Frequently asked questions
Where are we located?
We are located on the same property as the Youth Farm Bible Camp and Youth Farm Corn Maze. We are located across highway 11 from the town of Rosthern, SK
What do I need to wear for lessons?
Dress for the weather that day. We have an indoor arena, which we use in the winter and if it's too windy or stormy in the summer. (In the summer we try to ride outside as much as possible to appreciate the great outdoors!) The indoor arena is not heated, so in the colder months dress in layers. Dress as if you are going to the ski hill (mitts with thin gloves underneath, ski pants, a thin headband to fit under the helmet, warm jacket, etc.) Being warm is important.
What equipment do I need for lessons?
We provide riding helmets. All riders under 18 must wear a helmet. It is strongly recommended that all riders wear helmets. All jumpers must wear helmets. We provide all necessary equipment for our lesson horses. If bringing your own horse you must provide your own tack.
Why do I need to pay for lessons in advance?
We require that all students pay for the month of lessons at the start of each month (lessons are booked on a monthly basis) Once you are scheduled in for a lesson time, that lesson time is reserved for you. We often have a waiting list of people, and when a spot opens up for a lesson, you are not the only person who would appreciate that opportunity. By paying in advance, we are making the payment process easier for you (less hassle than having to remember to pay at the start of every lesson), and we are also encouranging commitment and continuity - both of which lend to more value to you in your riding journey.
What is the cancellation policy?
In respect for your time, other VEC students time, and our instructors time, no shows and last minute cancellations are NON REFUNDABLE. When people no-show or cancel, it is not only frustrating for our instructors who have already planned their day around your lesson, and planned a lesson plan personally for you - but it also means that another person could have been in that lesson spot who may have made a stronger commitment to attending. Therefore, missed lessons are on you and any missed lesson is charged to your account.
How do I pay for lessons?
We accept credit cards (this is the most hassle free option for you!) We also accept e-transfer, cheque and cash.
What lesson times are available?
We teach Monday to Saturdays, daytime and evenings. Our earliest lesson time starts at 9 a.m. and the latest 8 p.m. Group lessons are given priority to our evening time slots, as this is peak lesson time, and private lessons are scheduled during the day. Once you have been assigned a coach, the coach will work with you to determine a lesson time.
Is horse riding expensive?
There is a perception that riding is an elite sport. Here at VEC we have worked hard to make riding affordable. For example, piano lessons cost on average around $40 per lesson. A piano instructor has little to no overhead to cover. When you pay for riding lesson, you are paying to help keep your lesson horse fed and in good health (vet bills, medication, regular farrier, deworming, training, chiropractor, massage, etc), as well as the cost of the indoor arena and the property, maintenance of property (fixing fences, clearing snow from parking lots and driveways, etc) the equipment your horse uses for the lesson, and here at VEC for the highly trained staff who teach you your lesson. We provide opportunities for highly committed students to ride more often (leasing, working off rides)
How do group lessons work?
A group lesson is 3-5 people. We aim to fill all group lessons. If you are completely new to horses, we will place you in a group with others who are also new to horses. Sometimes this means you may to wait a few weeks to a month until we have enough new beginners to form a group. If you have previous riding experience then we must get to know you and your riding ability before we fit you into a group. We have groups of varying ages to skill levels, and there is often a group that will suit your needs. If not, you are welcome to continue private lessons until we find a compatible group.
What age do you teach?
We teach ages 3 to 100! You are never too old to learn! And we have many safe and gentle lesson horses. We are also able to take on younger students than most other facilities, and we have great ponies for children! We offer a special 1/2 hour lesson package for children 5 and under.
How do I know what riding level I am at?
Riding ability is on a spectrum, and there are no "hard lines" to determine the difference between a beginner to an intermediate to an advanced rider. However, generally speaking a beginner is someone with no experience to someone who may be able to walk, trot, and canter. A person with no formal training or a person who may have had training but still feels "barely in control" of the canter would be a beginner. An intermediate rider will have definitely had some form of formal education and has a wider understanding of riding a horse off of leg pressure and seat, some lateral work and the ability to easily control a horse at the canter. An advanced rider is someone who has a combination of the following: competes at competitions, has formal education, rides regularly, most likely leases or owns their own horse.
