All training and lessons are coached by Lydia Cunningham, owner of the ranch. Lydia has coached
many apprentice trainers through the years from all over the world. Many apprentices are now full time in the equine industry from a massage therapist to barn managers and assistant trainers to full-time coaches and trainers.
Mountaintop Ranch specializes in showing Ranch Riding and has shown several Quarter Horse Congress top ten Champions.
$950 per month…training and full board includes one lesson per week All training is done in the arenas and on the trails and in Western and/or English tack.
We offer private on-site lessons. We offer instruction in both English and Western tack. Lessons are $60 per person.
From Groundwork to Showing….(Ranch Riding, Trail, Rail Work both English and Western, and schooling jumps for HUS and Hunt horses)
We love to train yearlings and two year olds in our 45 ft. covered round pen
all groundwork education is done in this pen
Lunging and ground driving at walk, trot, and canter…. being lead properly with walk, stop, back, turning
right and left
Standing tied, flexing, following their nose, disengaging their hindquarters and picking up their feet
Accepting Fly Spray, Bathing and Clippers, plastic bags and popping noises
Desensitizing, saddling, learning to accept the bridle and first rides
Moving on to our 100 ft. round pen
Walk, trot, canter while carrying a rider, learning to steer, moving off the leg and moving laterally
Finishing work is done in the large covered riding arena
Perfecting all the basics
Sidepass, leg yields, half pass, turns/spins, correct halts, working over ground poles and logs, working gates, execution of lead changes, going up and down all transitions smoothly and in collection and neck reining. Gymnastics and starting over jumps
Trail riding and negotiating trail obstacles…steep hills, water crossings, small field jumps, riding independently on trails and with groups….re-schooling buddy sour or barn sour horses.
"WE EXCELL AT TEACHING BASIC PRINCIPLES TO THE HORSE SO THAT THE HORSE AND RIDER CAN
PERFORM IN ANY DISCIPLINE. TEACHING HORSE AND RIDER THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF RIDING.
TEACHING WITH CLEAR COMMUNICATION… PERFORMANCE AND TRUST…STRIVING FOR THE OUTCOME OF A RELAXED AND RESPONSIVE EQUINE PARTNER. WE EMPOWER THE HORSE TO CONTROL THEMSELVES AND LOOK FOR A CONSISTENT TRANSFORMATION IN THE HORSE…..BREAKING OLD HABITS AND TEACHING A COMBINATION OF NEW SKILLS AND BASIC BODY CONTROL. OUR LESSONS ARE GEARED FOR THE RIDER TO CREATE CLEAR COMMUNICATION AND A RELAXING RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR HORSE IN A LAID BACK ENVIRONMENT AND ONE ON ONE COACHING." -Lydia Cunningham
Learn about our apprentice trainer at Mountaintop Ranch, Madeline Stevens! She schools a variety of breeds and disciplines. Maddie is a recent graduate of James Madison University and rode with the JMU Equestrian team for two years. Maddie is the only trainer in the US training and showing a blind horse at a professional level. Maddie is a patient, consistent rider who always strives for excellence. She has a background in Hunters and Dressage but has been enjoying western riding and showing for quite some time now. Maddie is becoming famous in Virginia for training and showing Candy Cody Kisses, who lost her sight 4 years ago due to a virus. Maddie trains and shows “Essie” in Ranch Rail, Ranch Trail, Ranch Riding, and Reining. Maddie has learned to listen to Essie and the two are a great team winning many circuit championships along with several Ranch All-Around and Reserve All-Around titles . This pair successfully competed at the AQHA World Show in November 2020 in Ranch Riding and the Ranch Trail Stakes.
Maddie and Essie are one of very few rider/blind horse show teams.