FAQs: The Top Questions from New Riders
Team Knollwood is thrilled to have welcomed many new riders and families to the barn over the last few months. We're so glad you've joined us!
We know horses are new to many of you, so we thought we'd answer some of the most asked questions from our new friends here.
We'll be putting a question box in the lounge as well, so you can drop any queries for the humans, horses, cats or dogs of Knollwood. We promise to answer all of them in upcoming blog posts!
Why are some of the lesson horses so slow?
Slow moving horses build confidence for the newest rider. Our perfect beginner horses react slowly to cues and give the rider time to adjust to what is happening. These horses are worth their weight in gold and then some as they slowly, kindly, and patiently teach new riders.
Once a rider has learned the basics of starting, stopping, steering, and trotting on our unicorns, they’re ready to move on to the next level of horses, those who teach ‘follow through.’
Why are some of the horses so hard to keep going?
These marvelous lesson horses teach newish riders the importance of providing information to their horse. All.The.Time.
Horses are living, breathing creatures, unlike the keyboards many kids are accustomed to spending time with elsewhere. Because there’s no ‘enter button,’ the rider must keep the communication flowing to the horse so he knows what’s needed.
When the information halts, often, so does the horse.
These horses also teach the importance of following through on directions. A gentle suggestion may not always work, so riders have to in increase the strength of their direction. They learn the progression of direction, and respect for the horse in the process.
By learning how the horse’s mind and body work together, a rider also learns more about themselves.
Why are all the lesson horses geldings?
Consistency. Geldings are the same every day, and the drama level in our group of ‘grand geldings’ is amazingly low. If we introduce a mare to the group, all the fellows want to claim her as their girlfriend, and things can get a little too unpredictable for our liking.
Do the horses go outside in the winter?
Imagine a class of 15 year old boys who have been locked up inside and are expected to behave like polite, rational beings. There you have it.
Horses are built to be outside, and need the free play time to stay mentally well. When the temps fall below zero, all of our horses will wear winter coats outside.
While our horses who live in the back of the barn go out every night, our box stall horses enjoy daytime recess.
Who are the ‘Red Box Stall Horses,’ and who gets to ride them?
Horses living in the red box stalls are very special. They’re our academy horses who travel to shows with us and compete in the academy division. They’re mostly registered American Saddlebreds, and we’re also fortunate to have 2 registered Morgan Horses.
These horses also love their jobs, and love going to shows. They’re all well versed in the show world, and are experts at teaching our advancing riders patterns. Some of these boys also participate in our summer invitational camps offered for our academy show riders.
These horses are more responsive than our beginner horses, and are faster and stronger. Our academy horses let our riders continue their education on a broad assortment of characters. From our entry level show horses like Dexter to our horses who also show on the ‘B’ circuit like Panic, these horses can take a rider wherever they’d like to go, all the way to the show horse world.
Because these horses are not for riders starting out, they’re reserved for riders showing at the academy level, or for those preparing to do so in the upcoming season.
If you think you might be interested in pursuing academy showing, please talk to your instructor!
What’s the benefit to riding bareback?
Strength. Riding bareback helps a rider gain core and leg strength while developing a great feel for what’s going on underneath them. When riding bareback becomes too easy, riders graduate to riding in a saddle without their stirrups.
Why does my rider have to ride a horse he or she doesn’t like?
We’re fortunate to have around 25 lesson horses, from the most patient beginner teacher to the show barn lesson horses who test a rider’s skills.
We refer to our collection of horses as ‘the library.’ Each horse has a unique lesson to teach, and skills to master.
When a rider has a lesson to learn, they frequently get frustrated and think that they don’t like the horse that is being used to teach the skill. If a rider only rode the horses they found easy, they wouldn’t progress in their skills.
Usually, after the new skill is mastered, that horse that a rider ‘didn’t like’ becomes a favorite for being such a patient teacher.
When do riders learn to canter?
Because we want cantering to be a pleasure and not a scary experience, we wait until a rider is comfortable with a series of trotting skills. Mastering the sitting trot, dropping stirrups and picking them up while trotting, trotting without stirrups, and bareback work prepare our riders for a safe, fun experience.
There’s no timeline to when these goals are achieved, as everyone is on their own schedule. Riding as often as you can does, however, speed up the learning.
We have a special group of horses that excel at teaching riders of all ages and sizes how to canter. We are fortunate to have Hooper, Leon, and Picasso in our faculty list.
What breeds are the lesson horses?
Let’s face it, the back of the school barn looks like the United Nations of horses.
We have Quarter Horses, Saddlebreds, Morgans, a Pony of unknown origin, a Hafflinger, and the one thing they all have in common is great brains.
We purchase lesson horses for their minds, and we don’t mean their intelligence. We have some pretty simple lesson horses who have beautiful minds.
These horses are kind, forgiving, adaptable to different riders, and patient all day long.
They may not all be beautiful on the outside, but they are on the inside.
What do the retired lesson horses do?
Horses who have worked in our lesson program have a wonderful retirement plan. Currently, Brinkley and Sundance are enjoying their retirement benefits. They stay at Knollwood to live out their days with their friends.
While they no longer give lessons, the retirees hang with their friends enjoying the cuisine and care they’ve grown used to, enjoy daily turnouts, lots of attention from Knollwood Kids, and are used at camps for classroom activities.
Who are 'The Helpers?'
Helpers are Knollwood Kids who have shown responsibility and a good work ethic. Riders who exhibit these traits and who have advanced in their riding skills are invited to be a helper on a trial basis.
Helpers come for a day each week and help prep horses for lessons, take care of them after lessons for the younger kids, perform barn chores, give spa treatments to the retired horses, and act as personal assistants to beginner riders. Helpers must be friendly, kind, patient, and responsible.
If you’re a new rider looking forward to being a helper some day, taking good care of your horse is a great way to start. Summer riding school will teach a lot about horse care, and helping the helpers when you’re at the barn is another great way to learn.
Knollwood Helpers are the best of the Knollwood Kids, and being a member of the group is an achievement in itself.
What’s coming up?
Saturday, February 6
Deadline for delivery of sale items for our used academy clothing sale the following weekend.
Saturday, February 13
11 AM – 2 PM
Team Knollwood used academy clothing sale
Saturday, February 20
Patchwork Pony Road Show
Comfort Suites Johnson Creek Conference Center
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Knollwood’s stylist and mom of 2018 Triple Crown Winner Haley will be there from 8:30 to 10:30 to help with your selections. Please let Ann know if you’d like her to meet you there!
Saturday, February 27
Knollwood’s Virtual Award Banquet
Live from the arena
Join us as we celebrate our 2020 adventures, and recognize high point award winners.
We have some brilliant ideas to make the virtual experience one to remember, including party boxes to make you feel like you're there. Check out details in the school barn lounge.
Stay tuned, we're still coming up with creative ideas to make the evening feel like everyone is together. Got an idea? Talk to a Knockout officer or board member!
Saturday, March 6
Academy Kick Off Meeting
7:00 PM in the arena
We’ll go over the finalized academy schedule for 2021, and offer info about the process.
Join us to see demos from some accomplished academy riders, and to ask questions of the riders and their parents.
And, you can set up your personalized meeting with your instructor, too!