What if I am scared to ride?
That is ok! And you are not alone. There are many people out there who love horses but have had a scary experience in their past that has settled in their memories and caused them to have a lot of anxiety and fear when around horses. Our staff have formal training on dealing with anxiety and fear, and helping people to manage them. Our lesson horses are also very well trained, calm, and experienced working with people who are feeling anxious or fearful.
I have heard horses can help people who are dealing with anxiety, depression, fear, low esteem, trauma, grief... is this true?
Yes! Most certainly so! Every year there is increasingly more scientific and anecdotal evidence proving the effectiveness of equines for multiple therapeutic purposes. Our staff have training in using horses as a therapeutic modality. Cheralyne is a Recreation Therapist and an Equine Assited Learning Facilitator and Kim is a Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association Certified Instructor. Our main focus in our entire equestrian program is to improve student's quality of life. Even if you are only coming to ride horses! We are here for you and so are our horses!
I know nothing about horses, is VEC right for me?
Yes! We have a great beginner program with qualified staff and well trained, safe horses.
I know a lot about horses and have been riding for years, is VEC right for me?
Yes! Our coaches have extensive experience in a variety of disciplines. We have several lesson horses who can perform more advanced maneuvers, and we also encourage advanced riders to bring their own horses for lessons. (There are also boarding opportunities for riders in our program who own their own horses)
I have my own horse and ride on my own regularly. Why should I take riding lessons?
Riding is a lifelong journey and there is no "top". There is always more to learn. As one option, The Equestrian Canada Learn to Ride Program is a fun and interesting way for riders who may have been riding their entire lives, but have never had the opportunity to seek professional guindance, to test their skills and learn something new and exciting! Or maybe you want to try a new discipline? Or fix a problem you have been with your horse for a long time but didn't know what to do about it. Or maybe, you just want to learn more about your horse and discover his hidden talents!
How long will it take me to be a professional?
Professional horse people have put in many long and hard hours to get to where they are at. They have also put in the grit and difficult work it takes to make riding look "easy". Like all professional sports, riding is harder than it looks. To be a professional isn't for the faint of heart. It takes YEARS of hard work and commitment, and to specify, professionals ride every day and often multiple horses a day to get where they are at. This journey will change from person to person based on factors such as: commitment, work ethic, formal education (riders in a lesson program advance exponentially faster than riders attempting to go it on their own), mindset, and physical capabilities.
How long will it take me to learn to jump?
This is another question where the answer will depend on the individual's work ethic, talent, and education. As a rule of thumb, a rider is not ready to jump until they can canter in an English saddle with no stirrups. Riders must also have an idependent seat, meaning that they do not rely on holding onto the reins, mane, or neck strap for balance, and have good control over their body parts (no bouncing hands, or weak wobbly floppy legs). Riders must be strong on the flat before they attempt jumping. If you are new to riding, expect a year plus of regular riding lessons before you attempt your first jump.
Is horse riding exercise?
Absolutely! When you are sitting on a horse and it is walking, your body also moves in a way that mimics you walking (this is why riding is great for people who have movement deficiencies - paralysis, cerebral palsy, etc). It takes great leg and core strengh to balance on a horse at the faster gaits. Riding also takes stamina as you begin to perform more upper level movements. Dancers and gymnasts are some of the most in shape people and often excel at riding due to the physical literacy they possess. If you are wanting to learn to ride you will benefit from working to be as fit as possible (stamina, strength, and flexibility). Did you know that if you have a physical impairment (most of us do, either we are born with them or acquire them through injuries - for example, a twisted pelvis) that the horse feels your impairment? The horse will then attempt to compensate you, eventually taking on the impairment themselves. As riding coaches it is our job to assess a rider's physical ability and help them to become as balanced, flexible, and strong as possible in order to keep our equine partners healthy!
Is horse riding a sport?
