Pet Connections

Riding with Stars: Learning with Rhythm By Carla Mader

One of my favorite places to ride my horse has been at Manon’s Farm in Washington, PA.

Tom and Kim Manon owns a third-generation private farm with boarding and riding with rolling pastures abound for acres. Kim offers what I’d say, is the region’s best kept secret for boarding, riding and lessons, and especially for children. 

Kim by trade, has worked in hospice care for 12 years, so she gives all living (and especially aged people and horses), extra special attention and has adopted and rehabbed many horses and ponies.   The horses are individually cared for with her personal touch and love. The fresh air, home-grown hay and acres of pasture to roam, show in the clear eyes of the hooved guests, as they often can be seen happily frolicking in the meadows! 

Kim’s daughter, Kelly and grandson Jack, all pitch in with the care, training and instruction. Jack is, of course an avid student! Kim and Kelly have both shown Dressage, Hunter under Saddle and Western Pleasure. Safety, and the common-sense educational approach, as well as fun, are all key components to the successful way Kim runs her farm.

Kim’s caring extends to her boarders and riding students. The students range from age 4 to 11 years old. I was invited to Kim’s August “Riding with the Stars” event to see what the kids were so excited and talking about. 

I found that Kim has a very unique approach to riding lessons for children – utilizing music in an integrative fashion, to her lesson program. Kim has 3 lesson ponies, all of which are retired show horses and ranging in age form 19-26. They bring great joy and fun to these young riders.

Kim allows each child to learn at his or her own pace. Starting out on a lounge line, kids learn to go forward at a walk and trot. Once this is mastered, they learn to ride on their own, walking, trotting, stopping and backing. Three times per year, Kim uses music to motivate the kids with the events, Spring Fling, Riding with the Stars and the Christmas at Manon’s Farm. The kids dress up their ponies and pick a song to compete and perform what they have learned for family, friends and the judges. 

Choosing a song to ride to, makes it fun for everyone. Music helps the rider to set a pace, and use their riding aids to guide their horse through a routine. Dressage moves set to music, such as correct positioning, straight lines, circles, bending and diagonals make up the routines. Young riders enjoy watching others perform, as they learn how to ride and handle their horses.

Some of the student like Jamie Brady, Olivia and Elizabeth Clark and Molly McClay, commented when interviewed, on why they like learning to ride with music: “It helps me post – the beat”, says Olivia. And, “It’s fun and keeps me in rhythm with the gait of my horse”, Elizabeth said.

“I like dressing up my horse for the events, too”, says Molly, who also likes to “dance in the saddle”. My thought was that perhaps that will be a fun fad that will soon catch on at other barns!

One of Kim’s most responsive students and our cover star, Logan Smith, who once balked at showmanship, said he started to take lessons because he thought it would be fun, even though he was raised around horses.  He said when was asked to pick out his song, Kick the Dust, by Luke Bryan, that “it really became fun.”    

Logan was recognized at Kim’s “Riding with the Stars” for his accomplishments this past year, starting out as a member of the Silver Saddle Club and Silver Bits 4H Club. He worked hard this year with Kim to compete in 4H, qualified for District and State competitions and won second in show at Districts. 

He and His 15 year old rehabbed pony, Cody is a Peruvian Paso, made an impressive team, amongst experienced riders and expensive show horses. This beautiful and well-mannered pony had been retired to pasture when they found him. After weeks of re-training and lots of love, he has made a wonderful show pony.

Kim has found that working with the children and teaching them basic showmanship to riding a routine to a beat that resonates with them, really adds a special dynamic that and has made learning more effective, while making them feel like stars! 

Contact Kim Manon for more information regarding her lesson program at: | 724-255-8330


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023