0 comments / Posted by Ann Wilt



At this time of the year, our thoughts often turn to what we’re grateful for in the previous year.  We think everyone at Knollwood can agree that we are fortunate to have an unbelievable crew of helpers who make the lesson program run at a level of excellence that it could never do without these cheerful souls.


Helpers are one of the first Knollwood contacts made by riders new to our program.  At their initial lesson, new customers are assisted in helmet fitting and leading a horse to the arena.  Throughout the first couple of lessons, riders will be assisted by a select group of riders chosen for this extra responsibility.


Helpers serve as role models to students in our lesson program.  They are friendly, helpful, and hard working, even when it’s really hot, really cold, raining like it’s monsoon season in Wisconsin, or the pasture is three feet deep in snow. You won’t find them staring at the chart, or playing with their phones. (If you do see this, please let an instructor know!)


Helping is a privilege, not a right.  These riders have earned the respect of their fellow riders and their instructors by setting a good example with their conduct, their work ethic, their love of horses, and their people skills. Many of our show barn riders remain as helpers in the lesson program long after their academy careers have concluded. Our goal oriented, experienced show riders serve as terrific mentors to our younger riders coming up.



Helpers spend their days filling tanks, watering horses, tacking horses, untacking horses, grooming horses, putting horses up, helping in lessons, or training the next batch of younger helpers.

While performing all these tasks, our helpers are learning some very important lessons. Perhaps most importantly, they learn how to prioritize. At Knollwood, we live by the saying, ‘Horses first, the rest later.’ This means that horse care comes first, and that cleaning, throwing hay, rolling up leg wraps, or putting tack away must wait until after horses are cared for, especially when they’re hot after a lesson.



Helpers learn a lot about horse care while they’re working.  They spend hours grooming and tacking, so they get to know our horses as unique personalities.  Helpers soon learn that Willy likes to trot out of his night time box stall to get to the food in his slip stall, and that Forest is a master of escaping from his stall without getting the back chain down. Fred doesn’t like his girth too tight, and Sparky loves being rubbed with towels just out of the dryer when it’s really cold. And Klem?  He thinks he's never has enough to eat, and isn't bashful about letting everyone know.

Our experienced helpers continue to learn as they teach the younger helpers how things are done safely.  If you really want to learn something well, try teaching it to enthusiastic young horse lovers who want to do everything at once.

Our helpers offer a unique perspective to our riders.  They’re close in age to our riders, and can offer extra encouragement and their own recent experiences with our lessons and programs.  It means a lot when a helper tells a young rider struggling with diagonals that they had the same problem when they were younger, and that they figured it out.


Helpers are fabulous even when we travel to horse shows.  These experienced riders encourage our newer show riders, and can offer examples from their own recent history to encourage the younger riders coming up through the ranks.  


Our helpers develop great people skills.  These special riders interact with kids of many ages, and often chat with parents as well.  They learn to communicate in different styles with different ages and abilities, and in different situations.  Birthday parties are very different than regular structured group lessons, and taking the time to train new helpers is very different than doing chores yourself.


Helpers learn to have fun and still keep working.  The chatter in the barn is really entertaining as the helpers talk about school, sports activities, horse shows, and their families.  Many helpers stay on the same night for many, many years, so deep friendships are formed over time.  It’s great to have barn friends that share a love of horses but don’t go to the same school.


Helpers are willing to go above and beyond.  They commit to coming on a particular day of the week each and every week.  Of course, school always comes first and our helpers are great students.  Many of our helpers have received college scholarships from local and national saddlebred associations partially as a result in their involvement in the sport.  This past summer,  the American Saddlebred Association of Wisconsin awarded scholarships to Sarah who is now studying  at Canisius University in Buffalo, and to Jess who is studying at University of Wisconsin.



In addition to their weekly shift, helpers also work camps in the summer.  Some of our most experienced helpers even serve as camp counselors, and work with our rising show ring stars at pattern camps.


 Our helpers also have a charitable streak.  For the last six years, helpers have hosted a 'friendly' competition to collect food and funds for the Food Pantry of Waukesha County.  Each year, they've collected more than 1000 pounds of food while having fun competing against each other in 'Olympic' events.



 We'd like to offer heartfelt thanks to the helpers who make Knollwood the welcoming place it is for so many. Our school horses are shiny and happy partially because of the care they receive from the helpers. 

Thanks, too, to the parents of these great kids who promote hard work, responsibility, and kindness in all things.  We say that good horses come from good parents, and kids are certainly the same.

If you're a young rider and would like to be a helper some day, the path is steep. 

Take great care of your horse before and after your ride, take care of your equipment, make sure your horse's blankets are up front in the warm tackroom during your lesson,  pick up manure or sweep the lounge when it needs attention, offer to help a younger rider with their horse, or offer words of encouragement to a young rider.  You can always ask your instructor or an older helper what you could do to help, too! 


What's Coming Up?


Gift certificates are 10% off through January 1.  We'd love to help you design a plan for whatever you'd like to do next year.  You can purchase lessons, camps. even horse shows, all at 10% off!

Please contact Ann or Nancy at the barn, and we can have your certificates ready and waiting for you.  We're great at keeping secrets, and can hand off envelopes in a very secretive fashion!



Knockouts Holiday Party

Join us at 5:30 pm on Saturday, December 16 for caroling followed by the Knockout party,  We'll meet in the school barn, and please dress warmly, bringing a flashlight, a Santa hat, and your singing voice!  Dudley and Forest will be joining us, too.

We'll return to the farm for a team scavenger hunt, so those warm clothes will come in handy again as teams travel from barns to pastures, and back again.  Following the hunt, Knockout members will enjoy pizza, and then get to the business of electing club officers for the 2018 year.

We'll finish the night with an optional gift exchange.  If you'd like to participate, please bring a wrapped gift valued at $25. Most of our members are girls between the ages of 7 and 13.



The Knockouts' holiday charity project for Puerto Rican hurricane relief continues through the party.  Please place your donations in the blue bin in the show barn lounge.  We'll get the donations on their way next week.



Our annual awards banquet is set for Saturday, February 16 at Bristlecone Pines. 

Our celebration of all things Knollwood is a favorite event of the year. We'll enjoy a tasty buffet dinner, high point awards, recognition of our ASHA academy award winners, a slide show, and Scott's year in review.

All Knockouts will receive an invitation shortly after the first of the year.  If you're not a member and would like to join the fun, we'd love to have you.  You can talk to your instructor, or fill out a membership envelope in the school barn lounge.  Annual dues are only $5 for kids, and only require two hours of club service per year to be considered for high point awards.



See you soon at the barn!

And be sure to thank the next helper you see!



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