The journey goes along sand roads far out in the Småland terrain, but suddenly it's there. The small riding school. Jenny Johnson's biggest dream is fulfilled, and almost 90 equestrians come for lessons every week.
From the beginning, there was only a residential building, an old barn, and a bus garage on Myrtorpet in Urasa, three miles south of Vaxjö. Today there are stables, a machinery hall, a paddock, and nice horse pens. Almost three years ago, Jenny Johnsson was taking a step towards her dream.
- I started my riding school in the summer of 2017 after maternity leave. For a long time, I had a dream about my pony riding school. I had previously been working at a riding school, and I felt that I wanted to do it my way, explains Jenny.
And now, she is doing it her way.
My life is fantastic!
If Myrtorpet had been a riding club, Jenny would have been its chairman, secretary, treasurer, and head coach, all in one. She gets considerable help from her husband Anders, especially now that their little son Titus, three months, requires a lot of Jenny's time. But she doesn't complain.
- My life is fantastic! It's' wonderful to be able to wake up, look out and see the stable, feed the horses, and talk to them. As a child, I dreamed of my horse, and now I have ten own ponies and two competition horses. I could never have believed that, says Jenny.
Is it enough time for you to do something on your own?
- I treat myself by going to my coach at Åland at least once a month. It's my own time, so I use it for charging my mental batteries by exercising. Above that, it is always lovely to get out early in the morning or late evening and cuddle with my horses or go for a ride.
We guess you must have plenty to do, from early morning to late at night. Is the tempo high?
- It is. I have pretty busy days, and some people get surprised when they see that I sent them an e-mail at half-past two at night. At that time, I send invoices or reply to a submitted request; it's the way to go for business. It is nice to have control over everything yourself and, at the same time, difficult to be free. But I get lots of help from many girls who line up and relieve. Anders is my sounding board; I want to go, and he pulls the brake. Sometimes it can feel a little frustrating, but it is a nice combo, says Jenny with a smile.
The small riding school has quickly gained popularity
The groups practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and special activities are organized at regular intervals. During one week, Jenny has almost 90 mountings with students between the ages of two and 14, and right now, there is no room for more. Training groups are occupied; over 30 children are on a waiting list. Jenny is living her dream.
- Running my riding school is the only thing I do, and it's great to be able to do it every day. The idea is that a young child should come here, start riding, and feel that it is fun to train and learn how to live with animals, says Jenny.
I hope it creates an interest in taking the next step a few years later and maybe starting competing on one of my ponies. It would have been fun to have a student who goes all the way to the Swedish championships one day.
What kind of training do the youngest get, the children who are only a few years old?
- We're riding without stirrups, working out balance, playing games like imitating aircraft, trees, helicopters, and safaris, with helmet covers that represent sharks and crocodiles. I continuously try to find new pedagogy for toddlers and look at how they do in other places and also how preschools work to get children to collaborate and grow. The important thing is that the children should feel that they are seen, that I am there for them and told that they had done something right.
Since Jenny is a dressage rider, most training consists of dressage, even if jumping elements are present. During the long days, especially during a wet winter like this year, it is essential to put on the right set of clothes. Uhip's collection fits perfectly into Jenny's riding school day.
- I like Uhip's clothes, they have useful features and are perfect as layer-on-layer clothes. I use the hand warmers very often, either when I ride in snow or rain or when I train and do lessons. Then it is helpful to pull down the warmers over the mittens. Many students have seen me in both skirts, jackets, and coats, says Jenny.
How do you combine a skirt, jacket, and coat?
- I start with a thinner layer that still keeps riding if I need to take off a garment. When I'm standing on the ground, I put on my coat and fold the hood down when it blows. Last week we had snow here, and I had four hours of lessons. Then I had Ice Jacket, skirt, pulled down hand warmers, and Muckboots on my feet.
Stable Pants is your latest item from Uhip. What do you think?
- Very nice! The pants are very elastic and feel like riding pants. I live in riding pants for twelve hours a day, and these felt very comfortable, pleasant, and compliant. I may not be able to carry a full dressage pass in them, but they work fine if I want to show some practice details during the lessons.