Equestrian center galloping along since 1972

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  • Christine Land, manager of Spring Valley Equestrian Center, with one of the farm's horses (Photo by Laurie Gordon)

  • A happy horse at Spring Valley (Photo by Laurie Gordon)

NEWTON – Their eyes almost appear to glow as they circle their corrals and canter down the wooded Paulins Kill Trail or jump obstacles at the farm. These are the horses of Spring Valley, an equestrian center that sits above a lake in a wooded glen in Newton. It's been home to countless horses over the years, seen people who have come in for lessons return with their kids and even grandkids, and has been thriving since 1972.

Spring Valley is owned by Marie Cotton and her husband, Chuck McWhirter, but the wind beneath its wings is its manager, their daughter, Christine Land.

Land has spent her life on the Spring Valley Farm. As a young woman, she developed a love of riding and became a skilled horsewoman, competing and eventually giving lessons to other young riders. Spring Valley considers her “the heart and soul of the business.” Land oversees the day-to-day operations of the center, from scheduling lessons, organizing group events, boarding, directing the summer horsemanship camp, and she is a counselor for the Boy Scouts of America for the Horsemanship Merit Badge.

“My mother was dabbling in real estate and came across the farm for sale,” Land said. “It was always a horse farm, and given the structure of the main house, we think it was once included a bed and breakfast. The history here is rich and it's been a pleasure to build Spring Valley as we have.”

Spring Valley offers trail rides all year long.

“We start with a little practice in the barn to make sure our riders are comfortable and then head down to the Paulins Kill Trail,” she said. “The trail rides are a great way to learn about riding horses and enjoy some fantastic scenery. We can also arrange for more intimate rides with just family or friends.”

She noted the trail's popularity among local residents as well as those who travel from the city for a day in the country.

"We have miles and miles of maintained scenic trails for horseback riding along the historic Paulinskill Valley Trail which dissects our property," she said. "Each season of the year provides a different view of nature. You should be on the lookout for deer, turkey, and other abundant native wildlife. Enjoy the cool temperatures of the shaded and wooded trail in spring/summer and the vibrant changing leaves of the deciduous trees in fall. We can accommodate all size groups and riders of different riding abilities.”

Children must be at least eight years old to ride on the trail.

Spring Valley has multiple rings where riders can take lessons. Lessons can be a half-hour or hour and are tailored to meet the rider's level and interest.

“We offer both English and Western style horseback riding and are a premier equestrian facility,” Land said. “We take safety seriously and are the only inspected and licensed center in Sussex County following the State and County regulations for our summer camps. The farm is inspected yearly to ensure compliance. We require and provide helmets for all of our riders with their comfort and safety in mind.”

Spring Valley offers a host of horse services including horse leasing.

“This is something unique to our area,” said Land. “For a nominal fee (in addition to board) you can lease a horse to call your own. This is a great program to find out if you and your child are ready for the responsibility of horse ownership. Our leases are exclusive. You will be the only one riding your horse during the lease period. Our lease program starts at a six-month minimum.”

Spring Valley offers full boarding and pasture boarding. Full board includes stall, feed and water, stall cleaning with bedding, and daily turn out in either individual paddocks or pasture. Pasture board includes feed and water daily, hay available at all times, and run in shed. All boards include use of facilities: including rings and jumping course, round pen, indoor arena, two headted lounges, trailer parking and access to miles of trails on the Paulinskill Valley Trail (formerly part of the New York-Susquehanna and Western Railroad).

Summer camps are full or half-day sessions. For those who select their full day camp session, a Student Horse Show is held the last day of that session week, and parents, friends and family are invited to see the skills that the students have mastered. Students receive awards to acknowledge their progress. Half day camp sessions conclude the week with a scenic, full-hour trail ride.

Year-round, two-hour birthday parties are also offered; During the first hour the birthday child and guests take turns riding while instructors individually teach them the basics. The second hour, children and their guests open presents, enjoy cake or whatever plans they wish.

There is an on-site Tack and Togs Shop with a full line of Western and English tack and apparel, as well as gently used tack and clothing, and gift certificates, and special discounts including for 4-H members.

For information about Spring Valley or to schedule a lesson, ride or party, call 973-383-3766 or visit http://www.springvalleyequestriancenter.com. Spring Valley Equestrian Center is located at 56 Paulinskill Lake Road in Newton.

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