I remember spending summers in Switzerland and seeing ponies and horses pass in front of my Grossmami’s house. I would hear the trip trap of the hooves, run to the window, and admire all those little, and big, equestrians in their breeches and boots.
My Pops would walk me through the forest to the Pony Hof, and I would choose the pony with the biggest butt. My favorite was Janslop. I remember him so well. He was this big, beautiful, bay gelding, that to me as a child, looked like a giant. The Pony Hof kids would walk me through the forest, and we would struggle with communication. Me with my poor Schweizerdeutsch, and them with their poor English.
This was the beginning of my love for horses.
Fast forward to today, and I have my own little riding school. My goals are to teach kids, and adults, what I wish had been taught to me. Either as an adult, or as a child. To this day, I jump at the opportunity to take lessons with different instructors. It’s always good to learn from them, and I do love riding as many horses as I can. Even on our travels, if we don’t take lessons, we at least go on a hack.
Each instructor has his or her own teaching method. Observing lessons, learning new tricks, there’s always something new to learn and appreciate. As with anything, the learning never stops around horses! So whichever instructor you end up with, always keep an open mind, an open heart, and listen carefully.
For all the budding equestrians out there, here is a quick list of schools for you to fulfill your equestrian dreams.
DXD EQUESTRIAN SPECIALISTS
For this equestrian trio, riding is in their blood. From their parents, down to themselves, horses had been a part of their family. DXD stands for Danni, Xavi, and Diego Virata, and they teach at the Manila Polo Club.
Here is a breakdown of their fee:
Polo Club Guest Fee: PhP.1,000.00
DXD Instructor Fee: PhP.1,000.00
Horse Rental: Varies from PhP.1,200.00 to PhP.1,500.00
MARIKINA EQUESTRIAN CENTER
I’ve only been to MEC once, and that was a long time ago. Run by Monet Rosario, MEC has a big roster of students. And kudos to the MEC kids, as they took home majority of the awards during the World Dressage Challenge 2018 last September at the Manila Polo Club! Rates for the MEC go for PhP.15,000.00 for ten lessons, or PhP.1,500.00 per lesson.
MANILA POLO CLUB
There is a riding school in Manila Polo Club, although I am not so sure how it works. You can check their website, or give them a call to find out. They do a have a lineup of school horses, most of which are ex-polo ponies. They also lease out gear for beginner riders, such as helmets and boots. But I do recommend calling DXD Equestrian Specialists for instruction at the MPC.
There are other instructors in MPC, my favorites are my Dressage Instructor, Vittorio Barba. I really learn a lot in my lessons with him, and try as much as possible to have a few when I am in Manila. To have lessons with Vic, you have to find an MPC sponsor, and find your own horse. He will not recommend taking lessons with him on one of the school horses, and I recommend him for the more advanced riders who want to refine their riding skills.
Then of course there is my other favorite, Chato Cruz, who frequents Bacolod and holds clinics. Although you have to be a MPC member to take lessons with Chato, she’s amazing with kids. And my grooms seem to think she’s one of the “stricter” instructors. But I love it!
HHF EQUESTRIAN CENTRE
Then of course there’s us. We’re just fifteen minutes out of Bacolod City. The rates of our lessons is as follows:
One Time Registration Fee: PhP.1,000.00
Ten Thirty Minute Lessons for the HHF Pony Club (4-6 year olds): PhP.8,000.00
Ten Thirty Minute Lessons for 7-11 year olds: PhP.8,000.00
Ten Forty-Five Minute Lessons for 12 year olds and up: PhP.9,500.00
KEEP ON LEARNING
I always get asked why I still take lessons. Because I have to! I’m still not where I want to be in my riding, and there will always, always be someone better than you. There will always be new tricks to learn, new techniques. Even from just observing other people’s lessons I learn a lot. So I like to sit and watch and listen.
I also still enjoy learning from our vet. I’d spend days with him if I could. There will always be something to learn.
So the trick with working with horses, always, always keep your glass half full. Always be willing to learn from others, and always be willing to take advice from instructors, vets, farriers.