Imagine loping your horse through single track trails, swimming him across Oak Creek and then ascending to the base of majestic Cathedral Rock. At Verde Valley School you can do all of this on a single afternoon trail ride.
Keely Bates, Class of ’10
The equestrian program and the IB were the two top reasons why I came to VVS. What really sets our horse program apart is the camaraderie among the riders. We’re so close. We don’t ride or compete as individuals. We compete as a team.
Our equestrian program boasts some of the most stunning riding terrain in the nation, and perhaps the world. Surrounded by thousands of acres of National Forest, VVS’s backyard has limitless potential for learning and adventure.
VVS offers one of the most diverse recreational riding programs at the high school level. At the heart of our equestrian program is the belief that horses are amazing teachers and master communicators, and that riders learn invaluable skills from them. Our goals are to create a strong connection between horse and rider, and to expose our students to a variety of riding disciplines, events and terrain. Ours is a “liberal arts” rather than a specialty or trade school type of program with an emphasis on natural horsemanship.
Riders learn daily horse care, stable management, are responsible for morning and evening feeding, and participate in all facets of the barn operation.
English, Western, and bareback riding (both in the arena and on the trail) are offered daily and at all levels from novice to experienced competitors. Riders have opportunities for jumping, playing pato and horse soccer, practicing gymkhana events, swimming with the horses across Oak Creek, and galloping endless miles of stunning trails. Riders are encouraged to put themselves in a wide range of situations with their horses in order to establish greater levels of understanding, connection and trust.
VVS riders train for several competitive events throughout the year. In 15 years of endurance racing, VVS has finished consistently in the top 10 at almost every race in which we’ve participated, winning the coveted Best Condition Award, the highest honor in endurance racing, three times. Our riders compete monthly on the Central Verde Gymkhana Association circuit and in local English schooling shows in Flagstaff and Scottsdale.
Weekend riding opportunities range from individual private lessons, to 2-3 hour trail rides, and all day picnic rides. Weekend rides are open to all VVS students, not just those in the afternoon riding program.
Full-moon “Moonlight” rides are open to all students as are overnight horse camping trips, de-spooking clinics, groundwork and “join-up” clinics, and weeklong horse camping trips during Project Period.