The Lesson Horse

By Evelyn Clark

The sun rises over the rolling hills of En-Tice-Ment Stables as long-time resident Maestro grazes away, with Onyx and Cinders not far off. These horses’ days of showing and competing are long past— they now have a much more critical job. As lesson horses, they are teaching the next generation of riders and fostering a love of animals in everyone they meet.

Deana Tice started En-Tice-Ment Stables decades ago, and it continues to flourish. She now runs it alongside her niece and many others. It has been a home away from home and a haven for countless individuals and there are always more arriving. This camaraderie and collaboration all started with one thing, the humble lesson horse.

A place for the young and old, from toddlers to accomplished competitors, it’s a business that has been built on the backs of lesson horses. They have heard more stories, dried more tears, and carried more dreams in their lifetimes than any household pet could imagine. Owning and caring for horses is not feasible for everyone and these lesson horses allow riders from all walks of life to have a horse as a part of their family and weekly routine.

Hundreds of people come to the farm each week, eager to see if they’ll be riding their favorite horse or meeting a new one. For a short time each week, that horse is their friend, their partner, their most cherished pet. While a dog or cat may touch a handful of lives in their time, every lesson horse holds the hearts of hundreds.

These horses’ impact lasts much longer than the time it takes to ride. They are lifelong friends and teachers. Brittany Tice trained the horse named Bailey Irish Mudslide (aka Bailey) many moons ago and now is helping to teach her oldest daughter how to canter. Apache Storm “Buddy” taught Hailey Johnson how to ride. Hailey is now a full-time trainer and teaches countless riders on the very pony she grew up on.

They don’t just teach how to ride, they teach life lessons. They are steady enough to teach but just stub- born enough to challenge—they know their job and expect the same from their rider. They are not a ball or a bat, they have minds of their own and require their rider to adapt to them. These animals teach perseverance, dedication, and hard work, to dozens of people every single day. They are teachers— just as a dog may teach responsibility and compassion, these horses do the same.

A pet is an animal that is a part of a family and brings pleasure to those around them. Lesson horses are just that, except they aren’t part of one family, they’re part of hundreds.