About Reevedale Farm
1. The Reevedale team consists of farm owner Maura Sweeney-Reeve and Trainers/Instructors Caitlin Lewis and Katie Speer. Maura is the owner of Reevedale Farm and has been riding and showing Morgan horses for over 40 years. She serves on the Board of Directors for the New England Morgan Horse Association, as well as continuing to ride, show, and breed her Morgans. Katie Speer has been competing at the Regional and National level with Morgan and Arabian horses for over 20 years. She completed her education at the University of Connecticut and went on to work for several top New England show barns, gaining great experience in teaching and training before coming to Reevedale in 2014. She has experience in many seats, but specializes in hunt seat, saddleseat, and dressage. Caitlin Lewis came to Reevedale as we expanded our program in 2015, bringing with her several years of experience training Arabian horses for the Regional and National circuit. Prior to that, she worked for several different trainers expanding her skill sets, and competed with her Morgans in saddleseat, western, driving, hunter over fences, and equitation.
2. We start teaching kids as young as 3. However, each child is different. Some children are not ready until they are 5 or 6, while some can start very young.
3. All of our lessons are 30-minutes long. For younger kids, they will spend half of that time learning how to groom and handle their horse, tack up, and going over basic horse safety. The remaining 15 minutes are spent riding. Once students are old enough and advanced enough to tack up on their own, they are expected to arrive early enough to get their horse ready, and they spend the entire 30 minutes riding.
4. Our students do a variety of activities in their lessons that range from equitation and strengthening exercises, dressage, patterns, and learning how to get the best performance out of their show horses. All lessons are tailored to each individual student and designed to improve their skills and confidence while still being fun!
5. We compete at shows ranging from single-day, entry-level schooling shows to multi-day, A-rated shows. We provide lesson horses for students who want to try out showing at the lower level shows. As students progress, they are encouraged to lease or buy a horse that they can compete with at A-rated shows. We typically have several horses available for lease here at the farm.
6. We require that students take a lesson at least once per week to go to shows. Depending on the students goals, it is recommended that they ride twice or more per week.
7. We focus on a supportive and positive mentality at shows. Students are encouraged to set goals for themselves and their horse (that are not ribbon related), and we discuss their goals after their class. If their ride at a show doesn’t go as well as they had hoped, they are expected to pat their horse and be gracious, and then later on we will discuss what they can do to improve for next time. We also encourage camaraderie at shows. Students are expected to support other members of “Team Reevedale,” whether it is by helping out (brushing a tail, wiping off boots) or cheering from the rail.
8. I think the best thing that kids can gain from interacting with horses is confidence. We have seen many shy kids learn to stand taller and speak up for themselves, especially when they realize that a 1,000 pound animal will follow their directions. Our program has also helped shy children make friends, by bringing them together with an easy common interest. As new students come in, the more experienced and formerly shy kids will jump right in and help out and show them the ropes, giving them leadership skills as well.
9. The biggest thing that makes us stand out is the variety of disciplines we offer. We have students of all ages learning and competing in everything from dressage, to jumping, to saddle seat, western pleasure, and driving. We are able to do so many different things because we focus primarily on the Morgan breed, which is known for being smart, athletic, and above all, versatile. We also have incredibly patient and kind instructors, who look forward to forming a bond with all students and horses to allow them to learn and grow their comfort zone while having fun. We have both children’s horsemanship programs and adult “ladies nights” and exercise group lessons for those looking for a sense of community in their barn as well.