Board Member Spotlight

By: Betsy Kahl

The arena is more open than it ever has been thanks to the bigger, brighter skylights that were incorporated as part of the new roof design.  While the construction may have been a temporary inconvenience for boarders, myself included, it did help me appreciate all of the other great features we have to use:  a round pen for free lunging, trails (bug free for now) to meander down, and outdoor rings with great footing. We may have had to bundle up a bit more, but it was nice to ride with the snowflakes and see us all outside. Most importantly, my horse, Stuart, continued to receive excellent care and remained healthy and happy.

I know I am fortunate that the arena roof project did not halt my opportunities to ride. The same cannot be said for many of our amazingly talented and devoted students who have had to bear the unbearable and be sidelined.  To those students and their families, we thank you for your patience and understanding. I look forward to seeing you all back in the saddle soon.

Of course, canceling lessons means the barn took a financial hit during repairs. We are urging everyone to find ways to support our upcoming fundraiser, the Dusty Boots Derby Benefit, May 3, 2014 from 4:30 pm to 10:00 pm.  Invite friends to attend, secure donations, join a committee, volunteer to set up or take down for the event, and join us for the party!  If you have any questions about how you may help, contact the event chair, Michele Vonk at email: or phone us at 216-267-2525.

On behalf of the Valley Riding Board of Directors, thank you for being flexible and forgiving during our repairs. We can now enjoy April showers in a dry, leak free arena.


The Staff Spotlight – Margaret

By: Maria Sandy

This issue’s Spotlight on a staff member is featuring Margaret, the owner of Valley Riding Inc.  Let’s see what she has to say…

Our fearless leader Margaret started riding when she was eight years old at Parker’s Ranch in North Olmsted.  Now the area is property of the Wasmer family.  The first horse she rode was Silver, a gray horse, and her first lessons were in a western saddle.    Later she switched to an english saddle and as a kid mostly jumped.  In high school, Margaret rode at Valley Riding, but back then it was called Lakewood Stables.  Many of her riding friends were people you will still see around the barn today!   After college Margaret achieved a dream and bought her first horse, a Palomino, about 15.3 hands tall, named Apollo.  He was too beefy to jump, so she started riding dressage, as she does today.

Margaret’s greatest achievement was showing her horse Davinci, a Hanoverian, in the highest dressage level, Grand Prix.  Her most difficult achievement was moving a mountain of manure by hand with Marty!

It seems almost everyone has a favorite at VRI and Margaret is no exception.  Her favorite horse and pony at VRI are Scooter Pie, because he is so cute and Merlin because he can be in every level, ridden by kids that have never been on a horse to advanced lessons for kids and adults.  She says Merlin has a super great temperament- level-headed, kind, and gentle.

Margaret’s advice to her students is to try as hard as you can at all times and to remember that you are an athlete like your horse or pony.  You should know your horse, be sympathetic, and become a partner with your horse.  “You are all great riders and can accomplish great things.” ~ Margaret


The Border Spotlight – Rose and her horse Will

By: Maria Sandy

Rose started her life of horses at Valley Riding when she was nine years old, twenty-two years ago.  When Rose was young she also enjoyed figure skating, but at 11 years old she had to make a choice.  She chose horses!  The first schoolie Rose took to shows, was Polliwog.  She was also known as Polly, and she was a bay pony.  Her favorite schoolie is Jimmy.  When Jimmy arrived at VRI, he had been abused and was frightened and shy.  Rose helped Jimmy learn to feel safe and loved and to become a great school horse.

When Rose went away to college she rode on the Kent State Equestrian Team for a year.  After college she returned to Valley Riding and 11 years ago she purchased her current horse, William, from Brecksville Stables.  William, also known as Good Will, used to race at Thistledown race track when he was three and four years old.  He earned lots of second place finishes, because he did not like to run all by himself in first place.  He would slow down and let the other horses catch up.

Rose’s favorite thing to do with Will is play in the round pen.  He follows her with a cone or two.  He balances them on his lips.  Will has figured out how to open the gate to the round pen, so she has to watch him with an eagle eye and has come up with some creative ways to lock him in.  When Will gets bored in cross ties, he entertains himself by whirling his lead rope around in circles, rope tricks!

Will loves playing with cones!

Will loves playing with cones!

