A chorus of giggles provides the soundtrack for the scene at Cicero Fun Factory, where sock-clad tykes dart and dash through an open floor populated by bounce houses. In between drops down the steep chutes of inflatable slides, tykes can army-crawl through tunnels or get big air inside a bounce castle. The play space also offers other sources of fun in the form of air hockey, pool, arcade games, and indoor ziplines, and it goes mobile with bounce-house rentals for birthday parties and community events.
More than 17 acres of lush pasture skirt the facilities at Sterling Shields Stables and Riding Academy, a horseback riding school aimed at beginner to intermediate riders. The school?s instructors place an emphasis on proper form, starting pupils out in the English saddle to learn balance and fundamentals. From there, students progress at their own pace in disciplines such as English riding, hunter/jumper, Western pleasure, and dressage.
Sterling Shields' facilities are carefully designed to ensure comfort year-round. During each lesson, parents can watch their child's progress on monitors in a viewing room that also doubles as a coffee bar. A warm, insulated barn keeps riders toasty as they prepare their mounts in winter. During the summer, the academy hosts horse camps for all levels of experience, during which participants attend daily lessons, learn proper horsemanship, and study the parts of a horse to gain a knowledge base for future veterinary careers and Jeopardy rounds.
Together, Dalton Budd and Kellie Wendling have won more than 35 national championships—an impressive showing that translates into insightful lessons for the new generations of riders at Select Show Horses. And though Dalton and Kellie’s instructorship has resulted in victories for riders and horses at all levels, they still know how to start small, guiding beginners as they confidently command their newfound, hoofed companions. During the stable’s 60-minute lessons, the duo focuses on the disciplines of saddle seat, hunt seat, and western riding, alotting 10 minutes at the beginning and end of each lesson for horse care and the traditional swap of pen-pal addresses between the horse and rider.