Summer lessons can teach kids about horses as well as themselves

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As the smile on her face can tell, Taylor Kozelka enjoyed basic horse lessons at the Childrens Ranch last season.

By Correne Martin

For parents looking to find the perfect summer activity for their kids, you might consider horse riding lessons at the Childrens Ranch in Prairie du Chien. Held throughout June and July in three-week sessions three days a week, or one-week sessions five days a week (two hours per day), these lessons teach kids not only to ride and interact with horses but also to have self-confidence and be willing to challenge themselves.

“We never lead them. From day one, they ride by themselves on their own,” Childrens Ranch Manager Gracie White said. “The horses I use are kid-safe and kid-broke. Even in the winter, I work with them. They’re perfect horses for these lessons.

“Sometimes the kids are nervous at first, but once they realize they can do it all on their own, they get a huge smile on their faces.”

Boys and girls participating in the basic lessons must be at least 8 years old and, generally, the cut off age is 14. They don’t need any prior horse experience. Each lesson includes at least 45 minutes of teaching the kids about the horses. They will learn basic horse care, horse talk (breeds, colors, parts of the saddle), how to ride a horse in an arena and on trails safely and more. By the end of the course, kids will know how to saddle and bridle a horse as well as ride. They will also take home a binder of information about horses.

Classes are limited to seven kids. At least three volunteer instructors will lead each of the lessons.

This summer, White hopes to accommodate kids who are in the Prairie du Chien area visiting grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc., with the new one-week sessions. “I’ve had a lot of requests for this type of class.

They will learn everything the three-week kids learn, but it’ll all be crammed into one week,” she said.

Course dates available are as follows:

•Group 1—Three weeks, June 15-July 3, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 9 to 11 a.m.
•Group 3—Three weeks, July 6-24, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 12 to 2 p.m.
•Group 4—One week, July 6-10, Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m.
•Group 6—One week, July 27-31, Monday through Friday, 12 to 2 p.m.

“The classes always fill up fast, so don’t procrastinate. They’re usually filled up by May,” White noted. “We also ask that kids only take one level per year so everybody can get a chance.”

The only requirements of participants are that they wear closed toe shoes and pants. Otherwise, all of the horses, tack, helmets and other materials needed for instruction are provided by the ranch. A water bottle is also a good item to bring to classes, which take place rain or shine. Thanks to the Childrens Ranch’s indoor arena, riding can be done even when it’s raining.

Parents are asked not to stay during the lessons; however, on the last day, a fun show, or gymkhana, will be held for the kids to show off what they’ve learned to their family and friends. At that time, parents are welcome to take pictures and meet the horses used for the lessons.

“The kids always have a favorite horse, which is usually the first one they ride,” White added.

To sign up for any of the lessons offered, you can reserve a spot online at (on the left side, click on the lesson of your choosing) and pay with a credit card or PayPal.

In addition to the basic lessons, more advanced lessons are offered depending on experience. Visit the website for more details on those opportunities.

With questions, call Gracie White at (608) 790-7104.

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