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 We're pretty proud of our horses.  They work hard to make sure that our students are safe and happy, and they enjoy teaching young riders.

Since our horses live at pasture (not in stalls), you'll find them grazing with one of three herds: our Old Ponies, our School Ponies, or our Four Stooges. (We occasionally use horses from a fourth herd, the Boarded Ponies, owned by the Kiker family and a few of our students).

Scroll down to visit with each school horse.

Some of our horses are available for a half- or quarter-lease:  click here for more information.


heavenHEAVEN is the consummate games pony -- fast and flashy -- with many years of experience at Pony Club National Championships.  A 14.1 hh chestnut Arab/Quarter Horse cross, Heaven has been Pony Clubbed through the C levels, and can teach games, dressage, show jumping, and cross-country to intermediate and advanced students.  She's also a kind and forgiving instructor to young beginners.  Heaven will do almost anything for treats, and loves to perform tricks for adoring audiences -- ask her to show off her Spanish Walk!

We can easily remember how old Heaven is because she and Nikki are both the same age. (Hint: they were both born in 1986.) In fact, Heaven was our first and only school horse - the first pony that Nikki bought with money she had saved since she was 9 years old.  Don't tell Heaven she's an Old Pony, though! She still has plenty of get-up-and-go for Mounted Games -- and for racing up hills, her new favorite pasttime.

Heaven's favorite things:  Nikki, peppermint treats, mounted games, apples, trail rides, cookies, her BFF Sage (RIP), and learning new tricks that get you treats.

Watch Heaven play mounted games, dance at Quadrille Camp and jump at Eventing Camp on our Video page.

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hitmanHITMAN is a rescued pony (named for an unfortunate encounter with a hit-and-run vehicle) who has turned into a dependable little instructor. This bay grade gelding stands only 13.2 hh tall, but he has the heart and the determination of a much bigger horse.  (Maybe because he thinks he's a 17hh warmblood?)  Hitman teaches dressage, jumping, and cross-country, and has been Pony Clubbed to D-3 Level.  He has the most fun larking around at hunter paces and jumping with students advanced enough to stay on and RIDE.

As far as anyone knows, Hitman was foaled somewhere around 1990. The older he gets, the more mellow he gets. This is a good thing, because in his relative youth Hitman was kind of a thug. He still has latent wife-beater tendencies, and while he's usually a perfect gentleman with humans, he can't be trusted to play nicely with mares. Our Stooges herd was created for this very reason, and Hitman was the undisputed Boss Stooge for years and years. (In a recent coup, it became clear that Hitman could no longer kick his enemies and he was forced to relinquish the dictatorship to Jay, which he did with poor grace. He is still not talking to anyone else in the herd.)

Hitman's favorite things: his girl KK; peppermints; jumping; jelly beans (but not the nasty black ones); stomping in the water trough; hunter paces, foxhunts, cross-country phase in eventing and all other activities that involve running and jumping in open fields, followed by lots of peppermint treats.

Watch Hitman dance at Quadrille Camp and jump at Eventing Camp on our Video page.

Want to know more about the organization that rescued Hitman?  Check out our friend Cheryl's equine rescue group at -- and please consider sending them a donation in Hitman's name!

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biscuitBISCUIT is a 15.2 hh palomino Quarter Horse gelding who excels as a safe instructor for advanced beginner riders. He's too lazy for young beginners, but his quick wits and quirky personality still make him a favorite around the barn, especially when he's performing tricks like "kissing" and "smiling" for anyone who might have treats.  Rhonda has taught Biscuit other tricks, as well, but has made him happiest by teaching him to jump.  Then Maura and Shayla began to share a half-lease on Biscuit to help get him in better shape.  We've watched Biscuit turn into a promising dressage horse with flashes of lovely movement.  (On his lazy days, however, Biscuit is a ThighMaster, strengthening the rider's leg and teaching them resolve!)  It's been fun watching this horse evolve into a more versatile school horse.

Biscuit was born in 1996, which means he's no spring chicken - but he's still one of the younger horses in our lesson string. He has the personality of a teenage boy: sensitive and moody, but loads of potential when you can get him motivated. He's always been a bit of a loner, which is why he's in the Stooges herd. He's also a ham for the camera - we have more funny photos of Biscuit than any other horse!

Biscuit's favorite things: learning new tricks for treats, Rhonda and Maura (his favorite humans EVER), and finding new ways to get out of any work that doesn't involve jumping. Jumping is okay, particularly if you have treats in your saddle pad pocket.

You can watch Biscuit's debut at Quadrille Camp on our Video Page.

