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Riding Lesson Program
Lesson Horses Available!

Horseback Riding Lessons

Use of our lesson horse herd is for students who are willing to commit to at least eight lessons. 

We do this for the sanity of our lesson horses.

If you are not ready to dedicate eight lessons to learning to ride, please see our 'Guest Rides' page. 

Horse

Pony Program
Ages 6- 8

Pony Program meets once per week for 45 minutes. Students will learn equitation (riding position), basic riding skills, and horse care. Students will participate in arena games, trail rides, horse care, and theory lessons. 

Cost: $135 per month

Two Month minimum

Horse

Youth Program
Ages 9 - 17

Riders in the youth program will meet once per week for 1.5 hours. Riders will work in small groups based on their skill level and area of interest. Topics include barrel racing, natural horsemanship, trail riding, and ranch work. Riders will also participate in horse care activities and theory lessons.  

 Cost: $240 per month  

Two Month Minimum

Horse

Equestrian Program
18 +

Riders in the adult equestrian program meet once per week for 1 hour. Equestrian program riders will learn horsemanship and riding skills both in and out of the arena. Instruction will focus on your specific area of interest. Riders will also learn horse care and participate in theory lessons

Cost: $300 per month 

Two Month Minimum

Highlights

Little Grizzly Ranch LLC is owned and operated by Jessica Johnson (formerly Plancich). 

Jessica is a fifth generation Montanan. She grew up horseback and loves sharing the passion with others. 

Jessica holds a bachelor's in Natural Horsemanship/Equine Science from the University of Montana Western's four year hands on program. 

Showing locally and at Intercollegiate Horse Show Association events has given Jessica plenty of ribbons to turn into pillow cases, but her real love is horsemanship in the real world -  riding beautiful trails, spending long days working cattle horseback, and gaining a cooperative connection with a horse.  

We provide quality riding and horsemanship lessons for ages four and up. 

We believe that riding should be fun and that riders learn best when they are relaxed, confident, and enjoying their saddle time. 

What We Teach and Why

Jessica Johnson (formerly Plancich) heads up the riding lesson program at Little Grizzly Ranch. 

About me:  I'm a 5th generation Montana girl. I grew up riding. From a young age, I would climb on our ponies bareback and away we'd go. It wasn't until high school that I began taking lessons from a trainer and the difference was incredible. I fell in love with achieving collection on a lose rein, change leads at the touch of a leg, and even riding without a bridle.  Even all these years later, I remember the learning process. 

Every minute that I was not in school, I spent at the barn, riding for four or five hours a day. I gained experience doing local shows and got to be a fly on the wall to watch my mentors train and help problem horses and problem riders. 

I attended college at the University of Montana Western in Dillon Montana and went through their hands-on natural horsemanship program. I compare Western's program to attending a clinic every day for a few years in a row. Riding with others who came from backgrounds in rodeo, jumping, and every discipline under the sun broadened my horizons. I also had the opportunity to travel on the school's Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. I took in outside training to help pay for college and each horse was a invaluable learning experience.

I have a firm conviction that training riders and training horses needs to go hand in hand. Each ride shapes a horse. I am very careful to keep my lesson horses tuned up and honest, to give new riders a fair opportunity to learn. I break new skills down into bite-sized, achievable pieces, to make learning manageable. 

I graduated from Western in 2017 and have spent the last several years working in different facets of the horse industry, from colt starting, show prep, and problem solving, to dude trail rides, summer camps, and private lessons. While I appreciate the show world, my favorite moments horseback are always cresting a mountain with an incredible view.  

WHAT WE TEACH AND WHY

Natural Horsemanship: We base our lesson program on natural horsemanship theories. While many famous clinicians have industrialized "Natural Horsemanship", to us, it still means what great horsemen like Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt intended:

Working with the horse, not against them.

Making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. 

Using pressure and release. Using release to reward the horse. 

Developing good feel and timing. Knowing not only what to do, but when to do it. 

Equitation 

Did you know that something as simple as holding your reins incorrectly can throw your entire body out of balance when riding? "Equitation" or "Riding Posture" is vital to staying secure in the saddle and achieving your riding goals. We use a wide variety of balance and strengthening exercises to teach riders correct equitation. 

Fun and Games

A true learning mindset comes from being relaxed and open to new information. We do not tolerate "old school"  style coaching and neither should you. 

Horseback Riding is a skill that is very counter-intuitive to the way that we as humans move our bodies. 

Colorful props are used to keep young riders engaged. Games give riders a goal while practicing riding skills. 

FAQ:

Why does horseback riding cost more than a piano lesson or a cup of coffee?

Current rates reflect the quality horses and gear we provide and the quality of life that our hard-working lesson horses deserve. Our prices are highly competitive. We do not negotiate on lesson prices. 

Why can't I take just one or two lessons with a lesson horse?

Horseback riding is an incredibly complex skill. We do not want to falsely give folks the impression that they can learn to ride in one or two hours time. We require incoming students to take eight lessons to gain a minimum skillset. For those looking for a fun, one-time experience, we offer guest rides.  

Do I need to wear boots and a helmet?

Riders under 18 are required to wear an SEI certified horseback riding helmet to ride. A helmet can be purchased from our store-room for $40. NO bicycle, ski, or motorcycle helmets. Cowboy boots with a 2 inch heel or English riding boots with a two inch heel are required for all riders. Used boots are available to purchase from our store-room for $20 a pair.  

Seeing is Believing:

Come sit in on an existing lesson or purchase a guest ride as a sample. We're happy to talk your ear off about horses anytime. Please call or  email to ask about joining the riding lesson program. 

 LittleGrizzlyRanch@Gmail.Com

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