An equestrian facility in Northport focuses on teaching girls how to ride horses.
By Chelsea Amend
NORTHPORT- Westminster Farm is home to over 50 horses.
It’s an equestrian facility teaching locals how to safely ride horses. Riders of all ages are welcome to take lessons and care for their own horse. They offer boarding rates and will even take care of your goat or pig. While Westminster Farm is known for putting smiles on many faces, they want to be known for inspiring young riders to achieve their dreams.
Westminster Farm teaches riders at the age of 3 and older to jump their horses. Most of their riders take lessons at home and then compete all over the country. They will show in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, South Carolina and Kentucky.
Trainer Annie Bolling believes that starting to ride at a young age is beneficial.
“I love teaching riders super young,” Bolling said. “I get to watch them grow and mature as a rider throughout the years. It feels good knowing I help make them the riders they are today.”
Many of Westminister Farm riders have won competitive horse shows and even ribboned at medal finals. This is the super bowl in riding competitions.
Rider Natalie Sanders wants to keep perfecting her riding so she can be successful when she goes to college.
“I have ridden since I was five and have put hundreds of hours into this sport. The best part of competitive horse showing is meeting amazing people from all over. My biggest hope and dream would to be able to ride competitively at a division one school. I don’t want to offend anyone, but Auburn has a top three riding program. I’d love to go there, but only for the riding.”
Riders like Sanders go to the barn immediately after school. They spend four to five hours grooming, tacking up, riding, and bathing their horses. Then they clean their tack after they put their horses away for the night. Some weekends the riders ride two to three horses to get in more practice, while other weekends are full of competing.
“It’s a very hands-on and time-consuming sport,” said rider Anne Douglas. In the summer, I am here until the sun goes down. My goal this year is to compete at medal finals and take home a ribbon.”
Every rider has a different goal to achieve and Westminster Farm is dedicated to making them successful. Trainers, barn managers, cleaning staff, and a veterinarian live at the farm on Watermelon Road. The trainers teach lessons and help the riders compete at shows, the barn managers make sure the barn stays organized, the cleaning staff feeds and cleans the horses’ stalls, and the veterinarian is on call just in case a horse needs medical attention.
“There are many people involved in making this whole farm run smoothly,” said owner Ashley Morrison. “I love the people that work for me. They are my people.”