Stanford University is affectionately known as “The Farm” due to it being built on Leland Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm, where he bred standardbred horses for racing. What a lot of people don’t know is that nearly 100 horses still reside on campus today at Stanford’s Red Barn.
About a third of the horses are owned by or loaned to Stanford for use in equestrian teams and lessons. The great news is that you don’t have to be a Stanford student to get to ride at the Red Barn. Lessons are offered in both English and western styles of riding and children through to adults, beginners through to experienced riders are all catered for. Late night lessons are also available for office workers – I have my lessons at 7.30pm. The facilities at the Red Barn are excellent, with two outdoor arenas and two undercover arenas with lights.
Riders are assessed in an initial private lesson for both handling skills and riding ability. If you are experienced with horses, you will be expected to catch, groom and tack up your allocated horse prior to future group or private lessons as well as cool off and turn out afterwards. If you are new to horses, you will be supervised as you learn how to do these tasks safely. Although the Red Barn does have a no touching or feeding the horses policy for visitors, you are allowed to give your lesson horse treats so make sure you bring carrots or peppermints! The dress code for lessons is:
- Riding boots with a heel
- Long pants
- Short- or long-sleeved shirt (no tank tops)
If you do not have any gear, this can look like an expensive list but it doesn’t need to be. Helmets can cost as little as $30 as can paddock boots (also known as jodhpur boots) and are available in most tack shops or online saddleries. Bike helmets do not provide adequate protection and so are not suitable. Whilst jodhpurs and breeches are designed for riding comfort, they are not essential.
More information about riding at the Stanford Red Barn is available at the website below, or e-mail Avery Brown at email@example.com to organise lessons. Although e-mail is the best method of contact, don’t be alarmed if a few days pass before a response.
Children in middle school or high school may be interested in participating in the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA). IEA is based on a system of “catch riding” where riders compete on horses they are riding for the first time. This is an ideal format for riders who don’t have their own horse but still want to be part of an equestrian team. Red Barn hosts two teams for training, the Red Barn Team and the Woodside Team, both of whom are very successful. Teams need riders of all levels, not just experienced riders, and try-outs are held in the beginning of summer and fall. More information about IEA is available at http://www.rideiea.org/ or visit https://www.facebook.com/IeaRedBarnAndWoodsideTeams for information on the Red Barn based teams.
Stanford hosts both inter-school and inter-college competitions