On a ranch in the country, Epona Farms' trainers share the equestrian spirit with newcomers, youth, and champions-to-be in their indoor arenas and outdoor sand area. Triona Watson, an advanced coach since 1975, draws from her international experience to head up the facility's instructional programs. Her riding curriculum centers on three components: dressage, stadium jumps, and cross-country riding. Along with these focuses, her students learn English and Western styles of riding in an indoor arena and outdoor sand area. As spring turns to summer, Epona's horse whisperers expand their lessons into immersive day camps that teach horsemanship and leadership skills to adolescents, and let the children interact with other animals, such as rabbits and sheep. Younger children may be enchanted by PeeWee Pony School, a program that pairs pintsize novices with appropriate-size steeds to help instill a love for horses and riding at a young age. Additionally, the instructors focus on community outreach and work with special-needs children and young adults.
Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept?from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.
When childhood friends Ronald Liu, Jessica Chiep, and Thomas Wang decided to veer off the traditional corporate path, they set out to open their own cafe. Combining their American upbringing with Asian culture heritage, they wanted to create a unique and Asian-American fusion concept to put the power of culinary creation into the hands of their guests. The result was The H.A. Cafe, a casual dining spot where guests can choose everything from fresh fish and veggies to sauces and starches to create their own sushi rolls, dons, or okonomiyakis?a Japanese version of American pizza. The menu relies on plenty of startling ingredients; wakame seaweed, greens, and cucumbers flavor many of the dishes, from the tuna sashimi salad dressed in wasabi ranch, to the grilled chicken teriyaki bowl. At the bubble tea and smoothie bar, baristas trained in mixology hand-craft fresh brewed tea infused with fruit juices and a large variety of boba.
The sound of clanging metal emanates from a factory-like structure flanked by asphalt and trees. This plant doesn't manufacture station wagons or wrought-iron fences. Here, certified CrossFit coaches transform exercisers into athletes with barbells and sledgehammers. Classes revolve around functional workouts, which teem with strength-training moves inspired by Olympic weightlifters and gymnasts. In addition to building lean muscle mass with dumbbells and pull-ups, participants torch calories and cultivate stamina with cardio challenges such as rowing and sprinting. During On Ramp classes, instructors show newcomers how to exercise safely, whether they're wielding a heavy weight or jumping rope with a sleeping boa constrictor. The exercises can be scaled to different levels of fitness, allowing beginners and accomplished athletes to work out side by side.
At Kite Sports of Connecticut, instructors teach others how to harness the wind and water through the extreme sport of kite surfing. It's an intense activity with inherent risks, so they take the time to ensure all students garner the necessary skills to master it safely. Classes cover all the basics, such as setting up and launching the kiteboard and maneuvering and wielding the kite in various types of wind, as well as wind windows and the three types of power strokes used. Lessons start on land so students can get a handle on the fundamentals before private lessons take watersports enthusiasts onto the waves to ride the wind.
Co-founders Alana La Fleur and Vanessa Jennings put the mission of VAz Media right in the name: V stands for "Vanessa," A for "Alana," and Z represents "everything for women, from A to Z." The duo established their event-planning company to give women a place to relax and socialize in a supportive environment, free of stress or the incessant pandering for their votes from mayoral candidates. La Fleur and Jennings also partner each event with a charity, raising funds for organizations such as the Connecticut chapter of the National MS Society and CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund.