Wed10222014

Community

Windy Hill equestrian program manager emphasizes inclusiveness


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Laura Gerst, right, has taught hundreds of students how to ride horses since becoming an equestrian instructor at Fremont Hills Country Club more than 15 years ago. She has a new role as facility manager. Pictured with Gerst are instructors Maja Lindemann, left, and John Wohr.

Long before Fremont Hills County Club grew into a community facility with tennis courts, a pool and a clubhouse, the property’s original owners built stables for their Arabian horses. More than 100 years later, the stables, including a fully equipped equestrian facility that offers local residents opportunities to ride and board horses, remain.

Although Windy Hill Equestrians Inc. owner and horse trainer Laura Gerst has taught hundreds of students how to ride horses since becoming an equestrian instructor at Fremont Hills County Club more than 15 years ago, she’s bringing the program full circle in her new role as facility manager.

“There’s always been a lesson program and shows,” said Gerst, who has years of Grand Prix Show equestrian jumping experience. “Now, we’re building one program that’s knitted together.”

With the recent leadership shift at Fremont Hills, new programming meets the needs of riders of all levels.

No experience necessary

Whether a child or adult picking up a bridle for the first time or an intermediate rider training for competition, the club’s roster of instructors trained in the world of professional riding work to personalize the experience for every rider.

“I like teaching people to understand their horses,” said instructor Maja Lindemann.

Lindemann said she takes pride in matching riders with appropriate equestrian partners, adding value to the riders’ experience.

Many of the 25-30 advanced riders are enrolled in the hunter jumper-training program and board their horses at the barn for convenience.

Those with little or no riding experience are just as welcome in the equestrian program at Fremont Hills.

Although club members receive discounts for the equestrian programs, any member of the public can enroll in riding programs at the facility.

Equestrians enrolled in private and small group lessons ride one of 12 horses permanently boarded at the stables if they do not own a horse of their own. Gerst said many of the lesson horses are retired show horses, hand selected by the equestrian faculty.

To offer young riders an entry point into the discipline, Fremont Hills inaugurated a new school program in March – the Windy Hill Equestrians staff now hosts camps for beginner through advanced riders. The one-week sessions include grooming, riding and classroom instruction that culminates in a horse show for family and friends. Prizes are awarded to recognize the hard work, dedication and personal growth of riders.

In addition to new riding opportunities, Gerst said Windy Hill Equestrians is overseeing numerous facility improvements at Fremont Hills. The riding arena has been surfaced with all-weather Pos-A-Trac footing and updates to an underused barn on site are currently underway.

“We want the place to be somewhere you can start riding and go all the way up to competition,” Gerst said.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit windyhillequestrians.com.


Windy Hill Equestrian - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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