How is ELS different from other barns?Blue
ELS believes that happy horses make humans happy. It is not just the riding program at ELS that humans enjoy but the community of people who are positive, progressive and desire to see the world through the horse’s point-of-view. The ELS atmosphere is one of acceptance and learning. Adults and kids alike thrive in this type of atmosphere.

Why do you teach kids to ride on bareback pads instead of saddles?

Bareback riding is the oldest form of riding. Feeling the motion and movement as close as possible to the horse’s muscles allows for unrestricted connection that translates into alignment with the horse. True balance emerges when horse and rider attain fluidity through connectivity. It is safer and develops a truer, more secure seat and balance that a saddle cannot provide. Students transition to saddles once their core balance is firmly established. Bareback training has resulted in fewer injuries at our stables.

Are all ELS horses rescues?

No. Many of our horses were in jobs where they were physically or mentally unable to perform at their best. We re-educate the horses by discovering and developing their strengths and help them overcome their fears. They develop into confident teachers that try harder and enjoy teaching new skills to their students.
Some ELS horses are not lesson horses but are looking for special human partners. It takes a very tolerant and confident horse to be a safe lesson instructor. 

Are all ELS horses bitless?

At ELS we educate the hands first in a bitless bridle so as to protect the delicate mouth of the horse until the student has learned the “art” of soft hands and finesse with the fingers. We teach riders how to communicate through subtle finger pressure and physical tone rather than tension and overbearing. This method emphasizes respect of the horse’s willingness to cooperate from yielding to soft pressure rather than by force, fear or discomfort.

Why does ELS use treeless saddles?

ELS is committed to the health and well-being of the horse first. Many horses that come to ELS have behaviors that are dangerous and resistant to correction. We have found the vast majority of oppositional behaviors (bucking, bolting, biting, kicking, striking, rearing) is many times related to discomfort from poor saddle fitting. Over the past 13 years, we have used the treeless saddles to physically rehabilitate the horses and have had remarkable success. Along with chiropractic and massage therapy, our horses’ behavior positively reflects the back and hoof care they receive.  Not all horses are candidates for the treeless saddle. In these cases, a professional saddle fitter is involved and the horse is custom fit for their individual need.


What are the most important elements of the ELS programs?

Horses and humans share the following wants, needs, and desires:

  • Productivity: Horses and humans want to feel useful by getting things done and contributing to something outside of themselves.
  • Building healthy trust relationships: Horses like humans need to build and maintain healthy, trust relationships. This cohesive, social nature is found in many species of animals as well as humans.
  • Unity in the herd: Being a part of a bigger herd is the desire of both horses and humans. It is the deeper connectivity that bonds us together and provides a deep sense of well-being and belonging.

Do you accept young interns at the barn?

Yes.  Youth 13 to 18 years old are trained to take care of horses, property, stables, and humans. Depending on the age and experience of the student, we have a training program that teaches horse care tasks and stable management.  It is a 60-hour commitment for orientation and training.

What if I am an adult and want to Intern?

ELS has many adults who desire to learn more about horses or just want to be around them more. At ELS we want everyone to enjoy our wonderful horses. Whether you join the horseback riding lessons program or want more exposure to horses, ELS has it all! (adults must pass a background check to work with our youth programs).

Nikki 8.23.13Why sponsor a horse?

From time-to-time ELS takes on horses that need more than routine health care or training. We have helped many horses find new homes or a new job in the ELS herd. Sponsorship allows ELS to help the horse with Board and training expenses and clients sponsor blankets, hoof care and/or medical expenses. It is far less expensive than owning a horse and the client gets to enjoy experiencing the progress.

How can I become a sponsor?

Contact Robyn Smith and a list of needs will be provided and the name of a horse in the herd that needs help. Horse blankets and hoof care are the biggest needs at this time. The sponsorships can be a one-time donation or a monthly commitment. Either option is helpful and appreciated.