Most little girls just LOVE horses. They play with their Breyer ponies and grow up wishing for real ones. If they are lucky, a friend or neighbor will have horses and maybe they get a chance to start hanging around a barn, helping here and there, trading mucking for riding or lessons. But for girls who have no horses in their life at all, it’s nice to know there are other options, like the Girl Scouts and Brownie Horsemanship Program being taught by Esther Hillner of Talisman Farm. Currently underway at the D Bar D Ranch in the northwest part of town, Hillner and her assistant trainers AnnaMarie Heasley and AnnMarie Corey conduct a twelve-week class for those looking for hands-on learning about horses. For some girls, like 10-yr old Destini who had never been around horses before, it was a dream come true.
Lifelong equestrian and professional trainer for over a decade, Hillner focuses her classes on care and understanding of horses. “I’ve tried to make my program unique to Las Vegas by putting a focus on education about horses, not just the riding. It’s important for people to understand that horses are not machines but living creatures with individual personalities that make them truly unique. ” In the two-hour class each Saturday or Sunday, the girls are taught from the ground up about horses. They learn feeding and safe handling, anatomy and First Aid, mucking and grooming, and eventually adding tack properly. Says one mother watching her 13-yr old participating today, “the girls learn that you don’t just show up at a trail ride and get on. They learn how much work [a horse] is.” When ready, they move on to the basics of riding, beginning with proper mounting and dismounting.
Talisman Farm has six horses in their program to accommodate different riding levels. Today, “Norma” was working patiently at the walk with girls in one part of the arena while “Boomer” was stepping up to the trot with some more advanced riders. Both horses were on longe lines most of the time with a trainer or assistant only a step away. The wind was blowing fiercely but the horses were absolutely calm. Norma is 20 yrs old and was previously a therapy horse in New York, after a career in all levels of dressage and showing on the "A" hunter circuit. Boomer is the senior citizen at 32 yrs old and joined the program from another riding facility in town. Says Hillner, “We don't discriminate against age in our lesson horses as these two are worth their weight in gold. They’re patient with the children and will do anything for cookies.”
This program is offered year round through the Girl Scouts of Nevada except during the heat of midsummer. Any girl age six to 18 can enroll, and they do not have to be active scouts. After paying the $12 membership fee, they will be considered “independent Scouts” and eligible for the discounted programs offered through the Club. Founded in 1912 the mission of this venerable organization is to empower girls and teach values. They accomplish this through activities like camping, community service and achieving proficiency in specialty outdoor skills such as horseback riding. The Girls Scouts has been ranked as one of the most popular non-profits in America and many girls may be surprised to learn that popular actresses Dakota Fanning, Reese Witherspoon and singer Mariah Carey were scouts.
Talisman Farm provides everything the riders need except for boots. For more information on this class, click HERE or call Monica Llefevre at 702-385-3677. Talisman Farm also offers vaulting instruction, college horsemanship classes, discounted riding through Horses4Heroes, and Pony Club participation in addition to private and semi-private lessons. Click HERE for more information.
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