stepping over).
After a generous 30 minutes on the horses, we took them back to the barn. It was then time to learn a bit about grooming. Sunshine was returned to her stall and Cookie got to experience our sons brushing a horse for the first time. He had two spots very well brushed and not much else. At the end of the lesson treats were given to Cookie and we said our goodbyes.
A & T Equestrian were excellent hosts for our first horseback riding lesson. I am definitely looking into their Parent & Tot classes. They are also offering camps during Spring Break for the 8+ year crowd. And for an extra special treat, check out the birthday parties they host.