Lessons

Nottingham Equestrian Center specializes in both dressage and jumping, with a strong emphasis on developing the rider’s position in a balanced and centered manner. Cheryl Connell-Marsh is the head instructor at Nottingham, with 30 years of teaching experience. In addition to her considerable teaching experience, Cheryl is also a nationally recognized judge in both dressage and eventing. Cheryl’s teaching style is a unique blend of classical dressage, centered riding and natural horsemanship.

At Nottingham, our teaching philosophy is based on first developing the rider’s position in terms of their own body balance, and then progressing to achieving this same balance while riding their horse. In order for a rider to effectively communicate their aids to their horse, they must first develop a secure, supple and strong seat, back, abdominal and leg muscles. Once the rider has established a secure and effective position, they can then begin to develop the horse’s physical training through Dressage basics. Through various exercises and movements, both horse and rider work to develop freedom and regularity in all three gaits (walk, trot, canter). Next, the rider works to improve the horse’s impulsion in terms of his desire to go freely forward from engaged haunches, with long elastic strides through a supple topline. After the horse’s impulsion is developed, the rider begins to improved the horse’s submission and connection into the bit with exercises that improve the horse’s bend and flexion as well as balance in transitions within and between the gaits. After the rider has developed a solid dressage foundation, they can then progress to higher levels of dressage, jumping, or other riding disciplines.

At Nottingham, riders improve both their physical and mental development. By “listening” to their horses’ every stride, the riders are able to communicate with subtle cues, and true harmony is achieved between horse and rider. Much like Tai Chi, horse and rider develop a form of riding meditation – staying focused and relaxed with both minds quiet and yet also aware. The wonderful part about riding is that it takes time and patience. When riders enter the barn, they are now on “horse time” – not modern time. When riders mount their horses, they thank them for the privilege they provide us. When riders leave the barn, they leave with a sense of peace and contentment for time well spent in the company of a horse.

With this training philosophy, our barn is as much about the care you give your horse before and after the lesson as it is about the time spent in the saddle. We strive to teach our students love, respect and patience for their horses and to realize that riding takes time and horses (like nature) cannot be hurried. Boarders and students are treated equally, and are given the same high-quality instruction. All of the horses at Nottingham – the boarders and the schoolies – are given the highest care and love – and it shows!

When you begin to ride at Nottingham, we ask that you complete at least one (1) half-hour evaluation lesson. Once this is completed, we may better place you in the proper group or lesson level. If you have never ridden before, this private lesson will help you start correctly!

Once evaluated, you may be placed in either Group lessons, Semi-Private lessons, or Private lessons. Group Lessons are one-hour sessions that consist of between four and six riders. Groups are generally restricted to young riders, beginning on our trusty lesson ponies. Semi-Private lessons are for a 45-minute session and are restricted to two riders at very similar levels of riding. Private lessons are half-hour sessions for individual riders.

Lesson Cost

Evaluation $45.00
Group $35.00 per person
Semi-Private $35.00 per person
Private $45.00

All lessons are payable at the time of the lesson, or pre-paid at the beginning of the month. Monthly packages may vary between $120 and $200 (depending on type of lesson and number of lessons per month) and is due on the first of the month. We understand that situations may arise which make it impossible to ride and we will be happy to reschedule, as long as the make-up lesson occurs within the same month.

Lesson Schedule

Monday – Friday: afternoons and evenings, Saturdays – all day

Lesson Etiquette

  • Always arrive at Nottingham at least 30 minutes prior to your lesson to groom and tack up your horse or pony.
  • Always plan on at least an additional 30 minutes after your lesson to un-tack your mount and put him/her away properly. (The horses and ponies always love extra grooming and even some grazing, if time allows!)
  • Parents should remain seated and are politely requested to observe only and not talk to your child during a lesson.
  • Give your horse or pony plenty of love and treats. Positive interaction with your mount is requested; negative attention (yelling, hitting, whipping, etc.) will not be tolerated.
  • Questions to the trainer by students are encouraged before, during, or after lessons. However, observers should limit questions and comments to before or after lessons not during.

All services begun in the middle of a month will be pro-rated. Checks are accepted, payable to Nottingham or NEC. If paying by cash, please be sure to place it in an envelope with your name, date, and what the amount is for on the outside. At this time, we do not accept credit cards. Various work performed around the barn can offset the cost of lessons, leasing, and board. Jobs that you may inquire about are morning and afternoon feedings and becoming a working student.

Student Lesson Card

A completed Student Card is required prior to the first lesson. This card may be printed Student Card and brought to the first lesson or will be provided to be filled out at the first lesson.

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