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Specialists in training, teaching, trail riding & horsemanship

Lessons

Our aim at Yarramba is to produce happy, confident riders who can understand and enjoy horses.

Both Mark and Rosemary have a lifetime of experience teaching pupils of all ages, nationalities and ability, specialising in advanced dressage and horsemanship skills as well as teaching children, nervous beginners and those returning to riding after a break.

Lessons are tailored to suit the individual rider and their aims or interests, for example:

  • Basic riding skills, including developing balance and a good seat at the walk, sitting and rising trot, and the canter
  • Advanced riding skills, including working on rein control, lateral control, flying changes and rollbacks
  • Advanced dressage
  • Western riding and reining
  • Groundwork and "natural horsemanship" exercises
  • "Join Up"
  • Lunging
  • Trail/bush riding skills and practice

Lesson/Bush Riding Combos

Many clients enjoy combining an hour or two of lesson time with two hours of riding out in the bush.

This is a great way to:

  • Refresh or learn new riding skills in our arena with one-to-one tuition
  • Practice riding skills out in a bush setting
  • Continue receiving riding and horsemanship tuition out on the trail
  • Have some riding time to relax on horseback outside of formal lessons
  • Enjoy the stunning scenery and a break from the stress of daily life

If you have attend a riding school in Canberra, Jindabyne or Sydney, this can be a great way to complement your regular lessons and enjoy a break from the city at the same time.

 

Riding lessons for Children

We lead the field in giving safe, sympathetic and supportive instruction to small children. Our ponies are quiet and willing workers. Over the years many children ages three and older start learning how to ride with an emphasis on safety and fun. Children begin with ponies being led by an instructor, then progress to being lunged while holding the horn of the saddle for support, and eventually easing into using no hands to hold on. As confidence grows, they learn to post (do a rising trot), and relinquish their hold on the saddle. When balance and confidence are established at this level, they can start using the reins and become riders.

There is generally a lot of giggling as they learn time-honoured tricks like "around the world" (which has them sitting forwards, then sideways, then backwards on their mount); dismounting by slipping off over the tail; and Greg"s speciality is to lie down on command, get into a sitting position for a child to mount him, then standing up - always to smiles all round.

 

 

 

 

Case Studies

Judy Weber

"At the age of forty, I had a husband and four children, was a happy housewife, but needed a challenge. I decided to try horse riding and Mark was recommended to me by a friend.

Previous to this I had no horse riding experience except once or twice as a child. Horses, even ponies were big, frightening, wild animals but fascinating. It soon became the hour in the week that I looked forward to. There was so much to learn, so many skills I had to develop. I realised I was not a very coordinated person; this was something I had to develop.

Also I had to learn to be assertive. In fact what was interesting was that a lot of the skills I learnt from Mark for horse riding were things I needed to learn to make me develop as a person. I learnt to face my fears. A number of times I turned up there feeling a bit fearful and start by saying "I'm not going to canter today", and before the hour was over he had conned me into having a wonderful canter each way in the arena.

At the time I had no intention of owning a horse. I was horrified at the thought of putting my fingers in a horse's mouth as a necessary part of bridling. Indeed I was a very timid person but as I gained confidence, Mark would push me a little further beyond my comfort zone and thus what was scary yesterday became bearable today, and normal in the future.

I often said I was a slow learner and was not very confident with technical scientific things like computers, but here I was faced with learning all sorts of technical, mechanical things to do with horses' gaits. I had to learn timing. If things were going to work with a horse I had to sit in a certain way, apply certain pressures with my reins and coordinate them with leg pressure and possibly this dangerous thing, a dressage whip. All this developed with repetition and encouragement. But it was fun! I lived for my time with the horse and, bit by bit, a terrible thing happened: I felt this overwhelming desire to make permanent the relationship with Storm Boy, the buckskin gelding I rode.

Eight years after I started as a total beginner, I have been a horse owner for three years. I keep my horse on a friend's paddock. I sometime do "join up" with him in the yard. I circle him at the walk, trot, and canter in the flat areas and I ride him out through the bush with friends and sometimes on my own. If I haven't ridden him for a week I sometimes feel more confident if I lunge him first.

There is still more I would like to learn but I am basically very confident with my horse, and if Mark hadn't encouraged me to learn more and pushed me that little beyond my "comfort zone" I probably would never have felt confident to own a horse and manage him all on my own."

Helaine

"At the age of 41 I had owned and ridden horses for eight years. I had never had a lesson - I was self taught. The horses that I had were basically 'old crocs'...other people"s hand-me-downs. I was searching for a new horse, one that was reasonably young and sound and had no vices. I was following up an ad for a six year old Holsteiner thoroughbred-cross gelding. It was at the place of Mark Layton where it had been for a couple of months. Mark had broken it in and trained it. In the half an hour that he demonstrated this horse I was left dazzled. In the round yard at liberty he demonstrated what he called 'join up'. Getting the horse to walk, trot and canter at given signals and change direction with total obedience and then come to him in the middle and follow him as he walked around. He then proceeded to walk around the horse cracking a stockwhip and flapping a piece of blue plastic tarp, still with no halter while the horse stood there as relaxed as if he was grooming it with a dandy brush.

