When horses are born they often wobble on new legs, building enough strength to trot and canter within a matter of hours. "Their mother doesn't whisper in their ear, 'You're an English horse'," says Dave Konefal, owner of Lone Star Horsemanship, Inc. He trains horses for Western- and English-style riding with a process that he says requires time, patience, and a sense of humor.
Dave often spends weeks with his horses, using conditioned-response training methods to keep them calm and ready for unexpected situations. He excites them gradually and calms them down so that they don't throw riders when scared by something like a backfiring engine or a fluctuating 401(k). He likens the process to pumping a car's brakes on an icy surface, adding, "You have to practice in hazardous situations so you don't wreck." Safety is definitely a priority for the trainer, and it is something that he carries through into riding lessons with his students.
Dave takes on pupils of all ages, and many of them, like the newborn horses, gain confidence rapidly. One rider brought in her great-grandfather, who grew up on a farm but hadn't ridden in decades. The man rode as though he'd never stopped,his wife following close behind andfretting happily at him. The trainer works to keep each lesson within the rider's abilities. "The hardest part about riding is the ground," he says, but he focuses on minimizing the risk of injury by knowing his steeds. Proof of his bond with the equines can be seen on occasions when he is found on his 20-acre ranch, dozing under the stars with a half-ton horse offering its shoulder as a pillow.
Cows, dragons, and sharks sit quietly on the shelves of Mi Pottery. The breath of life is provided by the kids and adults who drop into the homey wooden cottage within sight of the quaint Tomball Depot, ready to adorn them with eye-popping paints and designs. The shop never charges kiln or studio fees, so once guests have chosen their cheery 3-D canvas, they’re free to spend as much time as they need designing an intricate border for a cake stand or giving a roly-poly puppy anatomically accurate fangs.
Mysterious fires. An old bank vault that can’t be destroyed. A deceased opera singer who refuses to draw the curtain on the living world. These are the stories that Houston Ghost Tour’s seasoned phantom chasers impart to mortals as they guide them to local nooks and crannies where spectral squatters may dwell. Guests on the Houston tour tiptoe through the ghostly grounds of Rice University and explore Hermann Park, where the songs from Miller Outdoor Theatre and animalistic shrieks from the Houston Zoo converge to form an eerie soundtrack for sleuthing. Travelers drink in local history during the Old Town Spring adventure, which teems with tales of Civil War battles, high-stakes gambling bets, and brothels filled with the ghosts of bats forever tangled up in lingerie. Along the way, guests can also glimpse the bullet holes of a bank robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. The Tomball tour explores a paranormal train depot and a cemetery that, like an igloo made of dry ice, is said to have vanished into thin air.
At Easel Street Studio, students can paint whatever they like?a crab with a smiley face, an owl with eyelashes?because they have total creative license over the day's project. Fueling inspiration is an onsite bar, where servers pour wine, champagne, and beer. Individuals can reserve seats in open classes, and groups of 8 or more can arrange for private sessions.
Star Pool School’s knowledgeable instructors lead students of all ages and skill levels through the ins and outs of aquatic aptitude in a private, one-on-one setting. Teachers customize each lesson according to students’ abilities, needs, and goals. Budding Olympians plunge into a heated indoor pool to learn water-skimming skills including different swimming styles and how to bribe a starfish into giving up his floaties. Competitive training for more experienced students sharpens stroke techniques, ensuring swimmers can perform proper moves. Before jumping into the water, students can suit up in on-site locker rooms, and the climate-controlled facilities allow paddling practices to continue throughout the year. Lessons can be scheduled during the times listed here.
The U.S. All Star Federation, a committee that regulates competitive dance and cheer, has stamped its seal of approval on Spring Creek Athletics, one of the elite gyms to have earned USASF certification. That’s probably because Spring Creek’s coaches have led their all-star cheer team, the Spring Creek Spinners, to national victory. Despite these intimidating credentials, the athletic complex still welcomes pupils of all ages and abilities to enjoy the health-boosting benefits of tumbling, cheerleading, hip-hop dancing, and break dancing, and it runs camps to introduce novices to the spirited world of athletics.