2020 has been a most unusual year that has delivered us all a new perspective.
We’ve all been forced to navigate a world turned upside down by the global pandemic. All kids became home schoolers overnight, and all parents became classroom teachers. Restaurants closed, grocery stores became places to pick up supplies, and many people lost jobs, whether temporarily or for good.
Knollwood suddenly went quiet, and overnight, lesson and show horses wondered what happened to their people.
Soon, we all watched while horse shows cancelled. And continued to cancel.
In the blink of an eye, everything can change.
Team Knollwood has spent time reflecting on our traditions and mulling over many new lessons.
We’ve taken new reflections to heart and are putting them into practice or recommitting to them for this upcoming show season.
Horses teach us all kinds of life lessons.
There is no creature better than a horse to teach us all kinds of lessons. At times, even better than parents thrown into that role.
Horses are dependent on us for everything. For their housekeeping, for food and water, for veterinary care, for hoof care, for training, and for companionship.
They get sick. They age and need special care when they can no longer do their job. They go lame. They rely on us for everything.
We do this for the love of them. There’s no better teacher than a horse.
Horses teach us about winning. They teach us about losing, too.
There’s so much more to this horse show life than winning and losing, and your horse will remind you of this all the time. You won’t remember all the ribbons you win, but you’ll remember when you nailed that sticky lead on the workout, or the time you made that perfect pass, or that moment you felt at one with your horse, and everything was right in the world.
Sure, victory passes are wonderful, but our personal accomplishments with these glorious animals are so much more than that moment.
Even when you do everything right, things happen. Horses teach you to keep going.
You can be prepared to take on the world in the championship pattern, and right as you’re asking your horse to step off on a diagonal line, someone will open an umbrella right in front of your horse. Or a deafening thunderclap rocks the arena. Or someone crushes a plastic bottle right behind your horse.
What about the time you got to the show and were told your horse wasn’t feeling well, or was lame?
It’s part of life, which as we all know, isn’t fair. The challenge is how we respond to these setbacks. We at Team Knollwood go on. We simply go on. It’s life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
This upside-down world has taught us all how small most of our ‘problems’ sound.
Didn’t get a ‘fancy academy horse’ for the upcoming show?
You didn’t get a new show outfit for this year?
Bummed about your favorite show cancelling?
It’s all small stuff. With all that’s going on in the world, let’s all take stock in what’s really important and be kind.
Life isn’t predictable and tomorrow isn’t promised.
So, let’s cheer on and support our friends and competitors. Competition can bring out the smallness in people, and our world needs people who are bigger than that. This is a small industry needing people to build each other up, not tear them down.
Real champs boost each other up and congratulate accomplishments.
Tell someone they had a great ride.
Tell someone their show clothes look fabulous.
Tell someone the horse they’re showing is a great match for them.
Tell the parent of a rookie rider that their child looked so happy while riding.
Tell someone that you love watching them ride.
If someone had a challenging ride, tell them that you admire how they worked through it.
Tell someone you’re proud to call them your friend.
Congratulate the newest riders and tell them they look great.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s taught us that Team Knollwood’s strength is its members. From the top down, we live our motto of Tradition Honor Passion.
We treasure the tradition of the sport, practice the honors of sportsmanship and working with horses, and have endless passion for these animals and people we are honored to have in our lives.
Let’s all use this new perspective, find joy in the journey of horse showing by focusing on the good, treasuring those we love, and riding the hair off our wonderful horses we are blessed to share in our lives.
We are #KnollwoodStrong.
We just finished our first full week of lessons after our 10 week closure, and we couldn’t be happier.
(Neither could our lesson horses who missed their students beyond belief.)
We tried to stay in touch through social media, and even resorted to pasture visits that involved blowing bubbles (which terrified some of our largest lesson horses) and fancy carrot cupcakes (which none of the boys would eat.) We interviewed Scott, and kids along the bridle path, too.
We're sure that our horses would agree with us when we say that even though those events passed were entertaining, nothing compares to having customers back with the horses
Our experienced riders who returned for limited private lessons discovered lesson horses who looked and felt terrific after their break. Both riders and horses looked thrilled to be working together again!
It’s also been fun teaching privates for some of our students who previously rode in group situations. We’ve enjoyed getting to know these riders better, and watching them ‘eat up’ all the personal attention that private lessons provide.
Stay tuned in July for an increase in private lessons when we open up for new beginners and some tiny tots.
We need to give a special shout out to our 'super helpers' who have helped us reopen for lessons. These experienced Knollwood Kids have taken on added responsibilities of getting all horses ready and bringing them to lesson riders, sanitizing reins, and doing this all while wearing masks in the barn. We are in awe of the work these riders have been doing while helping us all improve our processes while we work through this different world.