He then proceeded to saddle it and put a halter on, and quickly demonstrated a few things that I had never heard or thought of. He not only got it to walk backwards and forwards and sideways, but talked about controlling different parts of the horse individually and proceeded to get it to keep its front feet in the one spot while its back feet walked a circle in either direction around them. He used a lot of jargon that I was not familiar with: turns on the forehand, turns on the hindquarters, pirouettes, roll backs, flexion and side passes. These were things I didn't know about, I just wanted a horse I could ride. Next thing he put the bridle on, mounted and with the same calm control had the 16hh warmblood moving around the arena with great ease at the walk, trot and canter and doing some of the other maneouvres he had done on the ground, turns on the forehand, hindquarters and sidepasses. I could see it was a very impressive, calm and responsive horse.

Next thing it was my turn to try the horse. I felt sort of secure and safe in his big western saddle but the question soon on my mind was who was on trial, me or the horse. Mark was quickly trying to instruct me to change the way I rode. "Stop leaning forward", "sit back", "stop snatching at the reins", and so on. My attempt at a canter was not good. The last time I had ridden my horse at home I had come off at the canter, so in apprehension and full of adrenaline I gathered up the reins and got a short tight hold on them and despite Mark telling me to lean back and give him a little more rein I crouched forward gripping and clinging, shouted "canter" and kicked him and wondered why I got a few pig roots. Mark got back on again and had him floating around majestically.

My husband Peter and I were both very impressed with the horse. Peter and Mark both suggested that I should come out the following weekend for some tuition. I had a series of intensive lessons, both groundwork and ridden exercises on his school horses and then would have a not too ambitious ride on 'Mick' the warmblood. In fact I came for something like three weekends a month for three months. There was so much I had to learn about lungeing, groundwork, body language as well as in ridden work, and so much I had to unlearn. Halfway through the day on the third weekend things seemed to be going a lot better and cautiously I said to Mark, "I am going good this time", to which he said " Yes, I think we have finished most of our demolition work". He would complain about my "snatchy hands" - I had to learn to sit back and move my hands with slow deliberate, calculated co-ordinated movement, but I did make progress.

I bought the horse and kept asking Mark when he thought I was ready to take him home. His answer was, "When I could demonstrate good control in the arena and when I could trot and canter him for five kilometres (or more), walk him home and trot and canter past home in the opposite direction without trouble." He also strongly recommended that before I took him home I should have constructed a safely fenced working area. He didn't care if it was a round yard or an arena, but he specified a reasonably level area, safely fenced, big enough to comfortably canter, where I could warm the horse up.

After all I work five days a week and although I am able to ride in the summer mid-week and can juggle my hours, basically the horse would have the week off a lot of the year. Also Mark pointed out there will be weekends where you go away and it may rain all weekend. You must have the skills and the setup to work the horse on the lunge and then in the arena before going out in the open.

It is now a year since I first went to look at the grey horse and met Mark Layton."

Our Story - Jack & Tolly

 

When I was twelve (in 2011) and had just moved into the area, we bought a 6-year-old horse. His name was Jack and he was a beautiful dappled grey 15hh Quarter Horse. I thought he was perfect for my skill level he was relaxed, slow moving and had a nice paced trot and canter.

After about a year of having him I decided to enter the annual 2012 Snowy Mountains Grammar School Interschool"s Competition, which is the local big horse competition. I thought I will easily be able to jump the cross-rails (about 50cm jump in height), but no, Jack had other plans. He had been acting up a little bit before hand and I thought nothing of it. He was always a bit slow and not too forward moving, but in the past week or so he would just stop and toss his head about, no matter what I would do. So when we finally got into the arena he thought "oh yay! Lets not go at all, in fact, lets just rear and get ourselves kicked out of the ring"
So I left the show very upset and with a huge loss of confidence in my horse and myself.

So I Put Jack away for winter and when I got back on him later that year, he still had his rearing problem. It was starting to get to a point where I was scared of even walking him away from people or off the lunging rein. I didn"t know what to do or where to start in a situation like this. I spoke to my parents about the situation and we had two choices- the first being to sell Jack and start the search for a new horse all over again, this option also meant giving up, which is something that isn"t always positive, and option two: seek professional help, that professional help was Mark.

