Scholarships help families get involved in riding classes

The Sandy Community Center often introduces residents and their families to local classes and activities. As the summer comes to a close, so are many of the classes offered. But one group of kids is enjoying outdoor fun as long as possible, with a horsemanship class.

Iris White has been teaching riding lessons from her ranch for about 10 years. Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - When starting out, horsemanship students work in the arenas of the ranch. Eventually they are ready to ride out on the 40 acres of trails.

Northwind Ranch offers horsemanship classes for youths and adults in beginning, intermediate and advanced categories.

White’s youth classes are offered to students ages 9 to 18, but in the future, she is expanding to create opportunity for even younger horse lovers. Northwind Ranch soon will begin offering lessons to ages 8-12.

Adults classes are available to those 18 and older.

Students are required to have their own fitted riding helmet and boots.

White teaches students how to be the best riders they can be. She teaches in a mostly Western style, but occasionally will help students with English style as well.

At the beginning of a class, students learn how to groom and take care of the horse. They even learn how to put on and remove a saddle and learn all of its parts.

“So many kids think they’re just going to get on a horse and ride,” White said. “But they don’t know the parts of the horse and don’t know the parts of the saddle.”Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - From left, Makayla Stoker, Audrey Gale, Emily York, Iris White and Macy Maul pose with Blue and Sammy after a lesson.

When students begin riding, they are taught to focus on sitting up straight and learning how to control the horse safely.

White has eight riding horses at the ranch, each around 12 to 14 years old. Although the horses at Northwind Ranch are all well trained to work with beginning riders, students must learn how to ride in the manner that will keep them safest.

White spends time correcting student’s posture, making sure that they’re in the right position to help them remain safely in the saddle. “Remember, girls,” she said to her Wednesday afternoon beginners class, “safety is everything.”

Once students master the basics in the arena, they are taken out into the field to have some fun. White said it takes about two months to get to that point.

Northwind Ranch has 40 acres of paths, trees and even a pond.

White said one of the most exciting parts of the class is when students get the chance to ride out in the field. Photo Credit: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - White focuses on teaching the girls posture at the beginning of a lesson.

She said horsemanship classes give kids something to look forward to, and keep their interests away from unhealthy things.

White encourages her younger students to be polite and courteous to their peers. “Just basically being good kids,” White said.

“Which we already are,” added Emily York, an intermediate student of White’s who has been with her for several years.

“I just love doing it,” White said. “My passion is to have the kids have fun and not be in trouble.”

White says her program is one of the more affordable at only $80 a month.

“So many kids want to take lessons but can’t afford it,” White said.

But through the city, there is the possibility for even more kids to get the opportunity to develop a passion for horses. White’s program offers limited scholarships for families in need.

For more information, call White at 503-668-5083.

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