"Just got back from our first trail ride with Jenna in her full-cheek snaffle bit (instead of her short shank that we USED to ride in). And no spurs. Jenna & I have been working in our yard since our return from Sierra Vista 2 weeks ago – didn’t ride last weekend due to the big blizzard up here, but today was perfect trail-riding weather. We did a 5.5 mile loop forest trail not far from my house, fairly rocky in parts and with quite a few hills, so our horses got a good work out.
I was the first to arrive at the trailhead and had Jenna out & tied to the trailer as the other 3 members of our posse arrived – 3 friends with whom I ride frequently, either all together or in various pairings. Total of 3 mares and 1 gelding. Jenna stood quiet as a lamb at the trailer as everyone arrived – I didn’t even need to “bite” her or shove her over or anything! It was wonderful!
We got saddled and organized. I worked her on the ground a little getting her hind foot under her, circling both directions. Walked her a bit, stopped, turned, etc. Good as gold. Walked her out on the trail a little bit and climbed on her from a big rock, then worked her from the saddle. NICE turns on the forehand both directions, good stops in her snaffle bit and nice bends, all with a light touch. My friend Carol said at that point, “Barb, you look like a different rider – you are just radiating confidence! What did that guy down in Sierra Vista do?” So I gave her a run-through of our lessons, things I’d learned, how my riding has improved. And how much fun I had. (By then I had also showed everyone the tips Al had given me about leading her and “biting” her for negative behavior, as we walked out to the trail. New to everyone.)
The trail ride was great. I “rode” Jenna every step and did a much better job of keeping her attention focused on me. Asked her for lots of bends and moves, trying my best to remember to just jiggle the rein and not pull, and to ride with my seat. At one point in the trail (as we were slightly turning towards home), she got antsy & jiggy when one of the other horses (a 6yo Thoroughbred mare) got antsy & jiggy, but we just did a few turns on the forehand in different directions, some stops & starts, and she settled down very nicely. One of the other riders said, “Wow, Barb, those lessons were worth every penny!” I heartily agreed! What was especially nice was that I felt so comfortable & confident that I didn’t get scared at all; I knew exactly what to do when she started “doin’ her thing,” and I’m sure that helped Jenna too.
We have lots more rides and trips planned, now that the weather is nice up here (88 degrees here now – a week ago I was plowing our driveway through 4-ft drifts!). Jenna & I will continue practicing and working and HAVING FUN! Thanks again for everything – I am one happy cowgirl! Happy Trails!" – Barb
"I would recommend Al's Horse Academy to anyone needing their horse trained in any discipline. My horse, Sweet Spot, was at Al's Horse Academy from 22 Feb – 22 Mar 2010. She is four years old and never under a saddle. Al trains with a passive approach. Al worked with my horse on the task until there was a clean understanding by her of the task. He improved the mental aspect of learning for my horse which allowed my horse to reach my desired goal for her during her stay. Her understanding is evident now that I have her back home. My horse not only learned, she matured. We have a long way to go and AL has given Sweet Spot the foundation that will ensure she will be a fantastic riding horse for the trail, round ups, or pleasure." - Lamont P.
"Looking for a horse friendly hauler and not a truck driver with a trailer, that could bring my Dutch Warmblood and myself 900 miles from Elgin, Arizona, a mutual friend gave me Al’s name. From the very first contact on the phone, till the end of the trip in Texas, Al showed me he is a not only a horse friendly guy, but also a great driver and has a good spirit and sense of humor. I enjoyed the trip. I recommend Al to anyone who wants his horse transported as Al is a safe driver, fun to be with and he keeps his word." - Ineke R.
"Shannon Stewart is a brilliant horsewoman who can translate her knowledge and expertise to any level of rider. Somehow she manages to be friendly and likeable and at the same time spurs her students on to new challenges. Shannon comes to every lesson with a game plan and does not waste a minute of time. Her training is very personalized to the needs of the particular student. She also keeps it fun and motivating. If you want a top notch instructor you cannot go wrong with Shannon. One caveat: stick with it and your inspired riding might incur the envy of those around you!" - Susan B.
"My name is Libby and I am a physical therapist who has worked in the therapeutic riding world for approximately 18 years. My family is very excited about our horse Angel. She was given to us by my father as a yearling and we thought she might be a good barrel horse, but that was not to happen. God had another mission for Angel. She was trained by Al and Shannon so that she could be used as a therapy horse for my 2 daughters. Melissa was born with cerebral palsy and has been riding for 18 years. She rode her sister's horse, Jinx and her own horse Cowboy for years, but both horses are now up there in age and are very happily retired. My oldest daughter, Darian, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, was in a horrible car accident 4 years ago and lay in a coma for 7 months. She is now on the road to recovery and Angel is a very valuable tool in her recovery process. Al and Shannon did an amazing job in her training and I highly recommend them for training horses to work as therapeutic riding horses. Melissa has ridden Angel many times and each time I am amazed at how well Angel and Melissa both do. We have also put Darian on Angel many times, and she is the perfect hippotherapy horse for Darian. Thank you Shannon and Al. We are very grateful for all the love, time and care you put into training Angel for a very special purpose." - Libby A.
“Excellent! Al’s Horse Academy is professional. My child learned so much in just a few days. We highly recommend this camp in order for your child to get an authentic experience.” - Amanda B.
“Coming three times to the horse camp says it all. Thank you Al and staff.” – Maria S.
“Aiden’s favorite thing was riding; her least favorite thing was nothing. She loved it all and she says she really appreciated the experience.”
“Horse camp is the best place on earth.” – Jill P.
“Kasey had a wonderful time and she will be back. Thank you for making it so nice for her and the other kids.”
“My twelve year old son who is ‘less than enthusiastic’ about doing anything that doesn’t involve video games actually came up to me to tell me that ‘he really was having a lot of fun and that he was thinking about coming back again!’” Trust me, coming from him, that comment alone speaks volumes!!! He really enjoyed himself and felt very proud of his accomplishments! Thank you all. Keep up the good work!” – Christie O.
“My nine year old informed me that she had ‘the best week ever!!!’. She can’t wait to go again, but until next camp she would like to start on lessons. Thank you all for an incredible job and providing such a positive experience she can build on. Awesome job!” – Christie O.
“Al, you ROCK!! We will be back” – Jennifer M.
“They kids both had a wonderful week at camp. As we were pulling away on the last day, they both said they were going to miss horse camp. We assured them they can return for lessons and a future camp.” – Megan T.
“I had a lot of fun, but it was also hard work. I learned a lot about horses. It inspired me in my love of horses. As the week went on it became more and more fun (despite any yucky smells). The horses were really nice and the snacks were good.” – Katia J.
“I am very glad Katia attended the horse camp. She had fun, but also learned that horses were a lot of work. For me, the best comment my daughter made that was, ‘Horses are a lot of work. I know I am not ready for the responsibility of owning one.’ Until she is ready to own her own horse I will happily continue to send Katia to Al’s Horse Academy for horse camp and riding lessons. Thank you for teaching Katia all the different aspects of a horse!” - Alisa J. (Katia’s mom)
“It was great. She was excited to be a part of the camp. I have never seen her so excited about camp. She learned something new every day and camp home anxiously awaiting the next day of camp. I Would definitely recommend!!!”
“Cayla has enjoyed Al’s since 2011 and has benefitted.” – Shin A.
“Outstanding” – Susie C.
“My children had a wonderful time. They were so happy to learn about and ride horses. I would like to set up some riding lessons for my daughter.” – Joddi H.
“I liked how every camp has different crafts and that you learn something new every time. All the horses are well trained and have different personalities. Thank you.” - Vanessa F.