Located at 7600 S. Elwood, roughly a 30-minute drive thanks to construction on the 71st and Riverside bridge, the Southern Hills Riding Academy is home to many horses.
The academy, owned by riding instructor Kim Dyer, opened in 1994. Dyer has been teaching for 35 years. Her childhood passion for horses turned into a career. All four of her children are also equestrians.
Because the Southern Hills Riding Academy is located off campus, you would need to have a car or a really great friend to drive you to and from the class.
Once enrolled in the course, you will begin an introduction to English horseback riding. Mainly for beginners, the class covers horse grooming, handling and riding.
The class costs $200, but work study may be an option for students in exchange for lessons. Advanced horse riding classes cost more money and are available for the expert equestrian, who often participate in competitions.
Psychology junior Sami Prichard both works for and shows horses with the academy. When asked about the exercise of riding, Prichard said it “requires a lot more of you physically.”
“By the end of my show jumping training I’m sweating in 40-degree weather,” Prichard said.
Prichard also talked about building an unlikely relationship with her horse.
“You learn how to communicate with a partner that doesn’t speak your language,” Prichard said. “The relationship you build with your horse is one of the most remarkable and significant friendships one can have.”
The riding academy is not dedicated solely to ORU’s HPE class. There are many classes offered to teenagers and adults. The majority of the classes are geared toward children, especially during the summer months when they hold camps.
Dyer’s son and ORU freshman David Lopez said seeing the children’s faces when they first get to the barn is “priceless.”
“I think their favorite feeling is when we let them ride by themselves; because even though they are still small, they get to be in control of this massive beast,” Lopez said.
There are no specified hours for the riding academy due to all the activities offered. Boarders can ride any time, and riding lessons can be scheduled at any time during the day.
Depending on what you choose to put into the class, the experience could be rewarding.