Horseback-riding lessons came into vogue during Hollywood's Golden Age, when producers of Westerns realized that John Wayne was too heavy to be supported by a tapir. Make the Duke proud with today's Groupon: for $55, your favorite junior jockess gets the Princess Pony package, an equestrian mash-up for ages 6–14 that includes one 60-minute pony-grooming session and two 30-minute riding lessons, at Shenanigans Farm in Oxford (a $130 value).
Under the watchful guidance of a dedicated, experienced mentor fluent in secret horse vibes, two riding lessons at Shenanigans Farm will introduce pint-sized monarchs to the basics of English-style riding—a both-hands-on-the-reins style that incorporates a flat saddle for greater freedom of equine motion and ease of issuing proclamations. Riders learn how to brush, tack, and safely care for the majestic mammals in a one-hour pony-horsemanship session before saddling up for either session of roughly 30 minutes of one-horsepower gallivanting. Shenanigans instructors tailor their coaching to fit the goals and skill level of each rider, be they a novice steed steerer or a resident of Rohan.
The Shenanigans Farm equine academy is located on 62 rolling acres of riding grounds, including two riding arenas, one outdoors among nature's splendor, and another indoors, safely protected from the elements when they throw a temper tantrum. With weather no hindrance, riders are free to train for the season’s steeplechases, fox hunts, and surprisingly gory Nerf jousts.
Shenanigans Farm’s owner, Mary McKiernan, has more than 30 years of experience working with horses. But she has also tamed an even wilder beast: eighth-grade students. As a middle-school teacher, she learned to work with each student at his or her own pace, a philosophy she transfers to horseback-riding lessons. Joined by assistant head trainer, Ricci Tarockoff, she teaches English-style riding to students of all skill levels.
Set on 62 rolling acres, Shenanigans Farm connects to the Metamora Hunt trail, offering myriad opportunities for scenic trail rides. Its horses graze in expansive pastures and paddocks, waiting for students to saddle them to trot around the large indoor or outdoor arenas. The farm maintains a family-oriented vibe, often hosting summer camps for boys and girls, Halloween parties, and costume contests to see who can dress as the most convincing bale of hay.