But if Mathias absolutely must choose her favorite part about working at a horse ranch, “It would be working with the kids,” she said. “I love watching them grow as riders as they learn new skills, but I also love watching them grow as individuals as they gain confidence in their abilities. They develop communications skills, and their demonstration of responsibility is phenomenal. I’m continually impressed. These kids become like family.”
Mathias has been sharing her love of horses with East County residents since she opened her ranch in 2004, marshaling years of experience to train riders and horses alike. In her career, she has won more than 35 championships, hi-point and all-around titles.
While Mathias trains with show teams and prepares young riders to present their horses at shows and exhibitions, she also works with novice riders. Orchard Creek Ranch offers beginners’ lessons year-round for children interested in learning more about horses and horse riding.
“Some kids just want to learn for fun – to ride recreationally, but some kids want to take it to the next level and take a horse to shows,” Mathias said. “We can customize lessons to whatever your goals are. A lot of kids start out just wanting to learn how to ride, but after a few lessons, they’ve got the bug and they want to join a show team.”
Mathias is quick to caution parents that equestrian activities are to be taken seriously. Training with a horse takes time, commitment and dedication. Some kids take beginners’ lessons and realize riding isn’t for them, and that’s OK. “Horseback riding has a lot to do about the feel of it – that comfort and trust you have with the horse,” Mathias said. “If it’s not there, then it’s not there. It’s not something you can force. But we welcome families who want to get a taste for riding.”
Traditionally, Mathias hosts summer horse camps as a way to introduce new riders to the culture of horse riding. But as she is expecting her first child in June, this year’s camps have been put on hiatus. She hopes to squeeze in at least one camp around the end of August or early September.
For more information about lessons, call Mathias at 925-570-3929 or visit www.orchardcreekranch.webs.com.