When asked about her favorite memory Rose could not come up with one moment.  She has most enjoyed seeing William’s progress over the years.  He has gone from a “crazy nut” to a horse who can do almost anything.  He has even taught others, like Sarah and Alex, the girls who currently lease him.  Will is loved by many.

On January 7, Will celebrated his 25th birthday with his favorite gals.  They enjoyed cake and carrots to celebrate a special horse and special relationships.  To quote Rose “I am very blessed to have such a wonderful horse!  He is truly one in a million!  Like the song says, “You’re my back bone, you’re my cornerstone.  You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.  You’re my headstart, you’re my rugged heart.  You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.” -Phillip Phillips  You have been there with me through all the ups and downs in life, and through all of it, you have kept me sane.”

Rose and Will

Rose and Will

Happy 25th Birthday to Good Will!

                   January 7th, 2014


The Horse Spotlight – Peaches and Cream

By: John Sandy

“Hi!  I’m Peaches.  My full name is Peaches and Cream but you can call me Peaches.  I am one of the roundest horses at the barn.  I am so round, I need the opposite side of the saddle to be held when a rider is getting on.  I also like to move at my own pace, taking my time, but my trot is very smooth.  I was born on May 27, 2000.   I am a paint, but you can’t see my spots.  Though if you look closer, I do have white spots under my chin.  This is because my mommy and daddy were paints (They had spots.).  I used to live with Pie in Pittsburgh until Valley Riding bought me.  Gotta go.  Now my friends have some memories to share.  Bye!”

“My favorite Peach story is in the summer, when I was helping with Horse Camp.  Sarah was teaching and we were waiting in line to trot.  Not everyone had a helper with them.  Peaches decided she was tired of waiting and trotting took too much energy so she started walking off.  She was going very slow but she didn’t stop.  Soon she was halfway across the arena when she was caught.” ~ John Sandy

“My favorite memory is when Peaches was walking down the aisle with one of the grooms and I was walking past her with a carrot in my pocket.  Peaches hurried toward me, grabbed the carrot out of my pocket, ate it, and walked back to the groom.” ~ Maria Sandy

“My favorite Peaches memory is when Emily and I went down the trail together with Peach and Pie.” ~ Molly Stothard


Peaches and Cream


The Pony Spotlight – Pudge

By: John Sandy

“Hi.  My name is Pudge.  I am the little paint pony in Pony Camp.  My best friends are Buttercup and Dusty Gold.  I got my name because I was too pudgy.  Now I am back to a normal size.  I like Pony Camp but not always the grooming part.  I get a little cranky and bored with all that standing around.  I was one of the original ponies here with Buttercup and Oreo.  Then I went to Brecksville, and now I am back in Rocky River.  My favorite spot to be itched is behind my ears and to have my mane gently tugged on.  Got to go. My friends would like to share a few stories about me now.  Bye!“

“My favorite Pudge memory is before I was involved at the barn.  All of the mares were turned out together and they were all running around and playing in the snow.  Pudge was just standing there watching the fun.  I think she was the referee in the game.” ~ John Sandy

“Pudge is my favorite pony.  When I first finished taking Pony Camps I was very sad that I would not be riding her anymore.  An instructor arranged for me to have a playdate with Pudge during volunteer training.  I came during a snowstorm, and it was just Pudge and I and Dusty and her helper walking down trail in the snow.  I got the best pictures of us that day.”  ~ Maria Sandy

“My memory is when I was able to pick Pudge’s feet on my own.” ~ Sarah Barry




English vs. Western Riding Disciplines

By: Alex Salmon

An equestrian sport is one that examines the bond and partnership between a horse and their rider.  There are many different disciplines.  Two main styles of riding are English and Western.  English and Western can be broken down into further categories.  English riding is different from Western, and vice versa due to the tack, breed of horse that performs best in the sports situations, the movements or gaits of the horse, and the rider’s attire.

English disciplines allow the horse to move freely.  Sports anywhere from Classical Dressage, which is commonly seen at Valley Riding, jumping which can also be practiced at Valley Riding, and racing are English disciplines.  English riding has a saddle that has a shallow to deep seat with a saddle flap, a pommel on the front without a horn as seen on the western saddle, and a cantle (back of the seat on the saddle).  The bridle in this section of riding is seen with a cavesson or noseband and reins that are bound together with a buckle.

English disciplines


Dressage is the English style of riding and training that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance.  “Training” is the English Translation of the French Word Dressage.  The goal is to take the horse through a series of precise movements by using quiet movements in your hands, legs, and seat.

