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2006 photo of Nikki and DanaWHO WE ARE . . .

HorseSense is owned and operated by Nikki and Dana Surrusco. Click here to read about us and the rest of the staff at HorseSense.  We'Ve closed down our farm, but we're still based in the beautiful North Georgia mountains.


Learning LevelsAfter almost 14 years of operating a full-service riding school/boarding operation, we're pretty excited to take all the knowledge and resources from our physical riding academy and offer them online to students and other riding instructors through our Learning Levels program.rainbow level ribbon

Nikki continues to offer riding lessons and training on a freelance basis, working at several farms around North Georgia. We'll do occasional Level Up clinics at local farms for our students, and offer a few of our popular specialty clinics to local barns within a reasonable commute.

Our big plan, however, is to finally have more time to work on the Learning Levels curriculum. More good stuff to come!


The short answer: We ran an eventing-based riding academy that was centered on Pony Club principles of riding safety and horse management. You can get a good idea of our program from our videos and the photo albums on our Facebook page.

The longer answer: After operating our riding school and boarding operation for six years as "The Stables at Eagle Mountain" in Ellijay, we spent two years at Fowler Farm in Talking Rock, then moved to beautiful Hy-View Farm in Ellijay in 2013.

tacking up for lessonsWe developed the Learning Levels curriculum in 2006. As longtime Pony Clubbers, we taught USPC-based safety and horse managment principles -- but we needed a structured system for those students for whom Pony Club is not an option. (In a rural community, before USPC developed their Pony Club Centers, this was definitely the case.) So we devised a curriculum that worked for us, and tweaked it as our riding business grew.

By 2009, we started sharing our curriculum materials with other instructors: former students who were starting their own lesson programs, friends with established riding schools that wanted to add horsekeeping classes to their program. We created Learning Levels study guides to help both our students and those instructors. Meanwhile, our lesson business was BOOMING and summer day camp season took on a life of its own.

quadrille campBy the time we moved to our last farm in Ellijay in 2013, we had a perpetual waiting list for lessons. We added a few horses to the lesson string and still had more students than daylight hours could accommodate -- and we realized that one overwhelming benefit from the Learning Levels system is that our students are engaged and committed and we have very little attrition. Kids grew up with us and left for college or careers but still came back for lessons and camps and just to visit ; most of our teenaged students and all of our adult Boss Mares students are riding friends for life. We had the same students year after year for summer day camps; eventually we just expanded our Level Up camps to accommodate all of our regular students and had very little space for non-students.

As riding instructors, this was the barn family we'd always dreamed of having. But it was insanely busy.

At the end of 2017 we made the difficult decision to close down the farm and change both our hectic lifestyle and our business approach. We still love our barn family, and we'll stay in touch through lessons and clinics and barn parties. But after almost 14 years of operating a full-service riding school/boarding operation, we're pretty excited to take all the knowledge and resources from our physical riding academy and offer them online to students and other riding instructors.

. . . HOW WE DO WHAT WE DO . . .

bandaging practiceWe have lots of goals! We teach high standards of horsemanship to insure that both the horse and the rider have a safe and enjoyable relationship. In the barn, we promote the same high standards of horse care, with the belief that riders of all ages need a system of equine education to prevent unwitting abuse of the horse -- because in the end, it's all about making horses (and their people) happy.

Through weekly riding lessons, day camps, Working Student and Internship programs in our physical riding school -- and through our proprietary HorseSense Learning Levels curriculum, we've taught both young people and adults the realities of horse ownership and competition. 

In essence, we promote:

responsibility and commitment to the safety of the rider and the welfare of horse

a strong work ethic

the importance of goals and the sense of empowerment that follows achievement

the role of good sportsmanship in success

the rewarding relationship that develops between a trusting horse and a knowledgeable rider and caretaker


Emma and Nikki . . . AND WHY WE DO IT 

We think that being around horses is an invaluable way to teach kids lessons about life -- and it's wonderful therapy for us adults!  We were fortunate to learn many of those lessons from our experience with United States Pony Clubs.  USPC teaches its members to give back, both to the club and to the community.  This is our way of sharing the joy and fulfillment we've found in a life with horses.