I teach Balanced Seat riding, which is an English form. It is the root of dressage, so applicable to eventing or hunter-jumper competition, but also to games and any good riding. While a good beginning can take a student to success in the show ring, my focus is particularly on building good foundations toward any goal. So by starting slowly- with private lessons and lots of correction of position, the student very quickly attains a degree of confidence and independence. By starting out steering with eye rather than hand, and with exercises for balance and rhythm, the student becomes sensitive to communication with the horse. Thus, in a fairly short time, we are able to develop Balance, Relaxation, Communication and Confidence in the rider. From there, all riding goals require nothing more than fine tuning and practice.
Kami, the owner and primary instructor, has been riding for over 35 years, and teaching or learning to teach for most of that time. She began riding at Oldfield School in Maryland, which had a strong Eventing program, lots of clinics and trail rides, and a pony-club based stable management program. In addition, she has a degree in elementary education and experience with handicapped kids, as well as over six years’ experience as an assistant with Theraputic Riding. She has also taken courses in TTeam Touch for horses, and Centered Riding, toward instructor certification. Currently, Thumbs Up Riding School has been in Alachua since 2010, developing the facility on 40 acres and a string of lesson horses. We are in process of building a Cross Country Jumping course, with some driving obstacles as well. Previously, she taught in Miami and Homestead from 2005 to 2010, with students from age 3 to age 53.
Goals I’ve got some ambitious plans for this little 40 acres.
They’ll take time to complete, and the process is a great adventure. Some parts are close to completion, some will take longer, and some are long-term dreams.
The school-horse barn will be getting roof vents and two more pony stalls this summer, bringing up the total capacity to ten.
While we’re working on roofs, I’m planning to put run-in sheds in all the pastures, an extension on the pump-house roof to store jumps, and ultimately a tall pole-barn to store the tractor, trailers and other equipment.
Tack room will be finished this summer, to include a bathroom with shower, washing machine, tack cleaning station including a utility sink, fridge and microwave, storage benches along the back wall, and an air conditioner.
The feed room will be insulated, with a built in counter for mixing supplements, a small fridge and crock pot, and better lighting.
As we continue to improve and update the fenceline, removing barbed wire and putting in horse-fence, we will continue the process of building a cross country jumping course of up to 24 fences, some in the fenceline, some in the fields. I’m also planning to include up to five obstacles for carriages. A water jump is in the long-term plan.
In about two years, I’m planning to add a 16 stall barn for boarders, with wash racks, an attached apartment, tack and feed rooms. At that point, the cottage becomes available for working students, clinicians and/or summer camp.
I would love to host such clinics as yoga or Feldenkreis movement for riders, Centered Riding or TTouch, etc. Along similar lines, I am looking forward to being able to host cross country schooling days, driving clinics, etc.
I hope, when these tasks are done, I will be able to put a roof over the stable yard, which at 30 meters x 40 (approximately 100 feet by 130), is large enough for most lessons and even a small jump or two. It will save losing time due to heat or rain.
My longest term goal, in addition to certification in both TTeam Touch and as a Centered Riding instructor, and also for therapeutic riding through PATH, is to be able to train working students in my own teaching methods, using a lot of body awareness and hands-on instruction to help riders to find their confidence, balance, control and ability to communicate with their horse.