Children experienced springtime weather and horse time while learning the basics of horsemanship during Freedom Farm’s Spring Break Horsemanship Camp earlier this month. (Kip Tulin)

Children experienced springtime weather and horse time while learning the basics of horsemanship during Freedom Farm’s Spring Break Horsemanship Camp earlier this month. (Kip Tulin)

HORSEPLAY: Several organizations offer riding lessons

OVER THE RIVER and through the woods to grandmother’s house the kids go for the summer.

Now what? It’s time to learn new things and participate in outdoor experiences.

Frequently I’m asked whom I’d recommend to give riding lessons.

Currently I feel comfortable suggesting three riding stables.

While I know there are more folks offering lessons — and some are excellent teachers — at this time I only feel comfortable promoting those who facilities I have visited and have meet the owner/trainer; I’ve seen the type of well-trained horses that are beginner safe and I like their youth programs.

All three offer beginning to advanced riding programs, including jumping.

Unfortunately, these don’t feature western disciplines, such as reining or barrel racing. They did offer a solid foundation for learning about horses and riding, though.

If you’d like to recommend another trainer or facility, please send me the information so I can find out more.

Freedom Farms is at the top of my list because owner Mary Gallagher just keeps on improving her facility and offers a variety of programs.

The farm offers hands-on experience, an emphasis on getting to know horse psychology, and creating a connection between horse and human.

It’s centered around natural horsemanship techniques and they offer group and private lessons in equitation, jumping, dressage and groundwork.

The Mini Beats riding classes, for those 7 and younger, is held the first Sunday of each month from noon to 2 p.m. December through May.

I cannot stress how much I love the Hoof Beats youth riding program.

It offers group lessons, activities and friendship among horse-loving youths.

It’s a wonderful, enriching and supportive environment that runs Wednesdays through Saturdays for youths of all ages, abilities and riding disciplines.

Students may use their own horse or one of the farm’s horses.

Horsemanship with Gallagher is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays.

There are ongoing hoof clinics offer by Gallagher and her husband, Jerry Schmidt, including one today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The 2019 clinics

• April 28 — Equine body work before the ride by Sarah O’Dell Fredrickson

• July 17 to 21 — Cowboy dressage and ranch versatility by Dave Ellis

• Aug. 17 to 19 — Connecting to the Feet by Mary Gallagher

Summer day camps

• June 24-28 — for those ages 5 and older

• July 1-5 — Advanced preparation for performance camp, young and adult equestrians.

For more information, visit the website or call 360-457-4897.

Freedom Farm is at 493 Spring Farm Road between Sequim and Port Angeles in Agnew.


Fox-Bell Farm & Training owner Shelby Vaughan rescues horse, dogs and even children in need of hanging out with horses at her facility in Agnew.

She offers group and individual lessons from beginners to advanced, on your horse or hers.

From the time school lets out in the afternoon to evening, the place is bustling with children.

Vaughan also has horses in training and is known for working out the badly behaved horses.

Vaughan also is good with helping horse owners work through troubling horse issues and learn how to gain the confidence needed to communicate well with horses.

Call Vaughan at 206-399-7683, visit her Facebook page Fox-Bell Farm & Training or stop by her place at 136 Finn Hall Road in Agnew.


Heron Pond Farm Equestrian Center owner Christine Headley is currently the only United States Dressage Federation (USDF) certified instructor in Jefferson County and the only one on my list so far in Jefferson County.

Headley trains horses along with teaching students dressage, jumping and eventing with an emphasis on solid flat-work through the various levels of dressage.

Her training techniques are based on proven Natural Horsemanship methods, as well as United States Pony Club (USPC) methods because USPC certifications test horse management knowledge and riding skills.

Each of the 12 levels of certification get progressively more difficulty.

So if you’re looking to become an advanced dressage rider then Headley is the teacher for you.

If you just want to learn about horses and riding in a casual atmosphere you’ll enjoy taking lessons there, on either her horses or yours, too.

Find her Facebook page Heron Pond Farm Equestrian Center or call her at 360-286-9256.

The center is on Green Way in Port Townsend.


• Help a Horse Hoedown fundraiser — 6 p.m. May 18

The event is for Olympic Peninsula Equine Network (OPEN), our local horse rescue, rehabilitation and adoption center. It includes dinner, a silent auction and dancing to the music of local favorite The Jim Hoffman Band.

Fox Bell Farms Wedding & Celebrations is hosting the event at 137 N. Barr Road in the Agnew area of Port Angeles.

For information, contact Mike Vaillancourt at 714-222-0755 or

Learn more about OPEN at


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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Cutline: A fundraiser for WAG and Open starts Today at 11 a.m. with an English and jumping fun show, followed tomorrow with a Western Games show at Kari Payne’s 4-L arena off Blue Mountain Road, 95 S. McCrorie Rd. Port Angeles.  Fox-Bell Farm owner Shelby Vaughan, and her assistants Sophie Feik and Kaia Lestage (holding Marley) will be there to host. Shown is Tatar Trots, 10. a horse Shelby got from OPEN five years ago when he was a feral, unhandled stallion and, now, after castrating and training,  he’s a docile horse who enjoys teaching kids how to ride.


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