Hunter/ Jumper

Hunter classes are judged on the physical look of the horse and their ability to move properly.  Jumping is based on points deducted for rails being knocked down or a refusal.  Time is also a component in the judging of show jumpers.  Jumping courses are slightly more complex than hunter courses, because as a rider you are not focused on appearance as much as clearing the fences in the least amount of time.


Eventing is a three day event that consists of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.


Polo is one equestrian sport played with teammates.  The objective is to score goals against the other team while on horseback.  To score a goal the players hit a small plastic or wooden ball with a mallet.  A polo team is made up of 4 players which switch out ponies that need to be rested for fresh ponies.

Thoroughbred racing

Many T.B’s are bred in the U.S. to be raced in the sport of thoroughbred racing.  However, this breed of horse has become popular in other disciplines besides racing.  Thoroughbreds run on either dirt, grass, or occasionally synthetic turf.  These flat races, hence the name, are run on flat ground typically on an oval shaped track.


This style of riding covers a wide range of set distances in which the rider has to beat the clock.  Riders guide their horses over natural terrain somewhat similar to “trail”.  Primarily Arabians are used for endurance riding due to their muscles allowing them to work for long periods at a time.

Western disciplines

Western dressage

Western dressage is a newly seen riding discipline.  The same methods and concepts of classical dressage are used to train a stock horse.  According to Western Dressage University, this does not mean taking a dressage horse and putting a western saddle on.  The same principles apply harmony, good horse- rider communication, and equine level of fitness.  These principles are used to improve or “train” balance, and carriage in the horse.


Trail classes are set based on obstacles the horse must encounter.  To be successful the horse must be willing, safe, and calm when completing these obstacles.  Many commonly seen obstacles include bridges, gates, and water.


This western style sport is where riders use the term neck reining to steer their horse in the direction that you want the horse to move. In this discipline the horse is taken through a series of patterns. Patterns seen are circles, sliding stops, backup, and spins.  Scoring is based on the execution and quality of the maneuver and the overall performance and attitude of the horse.

Barrel racing

According to Ralph Clark, barrel racing is a timed rodeo event in which the fastest time matters most.  Three barrels are set up at different marked places, the rider enters in at full speed and clears the barrels in a clover-like shaped pattern.  Automatic timers are used to measure the time down to the hundredth of a second.  The keys to winning are to avoid knocking over the barrels and get as close to the barrels as possible to reduce total time.  In the case that you do knock over the barrel you will get a 5 second penalty.

Event in Review – Fall Show Shenanigans

By: John Sandy

Of course the Fall show included many excellent rides, but the best news of all…  Cheerio remains apple bobbing champion!  Scooter Pie came a close second place, both chomping an apple in just over 1 second!  Some memorable bobbing techniques include swirling the water to create a whirlpool in the bucket, spraying water all over Margret, an attempt to drink all the water, grabbing and tossing, and simply inhaling the apples.

There were also some fun costumes in the Costume Class, including Freckles as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Sandy as a 101 Dalmation with Cruella DeVille, Prince William and Kate, Raisin as Duck Dynasty, Spanky and Theo as a racehorse and proud papa, Sheriff Scooter, Prisoner Cheerio, and Merlin the Skeleton.  All costumes showed great effort and all horses showed great patience and willingness to play along.

Overall, the show was a great weekend with many long hours to make it successful, involving many people.  We thank everyone who helped make it a success.

Hoofbeats - Spring 2014 - Google Docs

First Pony Quadrille Experience

By: John Sandy

I jump into the car one day
and to my whole family,
my mom announces, “You are chosen for the team!”
“YES!” Maria yells happily.

At the first practice,
I have a chance to meet the team.
They are all my friends you see,
so it is like it is a dream.

When we get our horses assigned,
I get the one who I want to get.
His name is Spanky, he is my favorite,
I think he is the best bet.

The Star Wars theme is chosen,
and we begin to learn the drill.
The weather is boiling hot today,
I don’t think we will ever catch a chill.

For the next couple months we practice hard,
the performance is coming up soon.
I just hope that no one falls,
and none of the ponies act like a loon.

It is the day of the benefit,
the day we perform.
The music starts to play,
into Jedis and Siths we transform.

When it is all over,
the crowd starts to roar.
On my pal Spanky,
I feel like I can soar!



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