The sounds of clopping hooves carry across High Standard Equestrians’ expansive facility, where active and retired show horses kick up dirt on indoor and outdoor rings. A member of The United States Equestrian Federation and United States Hunter Jumper Association, the family-friendly establishment employs an expert staff that leads competitive training sessions and interactive lessons. While retired Dutch Warmblood, Welsh Pony, and Westphalian show horses host students on their saddles, the facility’s active show horses train for upcoming competitions. Their daily workouts include galloping around the ring, jumping over hurdles, and chasing ranch hands for playing with their shoes.
Born into a family of equestrians, Jesslynn Saxton spent her summers on a horse farm, learning to ride at an early age. At 15, after having had some success in riding competitions, she took a job as a stable apprentice and dreamed of opening her own riding school. Today, as the founder of Saxton Equestrian, Jesslynn is an accomplished rider, trainer, and stable manager with more than 20 years of experience. Harboring an innate passion for teaching, she holds lessons and training sessions and volunteers with Project R.I.D.E., a nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic riding instruction for persons with disabilities.
Jesslynn’s horse sanctuary, Clay Station Ranch, sits on 23 acres of green pastures, upon which five barns house 40 stalls. The ranch’s two outdoor arenas allow riders to sharpen their skills under blue skies, and a lighted indoor arena features all-weather felt footing, irrigated grass turnouts, wash racks with hot water, viewing areas, and a riders’ lounge, where equestrians can kick back and relax after going on an exhausting ride or failing to teach the horses how to neigh in a British accent.
Situated along the banks of the Cosumnes River, Fog Willow Farms sows the seeds of laid-back living across 9 acres of tranquil farmland. The property is passionate about sharing its easygoing vibes with visitors, especially during autumn, when it transforms into an interactive playground for families to celebrate the season. Come October, Fog Willow Farms flourishes with rows of pumpkins ready to be inspected, fitted with a matching family sweater, and picked, and its petting zoo introduces guests to more than 100 farm animals. The facility also offers hayrides, weekend pony rides, and an adventure course, all of which can be enjoyed during casual visits or special events such as science farm field trips and birthday parties.
The press certainly likes California Family Fitness, granting the exercise venue such awards as a top spot on KCRA-3's 2012 A-List and Sacramento News and Review's Best of Sacramento 2012 Award. The press, however, isn't the top priority for the gym's staff; they believe that, to quote their about CFF page, “awards don't greet you at the door.” Instead, they depend upon their dedicated staffers at the front desk, chaperones at the Kidz Club play zone, and personal trainers to make families of clients feel at home. Certified personal trainers take aspiring exercisers of all ages through regimens that make use of the 16 available locations' ample workout machinery. Seasoned instructors, meanwhile, hold group fitness classes, free with a membership, fostering community as they incinerate calories during high-energy Zumba, step aerobics, Turbo Kick, and Hip Hop Hustle. Nine of the locations boast pools that host swim lessons taught by certified water-safety instructors.
While hitting the gym, parents can drop wee ones at childcare havens lined with playgrounds and age-appropriate investment manuals. After breaking a sweat on the exercise floor, clients can also shed excess body moisture in saunas and tanning beds.
The trainers at Muay Thai Lao Kickboxing Academy impart martial arts knowledge from both nations at the academy's Sacramento and Elk Grove locations, where punching bags line concrete walls and wait patiently for flurries delivered by padded fists. A full schedule of morning, afternoon, and evening kickboxing classes welcomes men, women, and children ages six and up. Kick-boxers of all skill levels can participate in muay-thai training to achieve a variety of personal goals, such as shedding weight or walking the path of muay-thai champion.
Golden Gourmet Catering proprietor Liza Kilgariff schools students in culinary techniques and a smorgasbord of regional cuisines during three- to four-hour cooking classes. Technique-based Thrill of the Grill sessions instruct tyros in the art of cooking comestibles over a flame, seasoning meats, and penciling singed eyebrows back in. Alternatively, embark on a culinary voyage with Szechuan, Mandarin, Hunan, and Cantonese fare in the regional Chinese class series, or learn to bundle Chinese tea dumplings in a dim sum class. Before journeying back to their collective kitchens or wood-burning toaster ovens, students sup on menu samplings and receive copies of the recipes prepared; at many evening classes, they can also purchase wines supplied by Grocery Outlet (not included in today’s Groupon).