At Newport Equestrian, the mother-daughter team of Suzanne Hourihan and Kamala Duffy handle all instruction duties, helping beginners and experienced riders alike to improve their skills. The instructors root their approach in the principles of sound equitation—a focus that Suzanne inherited while training under Irish Olympic rider Nole McGee as a child. Kamala, a USEF hunter/jumper competitor, carries on her mother's passion as she coaches riders of all stripes, from casual pleasure and trail riders to show jumpers intent on winning a gold medal before some cool new Flash game makes the Olympics obsolete. During private and semi-private lessons on flatwork courses, Kamala teases out riders' potential while treating them with respect and encouraging them to overcome the improvement plateaus they'll inevitably reach.
After nearly getting his teeth kicked in by an errant hoof, Stephen Briggs decided that it was probably a good time to walk away from his rodeo career. Bidding his favorite rodeo clowns goodbye, Stephen joined the family business started by his father, Frederick Alvin Briggs—called "Allie" by his customers—more than 30 years ago.
Continuing in his father's footsteps, Stephen now oversees Allie's Store, where his team supplies horse tack, Western and work apparel, and supplies for creatures that range from farm animals to pets. Under Stephen's leadership, Allie's Store now also stocks all-natural animal foods, due to increased customer requests for healthier food for their pets. The shelves display bagged edibles from lines such as Earthborn Holistic and Blue Buffalo. This is the same food the Briggs family feeds its own pets—two dogs, two cats, and four horses named Jessie, Oso, Buddy, and Hoss who exchange local gossip with customers at the adjacent barn.
For more than three decades, Hawkswood Farm has designed its leafy 45-acre parcel of land to be not just a place to ride horses, but also a calming escape from the bustle of daily life. There, riding enthusiasts of all skill levels can pair up with a friendly horse from the herd of more than 30, and enjoy their lessons in a private, semi-private, or group setting far away from hassles such as traffic on interstate highways or interstate horse trails. Lessons can cover both English and Western styles and take place on the farm's indoor ring, outdoor lighted rings, or, for more seasoned riders, the cross-country jump course.
Dogs romp around 7,500 square feet of cushioned rubber flooring, nuzzling with new friends and learning off-leash etiquette like every toddler eventually must. This is the scene at Performance Plus K9 Activity Center during its Perfect Pups pet obedience course, a seven-week program that teaches pooches aged 8–18 weeks how to respond to easy commands and respect owners' homes. It's just one of the obedience courses that the dog-loving staff at Performance Plus offer—they also provide classes in competition obedience and agility. Plus, they recently added new services including grooming and boarding, so pups can stay all day.
Sweet Meadow Farm is not just a kid-friendly equestrian center. Sure, their experienced instructors lead private and group horseback-riding lessons year-round, but the farm also houses an interactive barnyard zoo. Their menagerie of domestic and exotic animals ranges from miniature horses and potbelly pigs to peacocks and kangaroos. Sweet Meadow Farm hosts birthday parties, too, during which kids can meet new critter friends inside the air-conditioned barn and make up secret handshakes that do not require opposable thumbs.
Zazzle.com is an intensely popular provider of personalized presents, stamping T-shirts, coffee mugs, postage, greeting cards, and more with a singular seal of your own idiosyncratic identity. Quickly customize a basic men’s T-shirt ($12.95–$19.95) to commemorate your stellar parking-lot rugby season, or go for a cutely stylized greeting card ($2.95 and up, discounts available for mass quantities). Other popular items include self-designed mugs ($13.95–$22.10) and absurdly cute pet clothes ($18.95 and up). Since each item is created on the spot by Zazzle’s nondenominational gift-making elves, more complicated orders and items may take longer to produce and ship.