Riding Horses

 Private Riding Lessons
 and Interaction with our Horses

How about riding on Hestar Ranch?

I offer private riding lessons for my guests, mainly for riders who would like to improve their leadership and riding skills on the trail.  The Workshop Vacation includes one riding lesson per day, but more riding is possible.

Your first lessons will be on the ground, so that you can learn about my philosophy with my horses. The rider must learn to respect the horse, and must be relaxed in order to have control over his own body before sitting on the horse.  It is important for you to understand your own body language and how the horse perceives it, as well as learning to relax and be flexible in order to follow the horse's movement.   Learning the horse's body language allows you to understand what the horse is trying to tell YOU.   Beginners will work primarily in the arena, as there are no shortcuts with horses--riders need to have confidence, knowledge, and a solid skill set before going out on the trail.

Our horses are sensitive and require a rider with awareness to go on the trails. 
We do not offer trail rides to inexperienced riders. 
Our goal is to help you understand a horse that is still a horse!


My main goal is to teach handling, groundwork and riding in a way that your teamwork is natural and tension-free, and without stress at all for the horse.

My philosophy is to teach my students how to become a loving and caring leader for the horse, one that works with the horse fairly and in friendship, and one that is all times fully aware of what he is doing.  This is the most important thing to learn with horses, to be aware of your own body, your body language and your behavior and what it does to the horse.
  When you learn to become a reliable leader, then you become your horse's best friend. You do not need to be the boss, you need to become the best friend of your horse! This starts with groundwork-- being in the saddle is a privilege after the horse accepts you as leader and friend, following you on its own free will without a lead rope.  We do not round-pen horses to tire them--we use freestyle play as the horse itself chooses. The horse is allowed to express itself and even leave us if we ask for too much.  We appreciate that and learn from the horse what it likes and can do with us.

I have a weight limit for riding my horses, because Icelandic horses are actually ponies and weigh only between 750-850 pounds.   See below for more information on weight limits.  Thanks for your understanding!

You can also bring your own horse here for lessons. 
I will help you improve your riding and leadership skills.  I'll teach you how to ride the gaits well and without tension; I teach riding with awareness and love towards the horse.  I can also help you to start your horse with groundwork and under saddle.  Please see my training videos below on starting horses.


With regard to the training of horses, my philosophy is different from most popular horse trainers.  While they use pressure, fear, dominance and repetition to tire the horse out, I use trust, confidence and understanding as well as the occasional treat!  I believe in teaching every horse every step without creating fear, giving the horse time so that it can understand and learn without stress and frustration.  We can learn so much from our horses if we learn to listen to what they say to us--they will become our best teachers.  When we learn to understand their language and their answers to our interactions, we can adjust our demands and requests so that we get a horse that likes to work with us.  This is what I want to teach to every student who comes here.

50 min. lesson for beginners in riding arena   $ 60.- 
1 hour lesson for advanced riders on the trails on property   $ 60.- 

 2 hour trail riding lesson   $ 100.-
(only available after a few 1-hour riding lessons so you have gotten to know the horse)

1/2 day trail rides with picnic in saddlebags, we load up (10 min. drive) and go ride along the Navaho Lake!   $180.-
(only available after a few 2-hour riding lessons and getting to know the horse)


About our weight limits and why I do this

For 1 hour rides, riders shall not be more than 160 pounds.  A saddle and other tack will be an additional 20+ pounds, so the most I will let the horses carry is 180 pounds.  This means the horse must carry a quarter of its own weight!  This is okay for a short ride where the horse is mostly walking, and the rider has good balance, especially on uneven terrain.


For 2 hour and longer rides, riders will not be more than 140 pounds.  With tack and gear, this will be about 160 pounds that the horse will carry, which is about one fifth/ 20% of its weight for a 800 pound horse.  This is especially important for a longer ride and when the horse travels at a faster gait.

It is also important to consider the rider's weight when purchasing an Icelandic horse.  When this is taken into account, horses stay healthy and happy, even into their senior years.