DIRECTOR OF RIDING PROGRAM, ENGLISH RIDING HEAD COACH
Fountain Valley is home to a herd of more than 40 school horses and welcomes both Hunt Seat and Western riders representing all genders and skill levels; from competitive and experienced to never-before-ridden.
Founded at FVS in 2003, the English Riding program is structured around the American forward seat riding system as supported by the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA). Riders can participate with their personal horses or ride one of the School’s horses, capable of taking riders from their first jump to coursing 3’.
Fountain Valley is proud to offer three class groups with qualified instructors–all accomplished riders and many certified by the USHJA–to support riders at any level. Riders also benefit from on- and off-campus clinics led by talented equestrian coaches such as Bernie Traurig, Joanne Warring, Julie Winkel, and Nick Karazissis. Riders have also attended programs like the Emerging Athletes Program (EAP).
In addition to participating in local and A-rated shows, the School’s English Riding program sponsors a highly competitive and successful IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) team, which has won at zones, regionals, and nationals during multiple seasons. Many Fountain Valley alumni, such as Michaela Edwards ’19 of Stanford University, have gone on to ride in NCAA and IHSA collegiate programs, and have also become professional riders, trainers, and veterinarians in the equine industry.
Riding, the oldest athletic program offered at FVS, began with the School’s inception in 1930. As a working cattle ranch focused on ranch horses and teaching students to work with animals, the Western Riding program played a vital role in helping FVS’s first students complete their daily chores. Today, the School’s Western Riding program teaches riders horse management, and prepares riders for competition in the IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) with a focus on Horsemanship and Ranch Riding.
Students regularly take to the trails of Fountain Valley’s 1,100-acre Prairie and have opportunities to participate in overnight pack trips in the mountains near Buena Vista and in PicketWire Canyon twice per year. In the Western Riding Program, students gain a better understanding of horsemanship by taking care of their assigned horses and learning grooming, tacking, and the safe handling of a horse. In the saddle, they not only work on skills in Horsemanship but also in Ranch Riding, and – for more advanced riders – Reining. The spring season offers a chance for students to go back to the roots of FVS and practice working cattle, sorting, and penning.
The Fountain Valley program is not just about riding. There are so many opportunities to improve yourself as a rider, a horseman, and a person. You learn how to take care of the horse and become thoroughly well-rounded running the barn, feeding the horses, blanketing them, cleaning their stalls, and learning to take care of their medical needs.
— Michaela E. '19
Home to a 150x275 Indoor Riding Arena, four competition-sized outdoor arenas, a covered arena, and tons of outdoor open space to ride, FVS offers extensive accommodations for horses and riders.