Camps are also starting up in July, and they’re filling up fast!
We DO have some room in our Classic Camp running August 24-28, and have some limited openings in our Tiny Tot camps as well.
Our special Knollwood show prep camp running August 10-14 has some openings for our riders to prepare for our in-barn show on August 22-23. Come enjoy 5 days in the great outdoors while learning all about horse showing and horse care. You’ll make some new horsey friends, and learn new skills to be ready to compete. This camp is NOT listed on our website, as it’s only for our current riders looking to show in house. Please contact your instructor if you’d like to join the fun!
While we’ve had shows cancel this season, we’re hopeful that the ASAW Summer Showcase will go on as planned on August 8-9. We offer a special camp for our riders attending this show to prepare them for their first ever out of barn show.
The camp is held at Knollwood on July 27-30, and at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds on August 7. The riders will make their show ring debut on Sunday, August 9 with all the friends they’ve made at camp.
Ann teaches this camp, along with some wonderful experienced riders who serve as mentors to our new show stars. The cost of the camp is $650, with each camper receiving a $100 discount off their show bill if they attend both the camp and the horse show.
Please talk to Ann if you think your rider might be interested in this wonderful experience. We have a few spots left, and we expect them to go fast!
Our Covid policies have been embraced by everyone, and we thank you for your understanding.
After our first full week, we do have a couple of reminders:
Masks are to be worn in the show barn lounge area for everyone’s protection.
Any time you have to be within 6 feet of another person in the arena, please be sure to have your mask on as well.
We’re all working together to make it through these times, and know that you support the protective measures we have in place to protect our customers and staff. We thank you for your help.
After a week of super helpers doing it all on the days they work, we’ve decided that our certified super helpers can come into the barn and get their own horses ready for their lessons, and take care of them afterwards. These experienced helpers have been trained in all of our Covid policies, and they can now spend some more time with their horses on lesson days. The horses will enjoy it as much as the riders!
We'll keep you posted as events evolve this season. Known for our pivoting abilities both on and off horses, this is looking like an adventurous Knollwood Summer 2020! We're glad you're joining us for the ride!
We love our lesson horses.
Recently, one of our legends experienced some changes in his spine that make it necessary for him to retire from the arena. Sundance, officially known as Bonnie Novel Santoro has joined Brinkley in blissful lesson horse retirement at Knollwood.
We tried to keep him in for a couple of nights, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He told us loud and clear in a way that only a horse can, that he belonged outside with his herd. He’ll continue to live the life of a spoiled lesson horse, just without the lessons.
Born in Iowa on April 24, 1991, the ‘Master of the Pasture’ came to Knollwood as a three-year old and quickly became a mainstay of our lesson program. In addition, he immediately established himself in the pasture as the guy who kept order and was not to be messed with.
With his appointed lieutenants over the years, from Dakota to Skipper to Tony, Sundance has maintained a quiet yet firm control over his herd. He’s not been afraid to send his ‘enforcers’ out after his workers exhibiting poor behavior, however.
He has also presided over the initiation of a giant number of lesson horses in our program. Under his benevolent dictatorship, horses have integrated into the Knollwood herd while always knowing never to mess with Sundance.
As valuable as he is in the pasture, Sundance has been even more important in the arenas and show rings for Knollwood kids of all ages.
Often the first Saddlebred kids ride, Sundance always offered that square trot and smooth canter for which our favorite breed is famous. He sure offered a different experience than our beginner quarter horses and grade starter models.
Sundance taught countless riders to keep their horses head up to avoid the sudden halt or the shy, taught kids to stay ahead of a horse that was always thinking, and how to enjoy a victory pass on a horse that just loved being a horse.
He raised thinking, compassionate riders.
Pictured from top to bottom in the blog are a saddle seat equitation Triple Crown Wnner, a 10 and under academy star who loves horses more than life itself, especially Sundance, a group of kids who have gone on to become champion riders, an Engineering student at the University of Louisville, a World Champion rider who now owns her own business in Lexington, and another world champion rider who is now a student at the University of Wisconsin.
And, oh, he was the perfect bareback horse.
While we will all miss riding him, we’ll take pride and comfort in knowing that he’ll live out his life at the place he’s known since he came in as a green three-year old. And we’ll get to give back to the great horse who taught us so many lessons. He retires as a master professor for generations of riders.
Let the spoiling commence!
Knollwood Families and Students,
The moment we have all been waiting for is finally upon us and we are reopening TOMORROW! Our reopening plan will take place over a series of four phases.