He taught me many skills, changed my riding style (for the better), changed my horse and got our confidence to work together back. After about 10 weeks of hard work I had an amazing new horse that scored me a blue ribbon in the 2013 Snowy Mountains Grammar School Interschool"s Competition. The work Mark has taught me to manage my horse and myself will continue to stay with me for the whole of my riding life. He taught me many skills I didn"t know even existed and most of all made sure I was always enjoying myself and understanding what he was saying to me.
Thank you sincerely for all your time and dedication. This blue ribbon should really be awarded to you.

Testimonial

Hello, my name is Cheryl and I am a 52 year old lady and this is how my journey started with Rosemary & Mark...

When I was a young girl my older brother was interested in horses and when he was old enough, he bought a young horse of his own, which my father helped break-in. She was, as I remember, a very skittish filly and was as nervous with my brother as he was with her. I was always around whenever he or my father were doing any work with her, as I was always keen to help, but unfortunately, my brother"s fears and nerves quickly rubbed onto me.

Never the less, my passion for horses was still strong so I decided to have a lesson, a beginner"s ride, at one of Canberra's so called "top riding schools." Due to their inability to identify my needs as a novice rider, it resulted with them placing me on a horse that was totally unsuitable and un-educated, therefore giving me a distressing experience, leaving me with very little confidence in achieving my desire to ride. That was when I was around 12 and sadly the last time I ever rode a horse...

A very close friend visited from Queensland and wanted to take me riding as I had been contemplating giving horse riding another go. He searched the web and found Yarramba. Not being familiar with the area he asked me how far that was from Canberra. I said," it's not too far; it will be a lovely drive and we can make a day of it "... So we did !!

Rosemary & Mark were there to greet us with Dino and Diesel saddled ready to go. I was feeling more anxious than nervous, but soon felt at ease after meeting and talking with both Rosemary & Mark.

We had a lesson in the arena before our trail ride and on Ieaving the arena I was feeling safe and re-assured. Dino was the perfect gentleman, Rosemary was comforting and her gentle calming voice of reassurance instilled in me that I could do this; ( after thinking that I would never get back on a horse ever again) and yet there I was!! I soon came to realise that I was "ok" and in very good hands - which immediately made me feel less nervous and more relaxed. Dino only trotted when I asked him to and it didn"t matter which horse was first or last, Dino still only did what I asked of him. He was attentive, gentle, well mannered, completely sound and took great care of me. This is a true reflection of the manner and style in which their horses are trained and cared for.

We all had a perfect afternoon taking in the breathtaking scenery and enjoying a safe ride and encouraging instruction from Rosemary... but my backside was very relieved to be out of the saddle after two and a half hours!!

That day I decided that if I was going to learn to ride it would be at Yarramba with Rosemary & Mark.

I have been learning with both Rosemary & Mark for the past four months. I can"t believe how much they have taught me and how much I have accomplished in such a short time. I have been cantering now for the past 4 weeks and loving it !

This is something completely new to me, as I have never even trotted, let alone cantered on a horse before - I can't believe I can do it and with a huge smile on my face!!
I
cannot express how grateful I am that I got this wonderful opportunity to learn from such amazing people. They are genuine people with valuable life time knowledge for both horse and rider.

They have given me great self-confidence. They have been with me every step of the way and anyone that has had a bad experience on a horse, will know that it isn"t an easy task to climb back in the saddle no matter how many years between. Nevertheless, it is with immense joy that I can honestly say that my lessons with Rosemary or Mark is the highlight of my week...

My husband and I drive from Canberra every Saturday to Yarramba. Some people say to me, "Why do you travel so far? There are riding schools in Canberra!!" I simply answer, "Because I want to learn from the best and learn on horses that I trust completely."

Rosemary & Mark and their extremely well educated horses, their horsemanship, dedication and commitment are second to none, so why would I want to go anywhere else. Each week I learn more and more, growing more and more confident, learning to be more assertive, learning correct leg techniques, correct rein control and most importantly balance. This is a confidence I never thought I would achieve, but with great heart warm thanks to Rosemary, I have achieved this milestone in my life at 52. I just wished I had met Rosemary & Mark all those years ago, however, I am extremely thankful and proud that I have come to know them now. I trust them completely, I admire their patience, they are true confidence builders, they are totally dedicated to teaching the correct techniques and riding skills with clear instruction and encouragement, along with their life experiences and accomplishments they are able to teach everything about horsemanship.

I will be friends with them and their wonderful horses for many years to come. I don"t believe I would have achieved this mile-stone without Rosemary & Mark and I thank my friend Denis who travelled so far and found them for me.

and so my journey continues...

For anyone, of any age, who is contemplating learning to horse ride or wanting to expand their knowledge, riding skills or to simply start from the absolute beginning like I did, or just want a safe trail ride through the spectacular high country, I can"t emphasize enough, do yourself a favour and visit Rosemary & Mark at Yarramba - it will be the best thing you ever do !!