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ChaseCHASE is a big boy: he's a warmblood/Paint cross who stands 16.3 hh tall.  His owner Hannah is away at vet school, so Chase is working here as a lesson instructor and as Nikki's occasional show horse. After years in the hunter/jumper ring, Chase has learned dressage and cross-country. We love his working-man mentality and willingness to learn. Our students love his sweet, goofy nature -- Chase is the good-natured guy that everyone wants to ride over fences.

Chase was foaled in 1996, which makes him not young, but not yet elderly, so he is the linchpin of the School Ponies herd. His size makes him the Boss over the other geldings (but not over the mares, of course), and he's generally a benign ruler. Just don't come between him and his food, and everyone will get along fine.

Chase's favorite things: anything edible. Anything. Oh, and jumping, but please remember the treats. And strangely, dancing to music in Quadrille Camp. Of course, there were lots of treats then, too.

Watch Chase's new flatwork skills at Quadrille Camp, and his jumping at Eventing Camp, on our Video page.

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ApacheAPACHE came to us on loan for 2016 summer day camp from our friend Aly Rattazzi, and it was pretty much love at first sight, so he's staying with us indefinitely.

He's an old-soul Old Pony pinto-colored schoolmaster, born in 1992, with the patience of a saint. This is a good thing, because he's only 13.2 hh, which means he gets to teach all of the little beginners -- and THAT means that everything he wears is pink. Pink halter, pink saddle pads, even a hand-me-down pink zebra striped blanket. He's blind in one eye, so he can only see half of this pink stuff, and that probably helps.

But mostly he's a just sweet little guy and he's tolerant and affectionate with his juvenile fan club -- and with his quarter-lease love, Kadence, with whom he gets to jump and canter and learn tricks. We're hoping he has many more good years with us.

We already have a bunch of photos and videos of him in our galleries - more to come!


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ROMEO came to us without any school horse credentials, but we've actually known him for years; he attended several HorseSense camps and shows with his former owner -- and our longtime friend -- Brandy Yates. We've always liked his work ethic. When Brandy became a dedicated barrel racer, Romeo needed a new job, so we brought him to Ellijay to find him a new owner .... and, of course, now he belongs to us. We think he has the potential to be a great all-around school pony, even if he is one of our Four Stooges.

Like his namesake, Romeo is a good-looking guy:  bay coloring, standing 15.1 hh, with a body our vet calls "classic old-style Quarter Horse". He's laid-back and friendly with both humans and his Stooges pasture-mates. But don't be fooled by his good-ol' boy easy charm: this guy has some nice moves on the flat and he LOVES to jump!

When Romeo injured his suspensory ligament in the spring of 2015, we knew he'd have a very long rehab period and might never be able to do much jumping again ... but we're pretty fond of him, so we worked on turning him into a more beginner-friendly school pony to make the most of his new walk/trot lifestyle. To our surprise, he rebounded quickly and that slow, careful rehab conditioning (along with some expert help*) allowed him to strengthen and rebalance so that he now moves better than ever. We're thrilled that he's back to teaching jumping, and excited to see new potential in his flatwork.

Assuming, that is, that we can get him to stop playing violent games of tag with Jay.

Romeo's favorite things:  snuggling (and mugging for treats) with his quarter-lease buddy Mia; making sure that none of the other Stooges get more than their share of the food; runnning down the hill through the tall grass at breakneck speed (sigh).

Look for photos and videos of Romeo in our galleries - including his first outing with Mia at Chattahoochee Hills.

(*We're grateful for the time and expertise of our fabulous farrier, Jan Hester, our longtime friend and equine bodywork guru, Brooke Davidson, and our new equine dentistry expert, Lia. Contact info upon request!)

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MysteryMYSTERY is a gift horse in every way: she was purchased by our wonderful student Beth for us to use as a school horse. When Mystery first arrived in Nov of 2015 she had just been rescued from a neglectful lease situation. She was underweight with a host of health issues, but we could tell that she had a decent training and would be a good fit for our program. Once her health started to improve she turned into a safe and patient instructor for our Red Level students; after a full year of health, she's now a versatile walk/trot/canter mount and a fun, developing ride for our Blue and Orange Level students.

What's cool is that this pretty bay mare is currently our youngest horse: born in 2006, she's just entering her physiological prime -- but with the good Quarter Horse mind of an older, more experienced school horse. We're pretty much convinced that she was sent to us by both Zahtar and Sage, because she seems to be a perfect blend of their personalities.

Mystery is currently enjoying a quarter-lease with Journey, and it will be fun to watch them learn to show together.

