2013-10-11 / Community Events

Fort Gordon Hilltop Riding Stables offer lessons for everyone

By Bonnie Heater
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Emily Flowers, an instructor at Hilltop Riding Stables, provides some introductory riding tips to Taylor Dantignac, 13, during a lesson at Fort Gordon. 
Photo by Bill Bengston / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Emily Flowers, an instructor at Hilltop Riding Stables, provides some introductory riding tips to Taylor Dantignac, 13, during a lesson at Fort Gordon. Photo by Bill Bengston / Fort Gordon Public Affairs The Fort Gordon Hilltop Riding Stables offers an opportunity to learn to ride a horse with its more than 35 acres of pasture and over 10 miles of designated trail rides through wooded areas and water crossings.

Riding lessons are available from September through May. Anyone age 7 or older can register for lessons, including the general public.

“We are a beginner barn, so we start with the basics of horse husbandry, grooming, tack right through walk and then trot,” said Heidi Mohr, Hilltop Riding Stables manager. “We offer lessons to beginners, from the person who have never been around a horse, but wants to learn about them; the people who may love horses, but are scared and want to get over their fear of them; to the person who has experience, but wants some refreshers.”

People start from the ground up, she added. “The new rider learns how to catch and lead a horse, how to read a horse’s body language, and about grooming, saddling and actually riding a horse.”

Customers should feel comfortable the minute they come to the facility, Mohr said. “They will be greeted, asked to sign in for their lesson, given a few minutes to take care of any last minute items they may need to attend to. Then they will start their lesson with grooming, and saddling the horse.”

Instructors keep a running detailed log of customer’s progress and items that need to be reinforced with repetition.

Safety at Hilltop Riding Stables is emphasized throughout the lessons. “We like to ensure our customers are in a safe environment, so we provide a riding helmet and make sure before, we get too far into the lessons, that we have taught our riders safety around the stables, the equipment and the horses,” Mohr explained. “We select a horse for a rider based on the person’s ability to ride. We have horses that are excellent for a beginner to horses that a more experienced person can ride.”

There are two types of lessons offered at Hilltop Riding Stables.

Private lessons for a single person cost $50 per hourly lesson and semiprivate hourly lessons for two individuals; cost $45 per person per lesson.

Once riders are more experienced, there are several different colordesignated trails that they will be able to ride. Some of the trails range from a 15-minute to a two-hour ride; which are based on the customer’s level of experience, Mohr said. “All rides are led by an experienced staff rider.”

Two beginner riders, Xandra Corl, 10, and his sister, Amerika, 8, take lessons at Hilltop Riding Stables from instructor Emily Flower, where they saddle their horses and lead them to a round pen.

“I home school the children as much as I can,” said Cassie Corl. “This time is their physical education period. I want them to have opportunities to do many things so they learn what they really like.”

Inside the pen, each rider mounts their horse. Flowers gives a quick tutorial on how to stop, go forward and turn their horses, which they demonstrate to be more comfortable when they get on a riding trail.

“I like the excitement of riding horses and how fast they go,” Xandra said. “It’s like a fair ride. I can’t wait until my next lesson. I want to start running or trotting my horse in the big pen field.”

Horseback riding has few limitations based on age or one’s abilities, making horse riding accessible and enjoyable for adults and children. For more information or to register for riding lessons, visit Hilltop Riding Stables, Building 509, on North Range Road, or call 791-4864 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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