A nonprofit organization committed to therapeutic riding, Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center introduces riders of all ages and ability levels to the health-boosting benefits of riding and caring for horses. During private and group lessons, instructors certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship and the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association teach budding equestrians the ins and outs of both English- and Western-style riding. They also conduct summer camps for children, where they coach tots through lessons in general horsemanship, jumping, or rodeo riding. Riders can also lease one of the center's horses to facilitate riding practice, introduce children to the equestrian arts, or take their place at a dinner party.In addition to general riding lessons, instructors foster concentration, self-perception, and confidence in those with physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities during special riding programs designed to equip participants with practical skills. Programs build confidence using centered riding techniques, which encourage riders to use intuition to move more fluidly with their horses rather than relying on formulaic motions or commands.
Fetch is a hub of feline and canine accouterments in the Old Port, employing a user-friendly retail experience for both two-legged and four-legged shoppers. Buckets of toys, bones, and frisbees greet dogs at snout-level, and a broad range of pet food targets human eyes. Locally produced munchables include Barkwheats hypoallergenic treats from Litchfield ($7.99) and Hula Lula chicken jerky from Marblehead, Massachusetts ($13.99). Take your pick from an entire wall of collars, many of them locally made, for animals in sizes ranging from teacup to Disneyland teacup ride. Cat owners can stock up on the FroliCat Bolt laser toy ($19.95), a randomly patterned laser pointer sure to captivate furry friends for hours. Today's Groupon can also be used for gift certificates, ideal for presenting to pet fanciers in honor of their companion's graduation from obedience school with a master's degree in rolling over.
Situated on 25 wooded acres located next to the Taylor River, Taylor River Farm uses its beautifully bucolic space as a school for teaching students correct horsemanship and riding form. The Lesson Academy offers individualized instruction to students of all ability levels under the guidance of head instructor Kristin Farley, who has trained numerous world champions over a riding career that has spanned more than 25 years. The barn's heated indoor arena features a viewing room from which spectators can view a pupil's lessons in Hunt Seat, Saddle Seat, or Western. In addition to riding properly, students learn how to groom and tack up their lesson horse, as well as how to communicate with the horse telepathically.
Hunter’s Haven Farm sprawls across multiple acres of verdant farmland in Groveland, fostering a bucolic atmosphere dedicated to teaching equestrian riding techniques in lessons for riders 8 and older. The center’s two horse whisperers call upon three decades of training and riding experience to coach students in the center’s dual riding modalities, hunt seat and dressage. Hunt seat displays the horse’s prowess while running flat or jumping over small hurdles, and dressage showcases the horse’s natural impulses, whether running freely with a rider or stopping to vote “neigh” on a potential future of donkey riding. The farm’s facilities encompass an indoor arena, cross-country fences, and a galloping track. Students can also guide their steeds around a lit outdoor ring or practice circuits around the onsite dressage ring during private or group sessions. Children can experience guided pony rides and natural interactions with ponies, goats, pigs, and a philosophical saddle at Hunter’s Haven Farm’s petting zoo.
Rondo, the de facto host of Grooming at Tiffany's, happily greets every guest with a hardy handshake. Or if not that, perhaps an exuberant tail wag, an offering of chew sticks … something that lets visitors know they're welcome. The amiable shih tzu-poodle mix belongs to owner Tiffany Perron, who styles canines with the skills she developed at the Dapper Dawg School of Professional Dog Grooming. She and her fellow groomers provide an array of services, from crate-free full groomings to quick touchups for dogs facing short-notice job interviews.
The sunny, green expanse of Gaston Farm is designed to be inviting place, whether for horses looking for a cozy stable or for students looking to learn the ways of the saddle. Riders make use of the ranch's indoor and outdoor arenas. During lessons catered to all experience levels, certified instructors start novices out with horsemanship fundamentals, encouraging them to advance their skills and eventually compete in any of the variety of shows the farm participates in regularly.