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Riding Lesson Recommendations - Sudbury, MA (for special needs 7 yr old)

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  • Riding Lesson Recommendations - Sudbury, MA (for special needs 7 yr old)

    Hi all...

    Anyone have quality riding lesson program recommendations near Sudbury, MA? My 7 year old niece has been riding for about two years now (previous at North Gate Farm), and apparently she got cut when they downsized their program for the winter. I do not have details, btw....I'm in D.C. and the rest of the family is up in the New England area. I'm just asking for references.

    Niece loves the riding and needs a patient instructor. Child is in therapy for emotional issues, I have been told it doesn't affect her ability to be around horses (she doesn't act out like that), but the riding greatly benefits her emotionally and they want to keep with it. Family would like to keep the riding along the lines of English/hunt seat and would like another program that emphasizes grooming, tacking up, etc in addition to the riding itself. Does not need to be a show barn, right now the focus on the riding is just to get her out and doing what she loves, I don't see the need to throw the pressure of showing into the situation at the moment. Safety and fun are the primary concerns right now.

    Would greatly appreciate any help. Thank you in advance.
    War Horse Blog
    Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse

  • #2
    Bear Spot Farm in Concord, MA. They have a program for special need kids, and the owner has a psych degree.


    • #3
      Bear Spot is a lovely place, but it's serious dressage, and the owner, Jane Karol, is a psychologist who sees some clients for equine assisted psychotherapy. She's amazing, but it doesn't sound like a perfect fit for the kiddo in question.

      I've heard nice things about Liberty Tree Farm in Acton -- focus isn't on showing, just on enjoying lessons.

      Verrill Farm in Concord has a lesson program that looks fun too, not pressured, and the added benefit of a great farm stand on site.

      Lovelane is in Lincoln and is a therapeutic riding stable that offers lessons to kids with special needs, neurotypical kids, and they have a great Barn Buddy program to teach horsemanship skills. https://lovelane.org


      • Original Poster

        Thank you both. To clarify, the kiddo is a perfectly capable little rider, just is in therapy for some emotional issues which I do not have the details of. She is in a normal riding program and just benefits from a patient and understanding instructor. Trying to steer them away from super serious show programs because I don't think she needs that pressure, they have her a little overloaded with other activities, and the general consensus is that horse time (all the grooming, ground stuff in addition to riding) does her a lot of good. A nice, quiet, weekly lesson is pretty much her speed at this stage.

        ETA....Late night epiphany: I've asked my brother to call her previous instructor(s) directly and ask them; they're in the area and familiar with what is around that might be a good fit, and are familiar with her.
        War Horse Blog
        Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse


        • #5
          Is Century Mill still in business? It's in Bolton, 18 minutes from Sudbury.


          • #6
            Bear Spot is definitely serious dressage.

            Liberty Tree is for sale. I'm not sure if they are still doing lessons or not.

            Century Mill is more of a A-rated hunter barn than it used to be. Also I do not think it is 18 minutes from Sudbury.

            I would say Broadacres in Sudbury but I hear it's closing and it's more eventing orientated.

            I think Hybid Farm in Acton might fit your needs but I haven't been there in ages and I'm not sure how it's functioning these days.


            • #7
              Ruth -- 18 minutes, door to door from my house in Sudbury. Ask me how I know. Ask me. :-) (Don't really ask me; I just have memories of having it down to the minute, as I was taking lessons there at a time in life when getting to the barn was a feat of planning. :-)

              OP -- what about Maple Grove, in Hudson? I don't know anything about it, other than that it exists; it might be worth a try. Also, I have a friend who has a friend who teaches kids' lessons on a saint of a horse in Framingham; I will pm you with the contact info if they have openings, but I don't think they have an indoor and we're getting to that time of year....


              • #8
                You could try Shepley Hill in Marlboro. It's the old Milestone Facility. Lelo is very good with young riders and she is ok with non-competitors and/or people that want to go at their own pace. Lesson-goers are expected to tack up/take care of the horse they ride for lessons. There should be other younger people her age there too as there are quite a few Pony Clubbers at Shepley.
                "i'm a slow learner, it's true."


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by SharonA View Post

                  OP -- what about Maple Grove, in Hudson?
                  I'm just taking farm recs and passing them on to my brother. I haven't lived in the NE area in 15 years or so, in DC currently; I have zero knowledge of any of the MA area farms, locations, and how appropriate any of them would be...

                  Thank you again everyone.
                  War Horse Blog
                  Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse


                  • #10
                    Red Acre Farm in Stow. the Steeges.
                    "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                    ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                    • #11
                      My BO has run a therapy program for years. I met her in 1999 when I started volunteering - not knowing at the time that I'd get into this hook, line, sinker, and my own horse in 2001. She does have children in the regular lesson program that do not need specialized adaptation and/or instruction such as children with autism require.

                      If your niece is doing well in a regular lesson program, I would focus on instructor fit because she doesn't necessarily need a therapeutic program. In fact, she might do fine at a show barn like Bear Spot if she sees showing as a goal, something she would like to work toward, without being pressured into it. If the BO has a psych background I would view that as a valuable resource. She may also find herself developing new friendships there, also.

                      You said she may be overloaded with other activities. If it was my brother, I'd be advising him to look seriously at focusing on horses. If she is doing well after 2 years and loves it, that might be the best place for her to develop coping skills she needs in daily life, along with enjoying success with horses and riding.
                      "Providence sometimes takes care of idiots." Agnes Morley Cleaveland, No Life for a Lady, 1977.


                      • Original Poster

                        I appreciate your thoughts, walktrot, I know your intentions are good, but...please read what I'm asking for. Per the other posts, I am not asking for therapeutic programs for her, just a farm/instructor that will be better geared toward her situation. I did not say she cannot be in any show program, but sending her to a strictly AA circuit-focused facility is probably going to be lost on her right now.

                        I apologize if I seem snippy, but I've just lost my heart horse after a horrible month of struggle...right now, I really only need a few farm names and numbers for them to consider to help keep the kid in the saddle.

                        I've given my opinions to my brother. I am strictly looking for farm recommendations to pass on at this time. Please, no other commentary. Thank you.
                        Last edited by GoneAway; Nov. 21, 2017, 04:45 PM.
                        War Horse Blog
                        Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse


                        • #13
                          Liberty Tree has been sold. I’ve heard that the new owners intend it to be a Pony Club barn so that could be a good fit. Dunroven Farm in Harvard is a little further away but trainer is awesome. She teaches balance seat rather than hunt seat.


                          • #14
                            GoneAway, I'm sorry you misconstrued my intentions. There were several posts that talked about therapy programs. I simply wanted to say that a regular lesson program should work, also that a show barn could be an option.

                            I'm sorry you lost your horse and wish the best for you and your family.

                            "Providence sometimes takes care of idiots." Agnes Morley Cleaveland, No Life for a Lady, 1977.