Most definitely! In fact, the English disciplines are Olympic sports! (Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing). The previous question answered how riding is exercise. In addition, equestrians are governed by the same sport governing bodies that your hockey or basketball team are governed by! ( National Coaching Certification Program and Safe Sport). We even have provincial (Saskatchewan Horse Federation) and the national (Equestrian Canada) governing bodies who regulate our sport. There are many competitive avenues, and athlete development programs. Riding can be a team or individual sport. However, you always have a parter, the horse! Thus an equestrian must not only be an athlete and adhere to all that goes with that (workout regimens, mental training, skill development) but they must also do the same for their equine partners (training skills and developing a fitness program for their horses, ensuring the horse has the appropriate diet, medical care, and a content mindset). Being an equestrian athlete often means you will be putting in many more hours than your average athlete (as you must care for you AND your horse), but it is incredibly rewarding!
Besides recreation, what other reasons are there to ride?
Riding is great fun. It is also great exercise and incredibly good for your mind and mental health. There are endless things you can do with your horse from competitions, to relaxing trail rides, to teaching them neat tricks, to chasing cows, to vaulting (gymnastics on horses), to jumping. There are many formal educational programs you can pursue and there are definitely careers with horses!
Can I lease a school horse?
We offer our school horses to lease to experienced riders who have been in our program minimum 6 months.
Can I board my horse at VEC?
If you are a current student at VEC we are happy to board your horse for you! We believe in fostering a healthy tight knit community, and therefore do not offer boarding to people we do not know. We want to ensure that VEC is a good fit for you prior to you making the commitment to board your horse.
Do you offer trail rides?
As a part of our lesson program we will take students on trail rides around the property. We like to foster a rider development program that develops well rounded riders, and we believe it is important for riders to learn how to ride outside of an arena. However, we do not offer trail riding to people as a "one off event". If you would like to ride you will need to attend lessons until you are capable of safely handling a horse outside of the arena.
Do you offer horse training?
Our instructors have started and trained many horses, and have great knowledge there. If you have a horse that needs training we are happy to coach you through that process in our lesson program. If you board your horse at VEC, you may request training rides to be put on your horse by one of our qualified instructors. However, our program is designed to focus on lessons and we simply do not have time to take on full time training horses. We will come alongside you through your training journey!
What kind of horses do you have?
We have a variety! We have slow, quiet, old horses great for beginners, and we have horses that have more pep and ability to do more advanced movements. We also have lesson horses that jump. We have english and western horses. We have paints, quarter horses, thoroughbreds, warmbloods, draft crosses, miniature ponies, welsh ponies and even a newfoundland pony! Many of our horses have been given a new lease on life by joining our program. Sometimes we purchase lesson horses, sometimes they are donated! Ask Cheralyne, the Horsemanship Director, about our horses, each of them have a very unique story!
Do horses like to be ridden?
When horses are ridden properly they enjoy it. As with anything in life, you can find sad stories and you can find happy stories. The more education a trainer has, usually the more ethical their training techniques will be. The days of "breaking horses" is a thing of the past at VEC. There has been so much evidence that training using fear and submission creates other problems in the long run. Science continues to investigate how horses think and learn, and these findings have led many trainers to use learning theories (psychology) to train their horses. Today's great trainers are compassionate, excellent listeners, and professional communicators. These are the traits that horses best understand. So yes, long story short, horses actually enjoy learning and exercise in a environment where they feel safe and feel they can comminicate with their trainer and be heard by them. This is the environment we foster at VEC. The welfare of our horses is of the utmost importance.
Are the horses well cared for?
In extension of the previous question, the staff at VEC know each horse on a very intimate level. We know their likes and dislikes, which horses are their friends and which ones are their "frenemies", we know their physical strenghts and limitations, we know which horses like to bend left and which ones prefer to bend right, we know what sorts of things make one horse nervous, while another could care two whoots, we know what their normal baseline behaviour looks like and we know when there is something "off". Just by how a horse is standing can tip our coaches off if they may be feeling unwell. We ensure all horses have excellent nutrition, catering to those who may have insulin resistance or may be sensitive to allergens. We have designed our pasture and paddock systems so that horses can live as naturally as they were designed. Every horse has access to socializing with other horse. We make sure each horse has an adequate exercise routine (by ensuring they are not over or underworked, AND that their training is varied to prevent sourness or overuse injuries) and also by encouraging them to move around their paddocks, (having feeding stations separate from water, shelter, etc.) Our horses receive regular farrier, deworming, dentistry, and body work. We have rehabbed a number of horses at VEC who have had a variety of emotional/physical impairments, through our excellent training and husbandry program.