ST. MARYS — The Saddle Club started in the fall of 2017.
“It’s a riding program where kids can either be dropped off after school or ride the bus here. This past school year we ran two saddle club riding programs. This fall I will be adding a third group,” said Windfall Farms owner Rachel Fledderman.
The club allows young people to ride after school in a group setting beyond their private weekly lessons.
“Friendships have formed, the kids’ riding has improved 100 percent, that extra day of riding over the school year has made a big impact,” Fledderman said.
Ava Villella, a fifth grader at South St. Marys Elementary School, describes the after school program as “fun.”
“I get a lot of experience and it’s fun to be with the horses because they’re really interesting animals,” said Villella as she brushed Millie, who she has been riding for two years.
Villella added, “She can do anything at any moment. She’s a really good jumper.”
As Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez played on the radio in the barn Wednesday afternoon, 16-year-old Abby Mattivi of St. Marys, said she has been riding horses her whole life.
As she tacked up Diamond she said, “I love it here. I love the people and the environment. It’s a really great place because of the opportunities you get here to have fun and participate in horse shows.”
As 10-year-old Olivia Meyer worked to groom her horse before Wednesday’s lesson, she said she has been riding for three years and comes three times a week after school.
“Jumping is my favorite part,” Meyer said.
In 2016, the Fledderman family took over Windfall Farms, located at 737 N. St. Marys St., St. Marys. The business offers horse riding lessons, boarding, training, and horse leasing.
The facility, which serves the Tri-County area, boasts an indoor arena, heated wash stalls, round pen, acres of pastures, tack room, outdoor arena, and access to trails for riding.
It also has a 4-H program for young people who have their own horse, looking to lease a horse, or who want to connect with others who enjoy horses.
While the school year is coming to an end, Windfall Farms is offering opportunities for riders to continue what they started in The Saddle Club.
This summer it will hold a horse summer camp. The camp is one week long, going from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday for beginners up to advanced riders.
“We will be riding, learning horse care, horse games, a water day, horse crafts, and more. This again is a program kids can come together with other children with similar interests and ride together,” Fledderman said.