For Phase 1 of our reopening, we will only be offering private lessons. Group lessons have too many people in the arenas, barns, and lounge areas at one time to be deemed safe. Riders permitted back at this time are those who are able to ride independently in a safe manner. This means, no beginner riders, no tiny tot riders that require hands on from our instructors. Safety is and always has been our top priority in introducing people to the amazing animal that is a horse. Now with the added need for safety around distancing, we feel it is best to stick to more experienced riders at this time. Instructors will be reaching out to you to schedule their lessons with you. Your day/time may have changed and we understand that may be frustrating. That is one of the reasons we have extended our private lesson hours to 8:30 pm most days. Saturdays and Sundays will be 5:30pm. This also means that group lesson balances can be converted into credits toward private lessons. If you were a groups only rider, feel free to reach out to your instructor inquiring about private lesson availability!
For Phase 2, we hope to be able to begin offering mini groups for independent riders and small camps for riders that can safely follow our sanitization measures in the barn. This would be the time that riders can come back into the school barn and ready their own horses.
For Phase 3, we hope to be reintroducing beginner riding private lessons and Tiny Tot lessons, on a more limited schedule with assigned helpers for horse delivery, while continuing on with our regular scheduled private lessons.
For Phase 4, we hope to be back to full operating as normal, potentially without masks! Horse shows in the barns and out of barns, summer camps and back to experiencing Knollwood Farm as we had been before the COVID-19 days.
We are striving for Phase 4, but please keep in mind that all of these phases, protocols and schedules are subject to change based on the CDC and State government recommendations.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR PHASE 1
Riders who qualify for Phase 1 of reopening have been notified by their instructor. If you think you qualify and have not heard from your instructor, please reach out to them.
Here's what you need to know to prepare for your lessons if you or your rider meet the Phase 1 qualifications:
Needless to say, things have changed. Starting with social distancing and PPE/sanitization measures, the measures are not just to protect you, but to protect our staff who are so eager to see you all, but need to stay healthy to maintain our amazing school horses' care!
We require that all students and parents who come into any of our facilities or are near our staff are wearing a mask. Riders are able to pull down their masks while they ride. If you do not have a mask, you will be asked to remain outside our facilities. If your rider does not have a mask, we have a limited supply of masks for purchase (subject to availability). If there is not a mask available here for purchase, your rider will be asked to reschedule once they have acquired one.
We have provided some sanitization stations which will be regularly sanitized by staff.
We have also converted all of our lesson bridles into snap reined bridles so we can easily swap out and sanitize reins so no one is using previously used, unsanitized reins!
We have provided spray and leave cleaners for the bathroom facilities and ask that all customers spray down the toilet handle and seat, sink faucet, paper towel dispenser handle and door knobs after their use of the bathrooms, but should feel free to do so before as well!
If parents are in the lounge (which will be sanitized hourly) they are asked to keep masks on and maintain social distancing as much as is possible. If parents are in the arenas we ask that you maintain social distance. If in an indoor arena, it is asked that you keep a mask on. If outdoor, you can pull your mask down, but please increase your distance from our staff.
We require that all Students over the age of 18 and Parents/Guardians sign our COVID-19 Liability waiver as well as an updated standard Risk Release Agreement. This means, when you or your student first comes back, a waiver will be brought out to you to sign in your car by your instructor or a helper. Please make sure you stick around to sign these waivers rather than just dropping off your rider! Your rider will not be allowed to ride if the waivers have not been signed by an adult. Feel free to call the barn upon your arrival to let someone know you are outside and ready to sign! 262-367-2391
Our schedules are now staggered and extended, and staff have been assigned specific days to teach so that we are not ever over crowding the arena. While we have two lovely outdoor arenas we intend to use during this gorgeous spring weather, we cannot schedule our lessons too far in advance based on the use of those arenas as they are weather and wetness dependent. Instructors will be split each day with half teaching at regular times (3:00, 3:30, 4:00 and so on) and the other half teaching on the quarters (3:15, 3:45, 4:15 and so on) to keep from having any "shift changes" where there are a number of people in the arena at one time.
Another major change is that no riders will be permitted into the school or show barn at this time. Because of that, your arrival protocol has changed:
Please do not arrive any earlier than 10 minutes prior to your lesson unless you would like to remain outside of our facilities.
Charts will now be posted on the door outside the school barn lounge and the show barn lounge. It will show your time, your instructor, your assigned helper (who will be delivering and retrieving your horse), and which arena you will be riding in.
Five minutes prior to your lesson, please go to your assigned arena and wait there for your horse delivery!
