Passionate about helping riders with their horses, and horses with their riders
It wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I got involved with the sport of dressage. As a young rider, many of the local dressage trainers did not seem very welcoming to me, and often I would reach out and never hear back. This unfortunately halted my desire of perusing dressage, but then I met Patrick King of Patrick King Horsemanship and found my way into the sport. I then became his apprentice and dedicated my career to dressage. Within the first two years of riding dressage I earned my Bronze Medal with my beloved horse Winters. Within the first four years I earned my Silver Medal aboard my partner Cedric. We are currently still showing at the FEI level.
It is my mission to provide high quality dressage instruction to all ages, abilities, and disciplines. I am often helping many hunt seat riders fine tune their skills with the use of dressage, and it is a very fun process!
Why did i start KB Equestrian?
As a young horse lover growing up in CT, I could not get enough time with horses! I was fortunate enough to have parents that encouraged my passion and religiously took me to riding lessons. Unfortunately, despite horseback riding being my most favorite thing ever, I had a difficult time finding a barn I felt comfortable at.
I had a hard time fitting in because I didn't own my own horse so automatically I was cast out. I also didn't value showing as much as other girls my age....and the adults I adored and looked up to could barely look at me (except one, who became my "barn mom"). Despite all this, I kept showing up to the barn because I just loved the horses...and as soon as I climbed onto the back of my favorite school horse all my fears and worries went away.
But I started becoming frustrated because I didn't feel like I was being pushed by my instructor to progress. I wanted to learn more and I wanted to be a better rider but I didn't know how to tell my instructor without her getting mad at me. I mean, I rode for 8 years and still hadn't cantered? It wasn't until I actually stopped taking lessons, and started riding independently that I found myself becoming a better rider. This was a huge red flag!
I continued to navigate the horse world as a young adult and observed that the frustrations I had were not just custom to me...other riders also experienced a lot of the problems I faced as a horse lover. So I grew up and decided to dedicate my life to changing the riding school narrative.
Here are some of the values that I built my riding school around.
1. Social Culture
Riders should not be cast out of the barn social circle if they don't own their own horse, or if they don't show. Not everyone can afford to own their own horse or show, and that shouldn't reflect in the barn's social structure. Riders also should not be valued by their ability to jump a course of fences, or what dressage test they are schooling.
In my riding school we have zero tolerance for non-inclusive behavior, or an "I'm better than you" attitude. Riders are given a warning if this behavior is displayed, and if the behavior continues we unfortunately have to ask the student to leave. Yes, we sadly have had to do this, but my barn is a social sanctuary for horse lovers and has no space for "mean girls".
The same expectation is held for adult riders. I expect my adult riders to be role models for the younger generation. We do that through having fun and encouraging others.
And yes, I get it.... You don't have to love everyone and sometimes you have a bad day and take that energy with you to the barn....but being kind is a bare minimum.
One day, when I was about 10 or so, my mom was driving me home from my riding lesson. She had asked me how I felt I was doing and how everything was going. I sharply replied "fine". I couldn't tell her I was frustrated that I felt like I wasn't learning or progressing because I didn't want her to think I didn't absolutely LOVE riding, and run the risk of pulling me from riding. She replied back, "Really? It kinda looks like you're just going around in circles..."
And she was right. But I didn't know how to tell my instructor (or my mother) that I was disappointed and wanted to learn more because I didn't want to upset them.
In my academy I have implemented a rider curriculum where riders can progress under no pressure, and at their own pace. This helps keep both riders and instructors accountable for student progress. The curriculum is broken up into easy-to-understand levels so that students know what they should be working towards. We also have custom rider cards in our app where students can check off their milestones as they reach them, track lesson notes, and write down upcoming goals.
3. Equine Education
Any horse lover probably spends a good amount of time reading about horses, watching videos of horses, listening to podcasts, or any other channel available to learn about horses. I was no different growing up. I had spent countless hours reading, playing online horse games, and watching educational videos. I even belonged to a horse training video library "giddy up flix" which was like a Netflix for horse videos!
But when I was about 12 years old my instructor had asked me to hose my horse down after my lesson. Immediate PANIC set in, and I frantically looked at my mom for guidance. "Do I spray his whole body? What temperature should the water be? Are there any places I shouldn't spray him? How long do I spray him down?" were all questions that went through my head...and I had the answers to none of them. How is it that I had been riding for EIGHT years and had NO idea how to hose a horse down?! How does that happen??
One of the aspects of my program that I am most proud of is my weekly free horse education class. It is available to all my students completely free and is hosted the same day and time every week. In this class we cover assessing tack fit, equine history, different equestrian sports and their origins, first aid, nutrition, winter horse care, groundwork, equine anatomy, and yes...even giving a horse a bath
What I learned is that no matter how much you read about horses, they are very much a HANDS ON activity. This class encompasses classroom topics and converts them to hands on applications in the barn guided by professionals. This leaves our students knowledgeable and confident.
4. Equine Welfare
Ok, I get it. Horse care is much different than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. Saddle fit wasn't a well-known thing (and almost unheard of for school horses), if a horse got strong in the mouth we got a stronger bit, horses got fed a few flakes of hay two or three times a day, turnout wasn't a primary part of their care...and the list goes on. Fortunately, we have come very far from this standard of care and the above should have made you cringe.
School horses are the backbone to any riding program (literally). They deserve the best care and maintenance that we know how to give....and students need to witness this and understand it. Students need to understand the horse's digestive system and why they should be foraging 18 hours a day. Students should understand why turnout is important to a healthy horse. They should understand that horses aren't machines and normalize regularly scheduled time off. They should witness what good care looks like, and why anything less is abusive. They should be able to recognize good farrier work vs bad farrier work, healthy happy horses vs grumpy malnourished horses, and beyond.
Our school horses have free choice hay access, regularly scheduled time off (5 weeks a year, plus 2 days off every week!), routine saddle fitting, therapy blanket sessions, bodyworker appointments, chiropractic, top-notch farrier and dental care, and above all we educate our students on FAIR treatment at ALL times. Our students understand that a quick frustrated yank on your horse's mouth is an unjust act, and that our emotions affect our horses and we need to be responsible for ourselves in order to treat our horses fairly.
5. GOOD Instructors
I left countless lessons in tears. Not because I had fallen, not because I had a bad ride, not because I was mad at my horse...but because my relationship with my instructor was negative. I loved her and looked up to her...I wanted to be her. She was my role model. I get it...coaches need to push their students and sometimes tough love does the trick. But this was beyond tough love. And often, she would tell me to do things but I didn't understand...and her reaction to my not understanding was not great.
And I'm not alone. TOO MANY students come to my school with traumatic instructor stories. Instructors need to be accountable for not only student progression, but their students' emotional and mental well-being as well.
We use compassionate coaching, along with in-depth explanations so students understand what to do, why, and how. Yes, we are still there to push you through your self-limitations, but we will NEVER make you feel like less of a person for not understanding something, or not doing something quite right. We take that feedback and reflect in OURSELVES on how we can help you better. After all, that is our job.
All my instructors must also continue education in their own riding because I believe taking lessons from a dead-end road will lead you down a dead-end road.
Achievements & Qualifications
Patrick King Horsemanship Apprentice
Classical Dressage Certification through
CELG in Portugal
USDF Bronze & Silver Medalist
USDF Instructor Certification Workshops
& L Program Participant