Our most popular non-academic program is horseback riding, where children not only learn to ride, but also develop new skills, confidence and horsemanship through riding lessons, responsibility in caring for the horses and horse show competitions. The program is an integral part of Oakland’s mission to foster a love for learning and to grow as an individual and community member. All students at Oakland have the opportunity to ride at no additional cost to families.
Approximately 60-75% of our students participate in the riding program. During Winter School, classes are scheduled based on previous experience and riding ability. We have a variety of beginning riders and those with more experience. Typically, students will ride a particular horse for the duration of the year. Horses and riders are matched by size, experience and personality. This personalized approach encourages a special bond between the horse and rider. Time at the barn includes grooming, tacking and structured lessons. Riding fundamentals are the primary focus at Oakland. It is important for students to understand horse terminology, riding equipment and use, safety procedures and general horse care. Students begin with learning how to groom and tack their horse correctly. Students will walk, trot and canter, as appropriate to their riding level.
For more skilled riders, Oakland offers an Advanced Class. These students have mastered the prior levels and practice cantering and jumping. The year culminates with a drill performance in which horse and rider participate in an intricately choreographed show. This show takes place at the end of the summer semester.
During Summer Camp, students have the opportunity to ride every other day in a regular camp class. Similar to winter school, classes are scheduled based on experience and ability and horse and rider are paired based on size, experience and personality. On average, students will ride two-three hours each week. Our advanced riders will ride each weekday, for a total of five hours per week. All riding students have the opportunity to participate in our annual Summer Horseshow!
An important part of the Oakland riding program, barn work ensures that our equestrian friends receive special care after their lessons. Barn work allows students to have a greater understanding of the important responsibility of caring for animals. Students participating in barn work have a variety of responsibilities including grooming, cleaning stalls and general horse care. Some barn work positions are paid and students will receive earnings at the end of each semester. All barn workers are recognized and rewarded for their contrition and dedication to the barn at annual spring and summer award banquets.
An Oakland tradition for over 20 years, Horse Holiday is a unique event that honors our equine friends for their work and dedication to Oakland. Dressed in festive holiday attire, the horse and riders parade from the barn to the school yard where a holiday tree adorned with carrots and apples awaits. This favorite event of staff, students and locals is a treasured Oakland tradition.
Sarah Bailey, Oakland’s Equestrian Program Manager, has been a horsewoman for 25 years. She has worked in the Oakland Equestrian Program for 21 years and she’s been the Equestrian Program Manager for 9 years. Sarah is well-known and respected in the local riding community. Sarah is selective with the horses in our program for the safety of our student riders. Our horses are well cared for and get plenty of love from the students and instructors. Oakland has a 16-stall barn, approximately 40 acres of fenced pasture and several beautiful trails throughout our 450 acre property.