While we know this is a bummer as so much of our community loves spending time with our amazing school horses, this measure is to ensure the safety of our staff, our ability to control the number of people inside the barn at any given time, and limiting the number of things we need to be regularly sanitizing. You and your students are permitted inside the show barn lounge or riding arenas to watch, but we cannot permit long periods of watching in the arenas or lounges as it may crowd the areas and make social distancing impossible for parents who have children riding at that time, or for students who are arriving for their lessons at the appropriate times. We ask that anyone in the lounge is a parent of a student riding, a parent and student arriving 10 min prior to their lesson, or someone just using the restroom.
Our intention is to stringently follow recommendations on masks, cleaning, and limiting groups of people in our facility in the hopes of keeping our barn and community moving forward toward normalcy, instead of having to take steps backward into our homes and isolation. We can't wait to see you guys back in the saddle!
Stay Well and Stay #KnollwoodStrong
Team Knollwood hopes you are all enjoying the beautiful sunny days. The farm is green as can be, and Carol’s apple tree is starting to bloom!
First of all, thank you again to everyone who pitched in and supported the best lesson horses in the world in their unemployment.
Thanks to your donations to Merton Feed and all the fundraising projects you’ve done and are still doing, all 30 lesson horses are fat, shiny and happy.
We stand in awe of your kindness and generosity. We don’t know how to possibly thank you enough, but we’ll sure try.
We’re beyond thrilled to be working on our slow, phased reopening plans. We’re reviewing our processes and staffing to make lessons as safe as possible and we look forward to sharing more information as soon as the phase I master plan is complete.
The Knollwood Summer Show has been rescheduled to August 22 and 23 from its original June dates. This will allow all of our riders to get back into riding shape, and get the lesson horses back up to speed as well.
Weather permitting, we may even hold the Saturday classes in the big outdoor ring. Imagine the game division with all that space to play!
We’d love to add another show in early October as well so we have three qualifying events for the finals of the Knollwood Challenge.
The popular Knollwood Prep camp has also been rescheduled and will be held August 10-14. Originally planned for June 8-12, this camp offers KF show riders a chance to immerse themselves in riding close to the competition. This camp helps riders make new friends, and creates memories for a lifetime.
Riders will focus on all things horse, and will have a blast in the process. Please contact us if you’re interested in joining your fellow show stars for a week of camp just for you!
Team Knollwood has been busy while you’ve been schooling online!
The show barn is clean as a whistle, the manure pile has been removed, and a ton of fencing has been replaced all over the farm. Thanks to some generous used furniture donations, the farm office has been refurbished, and the old striped carpeting is a thing of the past!
Richfield Video featured Knollwood in one of their Virtual Visits which was a mix of scenes from the farm, live interviews with Scott and Carol, and the video from their UPHA LIfetime Achievement Award in 2019. You can watch it here.
We've enjoyed Facebook Live broadcasts on Saturday afternoons.
Although we would rather be teaching lessons, we've had some pretty entertaining experiences.
The school horses basically mobbed us the first day we went out in the pasture, and were terrified of Shelby's 'Derby Day' hat.
We hosted an entertaining 'Ask Scott Anything' broadcast, and raised some funds for the Food Pantry of Waukesha County last week with a School Horse Olympics broadcast.
Be sure to join us again this Saturday at 5:00 pm for a Happy Hour with the lesson horses and the instructors. Weather permitting, we'll venture out to the pasture and see what happens.
In the school barn, the tack cubbies have been reorganized ALPHABETICALLY, the stirrup wall in now labeled ALPHABETICALLY by riders’ first name, and all the work bridles are now hanging in the barn with the rest of the tack. No more standing in front of the cubbies or the stirrup wall with that quizzical look on your face!
All the lesson tack has been cleaned and conditioned, and the school barn has been cleaned from top to bottom including ceiling fans and stall fronts.
The summer planting has started as well, with pots full of blooming flowers waiting to greet you at the door. Oh, and that adventurous yellow and white kitten has been helping us with spring plant clean up as well!
The school horses look fabulous, all shed out and shiny. We’ve tried our best to keep them company, but they really miss all their kids. Your visits to the bridle path make them very happy, especially when you bring carrots. They really do miss all of their peeps.
We’ve been riding the boys recently so they’re not shocked when they go back to work, and are happy to report that they all look happy and are ready to get back to work.
It looks like the Oshkosh Charity Horse Show will be our first competition of the 2020 season. Show management is working hard on safety protocols for everyone’s safety, and this spacious outdoor show seems like the perfect way to start the 2020 season.
Held in a park-like setting, Oshkosh has always been a favorite of exhibitors. Open barns, many mature trees, and that fantastic jumbo sized arena with open sides and a roof make the show feel like heaven. And it’s nearby!
We miss all of our friends, and can't wait to start teaching lessons again. Please stay tuned for our phased reopening plans to get you riding again safely.
We Are #KnollwoodStrong