What to Expect


Where we are based:

Learn with Smartie is based at Oak Farm, Maidensgrove which is located high in the beautiful Chiltern Hills.  We have 30 acres of rolling grassland with stunning views for miles and we are on the edge of Maidensgrove Common.  In the middle of our land is a charming bluebell copse with many ancient native trees and we will be able to ride through here as your child gains confidence and experience.  There are lots of surprises in the copse!

The famous Five Horseshoes pub is a few hundred yards up the road for thirsty parents/guardians or you may wish to stroll across the common and maybe exercise your dog or other children.

What we practise:

We practise Intelligent Horsemanship methods which promote understanding and fair treatment of horses at every opportunity – see http://www.intelligenthorsemanship.co.uk.

What we offer:

We will start by introducing your child to one of the ponies and then progress to putting him or her into the saddle.  We will then go for a gentle walk around our arena where your child will get the feel of what it is like to sit on a pony and feel him move underneath him or her.  We then play a few games so that the children relax and have some fun.  Most children have a little trot during their first ride.

Taster sessions will last 10 minutes and are a good way of finding out whether your child would like to continue or whether riding is not for them.  Some children may need two or three taster sessions until we can all decide whether to carry on.

Longer sessions will last 20 minutes and we will start to play more games, involving leaning/reaching/stretching etc which helps to develop confidence and balance.  In due course, we will progress outside the arena into our our fields and ride through our little copse.

Even longer sessions will last approx 30 minutes and can involve riding out on to Maidensgrove Common; maybe a visit to the duck pond; or a ride along one of our local tracks through the adjacent Nature Reserve.  The roads around us are very quiet but we tend to ride off road.  60 minute sessions are also available.

Summer Hacks of 1 or 2 hours are available on request.

Children with learning or physical disabilities are welcomed as sitting on a pony provides a wonderful therapy and I ran the Maidensgrove Riding for the Disabled Group for many years.

A parent or appropriate person should remain with the child for the first few sessions.  Once a child understands what riding is about, then we may decide that we will go it alone.

Parents/guardians must remain with children under the age of 4 years – this is an insurance requirement.

Part of the learning experience in the longer sessions will involve some simple exercises on board the pony – these help to teach the child to be independent of the saddle and bridle – and we will also learn some parts of the pony and of the tack.  There will be opportunities also for the child to learn how to brush the ponies and how to pick out their feet – all under close supervision.  Learning about general care and feeding of the ponies is also available.

Fun activities are organised during school half-terms and holidays and these have included ‘Easter Egg Hunts’; ‘Half-Term With Smartie’; ‘Summer With Smartie’; ‘Halloween With Smartie’; and ‘Christmas Fun and Games’.  The half-term and holiday activities cover many aspects of pony care, working through our carefully designed syllabus with rewards at all stages.

We have various types and sizes of saddle to suit all ages and sizes of child – there are handles/straps on each saddle for the children to hold to help them feel more secure to start with.  Safety stirrups are always used.

Everything will be geared towards safe fun!

When you can ride – subject to availability and daylight:

  • Term Times – Wednesday; Thursday; Friday morning; Saturday; Sunday
  • Half-Term and School Holidays – weekdays only, subject to other holiday activities in progress

During the summer months, after school riding is available and this may free up your weekends for other activities!

Comments are closed