Mystery's favorite things: Beth and Journey; her BFF Rhiannon; her School Ponies mentor Chase when he's not being a grumpy male, and snarling at poor Apache, whom she terrorizes for no reason we can understand. She's sweet and affectionate with every other creature on the planet except him. (Mares!)

Look for photos and videos of Mystery in our galleries - including her debut at Quadrille Camp with Beth.

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JayJAY came to us from our longtime friend and student Rebecca. Becca's family "rescued" Jay from their next-door neighbors in an effort to save their fences: young Jay, who was not yet gelded, kept breaking through the fence to visit the Kelley's mares! This prudent act quickly turned into an act of love as Becca put countless hours of groundwork into making Jay a respectable pony. She and Nikki eventually started Jay under saddle, and were amazed at his quick mind and willingness to learn.

By the spring of 2013, Becca was away at college and Jay's training had progressed to the point where he needed to stay fit, so he came to HorseSense for further training ... and became Nikki's "Christmas pony" by the end of the year!

Jay's a 14.0 hh haflinger gelding, born somewhere around 2004. He is a square little guy, with the classic haflinger palomino coloring and "apple butt", and the bushiest, most unmanageable mane we've ever seen.

There's still a bit of the hooligan in Jay -- and a complete lack of respect for fences -- but he has the potential to be an awesome little school pony. He's friendly and outgoing. He's curious about EVERYTHING. He seems happy to be learning to jump and to play mounted games. Nothing much fazes him. In fact, Jay is a pretty happy guy, particularly since he started doing fun stuff with his devoted half-lease buddy, Marissa. You can see many photos and videos of them together in our galleries -- especially at outside shows, where Jay seems to excell.

Jay's favorite things: endless games of Tooth Tag with Romeo, nuzzling anything that moves, finding the weak spot in any fence, clicker-training his humans .... and reveling in his new power as a the dark overlord of the Stooges herd, much to everyone's dismay.

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RHIANNON isn't ready to be a full-fledged school horse yet -- but she is a valued member of the HorseSense training staff, teaching our upper-level students equine behavior theory and patience.

Rhiannon is a 15 hh bay mustang mare, born wild and captured by the BLM when she was very young. She was adopted by Nikki's best friend, Lara Ruggles, who spent the past ten years training her to trust people and to adapt to life as a domestic horse. As a result, Rhiannon has a sweet, affectionate nature, with a deep-seated need for that special bond with her human. She's very smart and learns quickly, but still has occasional episodes of insecurity.

In spring of 2014, Lara sent Rhiannon from her home in Colorado to live with us while Lara travels the country as a singer-songwriter -- and Rhiannon immediately began the task of teaching Lexi the fine art of horse training. Rhiannon has done a good job with Lexi, teaching her that mustangs require a calm, steady hand on the reins and the patience of a saint in the saddle. The results are very encouraging, and we have high hopes that both of them will become competent eventers in time.

Nikki made a video of Lara's first reunion with Rhiannon during a visit to Georgia: watch it here on YouTube. 

Rhiannon's favorite things: Lexi; spooking at the scary chickens/cows/dogs/birds/whatever; ground work with lots of treats; all this green southern grass.

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MerlinWe're pleased to report that MERLIN, a former HorseSense school horse, has gone to live with one of our favorite families, the Settels. At his new retirement home he gets a sweet mare of his very own and HUGE amounts of food, which makes him a happy boy. We're pretty happy, too: he has a wonderful, caring family and we'll get to see him often. Win-win-win!

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The best way to honor a beloved school horse is to pass on the knowledge he gave you, so that other horses can know love and fulfillment. You are his legacy.

zahtarWe'll always be grateful that this amazing pony came into our lives: his influence on our lives and on the lives of countless students is immeasurable. We started our riding school in 2004 soley as a means of paying for Zahtar -- and look where he took us over the last 13 years!

When we first rescued him, he was 21 years old, skinny and depressed, with rampant anxiety and a bad haircut. When he passed out of this life at the age of 33, he'd had a whole second lifetime of health and happiness. Best of all, he knew he was loved, both by us and by the 300+ students he'd taught over the years.

SageSadly, we said goodbye in January of 2014 to our well-loved school horse, Sage. After a long, hard day of fighting colic and possible kidney failure, we could not let her suffer any longer... but she was surrounded by her loving HorseSense family to the very end.

Sage was a special girl who touched hundreds of lives in her 22 years, and we're grateful to have shared the last ten of those years with her. We were amazed by the outpouring of love from her friends -- what a tribute!