0 comments / Posted by Ann Wilt


We recently looked at a roster of our lesson horses from way back in 2009, and we realized how fortunate we’ve been to work with such kind and memorable steeds. Many of them are no longer with us, but a few of the gems are still here and contributing to the future of the industry.

We’ve been reflecting about what makes these horses so special.


Lesson horses must like people, especially small ones.

Most of our new riders are between the ages of 4 and 12, so beginner horses will be spending a lot of time with wee ones. Gentle bits help these kind souls teach kids to steer and post while maintaining their metronome trot. In the stall, these people-loving souls enjoy small children brushing the parts they can reach, allow their small riders to tack them, and enjoy hugs. Lots of them.


These horses must be resilient.

In addition to beginner lessons, they’ll also be the first bareback horses for many of our riders. They’ll put their tiny trots to use teaching riders to stay in the middle as they build strength and confidence. They’ll carry little people and adults if they’re big enough.

Sometimes, they even get to play games with experienced riders, and are asked to do things out of their daily routine, like dress up as a clown for Halloween!



These horses must be kind and friendly.

These grand souls are usually a rider's introduction to Knollwood, and possibly to horses. Beginner horses must enjoy meeting new people and working with helpers right at their side.



These horses must be honest.

Beginner horses are incredibly predictable. While not perfect, we’re pretty sure what our lesson stars will do in most situations. Their focus frees them of original thought while working at their job.





What’s Important In An Academy Horse?

Our academy horses take our riders to competitions around the Midwest where they compete against riders from other professionally run lesson programs. These wonderful horses are Saddlebreds and Morgans, and LOVE their travel schedules.

Academy horses must be confident.

While teaching riders how to show, these horses must know the ropes. We have several entry level academy stars who can pretty much do a class on their own if a nervous rider forgets some skills. These boys have been there, done that, and enjoy every step at the show.



Academy horses must know their patterns.

Championship and pattern classes at shows require individual work, so the academy stars must be pros at circles, half circles, and straight lines. Most of our academy horses are pretty darn smart, and actualy enjoy the challenge of patterns as much as the riders do.



Academy horses must be great listeners.

Sometimes, show rings get loud. Really loud.

Our academy horses have to stay focused on their rider, no matter what’s going on in the ring, or what the noise level might be. Academy horses offer challenges. As riders advance their skills, we have the horse to meet them, and challenge them. Scott and Carol even have a separate set of lesson horses for riders who have advanced to riding with them, These horses have show horse minds, and will always challenge the strong, experienced, well taught rider.




What’s Not Important in A Lesson Horse?

Physical beauty 

Let’s face it, while we have some horses who could win a modeling contest, we also have some who are quite plain, and a couple who are almost funny looking. We’re looking for kind, patient solid horse citizens in whatever package that brain comes in.



While some of our horses are equine geniuses, some of our horses have a hard time remembering what day it is, or that there are doors in the arena in the same place as yesterday. They don’t all have to make eye contact with the instructor before giving a rider the wrong lead like Klem does, they just have to be safe and kind.



A Specific Breed 

Yes, our academy level and above horses are all registered American Saddlebreds or Morgans. However, the roster of our tried and true beginner horses reads like a roster of horse breeds. Jelly and Bilbo are Hafflingers, Fred is a quarter horse, Pony Frank is a mixture of all the good ponies in the world, Pumpkin is half Morgan and half Connemara Pony, and Honey Bee is a Hackney Pony. Duke, Hugo, and Vaughn are saddlebreds, and many of the boys are mixes of various breeds. They’re all great characters who teach many people to enjoy horses.



Over the years, we’ve loved many, many great lesson horses. While you may not have ever met Indy, Brinkley, Dudley, Louie, Tony, Trigger or Zeus, they were all grand, and taught skills to many riders showing today.

We’re grateful for all the Knollwood lesson horses who have worked with us. They’ve all shared the same qualities that make our current roster so great.

Next time you’re at the barn, hug a lesson horse or two!




What’s Coming Up?

Join us for the Knockout Holiday party and election.

This Saturday at 6:00 PM

Be sure to RSVP in the school barn lounge by Thursday!

And wear lots of layers for the scavenger hunt which goes ALL OVER the farm!



Holiday Off Days

We won't be teaching on December 24, 25, 31, or January 1.

These holiday lessons will be credited to your account.




The Sale!

Through December 31.

All purchases at Knollwood are 10% off through December 31 when you use promo code 'Holiday2023.'

Current customers will have their purchases applied directly to their account, and new friends can apply theirs to an entry to our program.

Please contact your instructor or an office admin if you'd like some assistance with your purchase.



School Horse of the Year Election

Through December 31

Remember to renew your Knockout dues for 2023 to receive a ballot for the big election. The winner will be announced at the banquet on February 18.


Academy Demos and Meeting

February 11

Join us in the arena at 6:00 PM for demos from our academy stars, and more information about the upcoming season. All riders showing for the first time this season should attend.



Knollwood Knockouts Banquet

February 18

 Saturday, February 18

Join us for social hour at 6:30 PM at The Legend at Merrill Hills. Dinner is at 7:30 PM, and then we’ll have awards, speeches, a slide show, and dancing. Invitations will me mailed to all Knockout members early in 2023. Not yet a member? Please talk to your instructor or office admin to join the fun.





IASPHA Spring Show

April 15-16

Beyond Stable Farm, Woodstock, IL

The first show of the 2023 season!!





See you soon at the barn!!!


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