Riding Lessons, Black Forest Farm, Barneveld, Madison, Blue Mounds WI         Lessons in Horsemanship 


We offer a unique approach to learning about horses that encompasses basics about psychology, anatomy, care and tack, along with natural horsemanship training and riding techniques.  While many people first associate horses with riding, we also focus on the many ways horses have value in our connection with them from the ground. Over time, you'll learn how to achieve true partnership with a horse and develop an even greater appreciation for their beauty, power and ability to mirror our emotions. 

As much as most of us would love to have this relationship instantly, the reality is that horses are what they are. They don't initially desire to have that type of relationship with us.  While it's true that horses can be "broke" and will serve us well as they have for centuries, at Black Forest Farm, we choose a different path of mutual service.  While that path may initially be more challenging, confusing or frustrating, we believe that our greatest education and reward is in the journey.

Horses teach us about ourselves and life in ways that few animals have the ability to do. It is not our "right" to ride them.  It is a gift of love and trust they give us in allowing us to safely ride on their back. After all, one of the basic differences between horses and people is that horses are prey animals and people are predators. Horses' every instinct is that they will be eaten. They know that we are predators because our eyes are on the front of our face while theirs are on the side of their head. Think of other prey animals such as deer and song birds and other predators such a lions and eagles. Horses, like other prey animals are very attuned to their environment including the energy and emotions of those around them.

Ever watch one of those nature documentaries where the lion is following the zebra herd? When the lion isn't hunting, the zebras know it just as well as when the lion IS on the hunt. Of course, the one who can't or doesn't stay with the rest of the herd becomes the next meal. Ever notice how a large flock of birds will turn abruptly in unison when they fly? Amazing they don't fly into each other. Prey animals do this because their most primal instinct is that when one member of the flock or herd is alone or alarmed, there is good reason to fear and react.

When a horse misbehaves, what one hears most often is that the horse is the problem. The truth is that we need to be better at helping the horse overcome a strong predisposition to its most basic instincts. Does that mean it's OK for a horse to misbehave? Absolutely not. Bad behavior is not an excuse. It shows us what we need to do to help it move to the next level of trust and partnership. While some people understand this, many owners of such a horse can't or are not willing to make the commitment of time, energy and money necessary to achieve that goal.

From the horses' point of view, what they care about most in their relationship to others is the hierarchy meaning, who is above them and below them in the dominance chain.  We see that horses have intricate body language that tells them their place.  This is the language that we must mimic in order for them to respect us as the leader. 

Learn to Dance with Horses

Marlene Cordes is the owner of Black Forest Farm, LLC and Dance Easy which teaches ballroom dance.  Students in either business often remark at what appears to be a major gap in how these two businesses tie together.  In reality, there are many metaphors one can use from partner dancing to understand horsemanship and vice versa. One of the basic ideas one can understand from ballroom dance as it relates to horsemanship is that both require a good leader and follower to make a beautiful dance. 

In ballroom dance, neither role is more or less important.  A good leader does not dominate or force the follower.  It is the follower's choice to follow gracefully.  A good leader respects and protects the follower.  A good leader does not give the follower a reason to mistrust their leadership by running them into people or other obstacles.  A good leader is able to give cues that respectfully direct the follower and allow them not only to be their very best but allow them to accomplish more together than each could do on their own.  Following is just as much of an art as leading.  Even in dance with two willing partners it can take years to perfect the dance.  It all depends on what level of perfection one strives for as to when one decides "they can dance."   If one does not enjoy the journey, one does not enjoy the dance. Instructors in anything including ballroom dance or horsemanship are on a journey of learning as well.  They have not achieved perfection.  They are just at a higher level than their students.

Lessons in horsemanship are just as much of a dance except that our partners have not elected to follow us.  We must show them we are worthy of leadership.  In dance as with horsemanship, it's not just the mechanics.  It's the intuitive subtleties that make the most difference and take the longest to master. 

What can you expect from lessons in horsemanship at Black Forest Farm, LLC? 

We have about 30 horses of all ages and ability levels.  They are not "push button" lesson horses.  They represent what you can expect from a real horse experience should you decide to include horses in your life in a more commtted way.  They are first and foremost animals and horses and as such can be unpredictable no matter how reliable they are.  We want them to think and feel and be allowed to express themselves with us within limits that keep us safe.  Because we ask them to walk a finer line, they may not do what we want as easily at times.  However this gives us the opportunity to understand and develop our leadership skills at a deeper level. 

We have created an environent that simulates situations one would experience on a trail. No matter what your riding discipline, most of us like to be able to take our horses out on the trail.  We ride western and teach primarily basic riding and horsemanship. 

As part of our "on farm classroom" for our horses, we have peacocks to desensitize them to birds such as those that might fly up on the trail.  They walk around the farm and roost in the barn.  Sometimes they fly.  The males become like an umbrella when they open up their tails and court a hen. 

We support feral cat organizations.  These cats who call our barn home also control the mice and other rodents in a natural predator/prey relationship that gives them a home and keep us from using more inhumane means of pest control.  These cats roam the barn and property as well. 

While dogs are not usually present at our lessons, the horses are used to them and know how to defend themselves without running off. 

We also have toys for our horses that simulate brush, bridges or other "trail monsters."  Some of the horses even like the giant ball they can kick around the arena.  Yes, horses play!  Isn't that a more fun way to learn? It's more fun for our students too.  When students reach an ability level where they can "play" safely, it's the best way to learn the finer points of horsemanship.

Our riding facilities include a small indoor arena, which is a good place to start or for bad weather days.  In the winter, the medium sized south arena is actually warmer than the indoor arenas.  The large outdoor arena is the most popular in the summer and the 60' x 63' Cover All building serves as shelter and arena on bad weather days.  We also have trails throughout our 54 acres complete with deer, turkeys and all those other "trail monsters."   Most lessons take place in the controlled environment of the indoor or outdoor arenas, however on farm trails and group trail rides off the farm are another great souce of education. 

Whether one desires to gain basic knowledge and skills about horses, regain confidence from poor horse experiences or master riding skills and natural training techniques, lessons is horsemanship allow students to develop a connection with horses in positive ways they might not be able to anticipate.  Horses are incredible animals who have tremendous value in our lives regardless of your skill level or theirs.

If you have been curious about what your life would be like with horses or want to reconnect with horses again, begin your lessons in horsemanship now.    Lessons are only $50 per hour.  Because of the nature of the experience, lesson times may be more or less than 60 minutes.  As horses don't wear watches, the goal of each lesson is positive progress for the day.  Call today to reserve your time to begin your lessons in horsemanship now.


Introductory Horsemanship Package

Save 10% on a package of 10 private hours of instruction.  Only $450 at this special introductory rate. That's like having a free lesson!

10 Lessons for only $450!