Growing the Equestrian Sport From “Horses As Healers” Service Program
“It was a treat to see the students improve as the season progressed,” said Ms. Brann. “Students became more adept at cleaning tack, which allowed more time for other delightful stable chores, such as mucking stalls, throwing hay, and feeding.” Students also learned about the horse world through live interaction and research. “We took a trip to a local farm to watch a dressage exhibition, where students gained a better appreciation for the work a rider must master as well as the ability of the horse in displaying dressage movements.” As a final project, each student researched a particular aspect of interest within the equestrian realm and shared their knowledge with the group. Some popular topics were breeds of horses, western riding, and the “language” of the horse. The Miller School of Albemarle Equestrian Program, led by Ms. Elizabeth Brann, celebrated its 5th season off the Hill this fall. The students who participated this year ranged from the inexperienced to those who have competed with their own horses. Some students had previous experience with hunt seat equitation, while others were more familiar with dressage or western riding. It was a great mix of talent and fun!
The season culminated in a horse show, consisting of hunt seat equitation divisions and timed games on horseback. All of the riders showed excitement and interest throughout the season, and Ms. Brann looks forward to developing the program further as time goes by!
According to Ms. Brann, “The focus of our equestrian program is hunt seat equitation, so several of our students had to adjust their riding styles, but all were willing and successful. Students participated in group riding lessons two days a week where they focused on their form and position on the horse. Lessons were conducted in the riding ring, and once all of our riders were clearly comfortable in the saddle, we had the opportunity to go on an extended trail ride.” The students enjoyed riding through the hillsides of Albemarle County while learning etiquette in the field, and they also gained knowledge of the responsibilities associated with riding horses. Once a week, they ventured to the stables and focused on stable responsibilities. Students learned to take apart a bridle, clean it, and put it back together again. The first couple of times, this process was challenging for some. Who knew that a bit could be put on backwards! Students also took the time to learn the parts of the saddle while they were cleaning their tack.
Bell Tower Magazine • Fall/Winter 2010
Miller School of Albemarle Magazine