Hudson Horse Farms Offer Riding Lessons and Emotional Connections

by | Jul 2015

Left to right; Sharon Kleckner with Penny; Johnna Melk with Shadow; Andrea Doane with Buck; Helen Steiner with TBird and Tracy Steiner with Cash.

Left to right; Sharon Kleckner with Penny; Johnna Melk with Shadow; Andrea Doane with Buck; Helen Steiner with TBird and Tracy Steiner with Cash. Photo: Joel Schnell

How three horse-training facilities in Hudson explore the therapeutic side of bonding with equines.

Riding isn’t about just saddling up and hitting the trails. It’s also about bonding with a horse and enjoying the thrill of the ride together. With this in mind, three horse-training facilities in the Hudson area offer traditional riding classes for people of all ages and abilities—as well as some unique programs catered specifically to children and people with special needs, for whom making a connection with a horse can be especially profound.

St. Croix Training Center

Owner Gail Simpson has designed a program at the St. Croix Training Center that focuses on the experience level of each rider, catering each lesson to the individual.

For Simpson, the joy of being in the horse industry is giving riders great experiences—particularly children. “I like the diversity and the fact that I can deal with all different ages,” Simpson says. “They love horses, they want to learn, and I want to teach them.”

The center offers a children’s summer camp, where young riders gain experience while learning about the different breeds of horses, the principles of horsemanship, riding disciplines and horse handling, care and health. Along with Simpson, trainers include Monica Mohn and Cassie Yurick.

In addition to its camp programs, St. Croix Training Center offers everything from lessons to horse shows. The private and semi-private lessons take place in a heated arena and can be purchased individually or as a six-lesson package. For those who want to improve their skills for the trail or shows, the center offers monthly lessons for riders of all abilities.

Seventh Farm

Tom and Liz McCadden have been around horses their entire lives, and today, as owners of Seventh Farm, they take a holistic approach to riding. Their specialty is teaching horse psychology and communication, which means they offer classes where each student receives individualized attention on how to communicate with his or her horse.

“Most of our clients are people who want to really connect and bond with horses,” Tom McCadden says. “Many of our customers come from the city, and this is the one time of the week where they don’t have to think about anyone else because when you’re riding, you have to pay attention to your horse. It’s very therapeutic.”

At Seventh Farm, the introduction to horse riding class teaches riders the basics of how to brush and groom a horse, how to lead and control it, and how to walk and trot. In the intermediate and advanced classes, riders learn advanced groundwork training, horse behavior, hunter and jump equitation, and horse health care and stable management. Classes are held weekly for four-week sessions, with no more than four students in each class.

Hawk’s Ridge Ranch

As a naturopathic doctor and owner of Hawk’s Ridge Ranch, Dr. Susan Anderson offers beginner, intermediate and advanced options for riders to learn and gain experience in both individual and group lessons, day trips and team building programs.

The unique aspect of this ranch comes from Anderson’s practice of natural science, which she applies to horse therapy programs for special needs groups. One of her programs was developed specifically for people with autism. “Time spent with a horse re-energizes that feeling of self-love. Those kids end up feeling really powerful,” Anderson says.

The ranch teaches teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills. People with special needs make the connection with their horse when they go into the pasture and allow the horse to choose them, continuing that connection during grooming and cleaning up. All lessons are bareback, so the rider can feel how the horse moves.

Anderson’s teaching begins and ends with knowing how each horse responds to people. “By partnering with things in nature, we restore harmony and balance to our bodies and our lives,” she says. “The horse is a very powerful restorative.”

St. Croix Training Center
422 County Road F

Hawk’s Ridge Ranch
457 County Road

Seventh Farm
340 Glenmont Road
River Falls


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