Kelly Kraegel Varner, who held the title Miss Rodeo California in 2002, presides over Cottonwood Creek's stable of regal Morgan horses, many of whom have had a hand in the 50 World and Grand National and Reserve Championships she and her clientele have amassed over the years. With the help of Mandy Highsaw, a 20-year veteran rider and instructor, Kelly has centered Cottonwood as a respected riding school catering to students as young as seven.
The ranch's horseback riding lessons impart precious knowledge in a variety of riding styles, including Western, English, saddle-seat, stick-shift, and automatic, with friendly teachers practicing effective, positive reinforcement on both students and horses. Come midsummer, Cottonwood's summer camp amasses small groups for tutorials in Western- and English-style riding and grooming, as well as outdoor activities such as swimming and crafting. Gallopers gallivant across the ranch's newly renovated riding facility, with a spacious outdoor arena for open-air rides or a well-lit, roomy indoor space for winter riding or playing games of horse Monopoly during rainstorms.