The equestrian trainers at Foxtail Farms conduct horseback-riding lessons for riders seeking leisure time atop a steed and for those considering competition. Amid a rural landscape of patchwork crop fields and untamed plains, horses lope, gallop, leap, and waffle on which shoes to wear that day as instructors lead intimate training sessions. Skilled in teaching the ins and out of hunter, jumper, and equitation riding, instructors help to foster horsemanship skills while preparing riders for many situations, including the show ring. Believing that success can only be found when both rider and horse have created a special bond, the trainers also work to create an atmosphere in which that bond can be nurtured and tempered.
Since 1978, Nighthorse Farm has invited guests to its paradise of pastureland at Brookside Equestrian Park, where they can learn horseback-riding skills amid 20 acres filled with six outdoor arenas, multiple barns, and open fields. As a lifelong rider and US representative to the 1982 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, Debbie Stone has been the head trainer at Nighthorse since 1998 and oversees a staff of horse whisperers who teach lessons in the riding disciplines of hunter, jumper, and equitation. Whether they are beginners or have their sights set on showing at the local, state, and regional level, students are encouraged to develop teamwork with the horse that comes in handy when avoiding the highway police during high-speed chases.
Born into a family of equestrians, Jesslynn Saxton spent her summers on a horse farm, learning to ride at an early age. At 15, after having had some success in riding competitions, she took a job as a stable apprentice and dreamed of opening her own riding school. Today, as the founder of Saxton Equestrian, Jesslynn is an accomplished rider, trainer, and stable manager with more than 20 years of experience. Harboring an innate passion for teaching, she holds lessons and training sessions and volunteers with Project R.I.D.E., a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic riding instruction for persons with disabilities.
Jesslynn’s horse sanctuary, Clay Station Ranch, sits on 23 acres of green pastures, upon which five barns house 40 stalls. The ranch’s two outdoor arenas allow riders to sharpen their skills under blue skies, and a lighted indoor arena features all-weather felt footing, irrigated grass turnouts, wash racks with hot water, viewing areas, and a riders’ lounge, where equestrians can kick back and relax after going on an exhausting ride or failing to teach the horses how to neigh in a British accent.
ChaCha's Doggie Day Care keeps dogs frolicking most of the day before letting them pass out in private suites equipped with bedding, chew toys, and relaxing music. Encouraging canine exercise, the cage-free facility features climate-controlled indoor and outdoor play areas equipped with pools, hoses, snuggle blankets, balls, and hand-shaped seats large enough to make mastiffs imagine life as a chihuahua. Thanks to a 24-hour webcam system, owners can watch as their pooches play, eat, and sleep. ChaCha's Doggie Day Care adamantly adheres to rules and regulations in place to protect the safety and health of both workers and furry guests.
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Elsie Lodde grew up on a farm surrounded by her own menagerie. She bottle-fed her first homeless kittens and bunnies at a young age and began bringing home and caring for strays in her free time as an adult. She started working for a national rescue group but grew unhappy with the group's restrictions and decided to rescue dogs on her own. Elsie founded Recycled Pets Norcal to give homeless animals a chance they might not otherwise get in shelters. The entire staff consists of volunteers, who foster many animals in their own homes before finding adoptive families for them in Northern California, vowing to follow up with each adoption to ensure the animals don't return to shelters. The organization also spays or neuters homeless animals and assists dogs' adoptive families with training, food, and transportation to veterinary appointments.