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Lessons are the 'mane' attraction at Patriot Farms

By: Margaret Snider, Special to the Loomis News
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By the flair and meticulous care with which Karen Hannum runs her equestrian facility, Patriot Farms in Granite Bay, it seems she must have been born on a horse. Actually, Hannum’s extensive experience began when she rode with her children as a family activity. When her son Jonathan was 9, they went out on a trail ride from a local stable. “All of a sudden, Jonathan’s horse just turned around and started running back to the barn as fast as it could,” Hannum said. She cantered after him, she said, crying in anxiety. He’s going to be dead, she thought. “I’ll never forget,” she said. “He was standing on the hill, a silhouette, and the sun (behind him), and I rode up and I said, Oh my gosh, are you all right?” He looked at her with a big smile. “That was rad!” he said. Now he breeds World Cup class horses in Louisville, Ky. Hannum says that Patriot, founded in 2001, is the only “barn” in the area that has eight lesson horses — most facilities have one. “We have lesson horses for all ages; for 5-year-olds two ponies that are totally bomb-proof. Safety is the number one issue … We really focus on the kids’ activities, and taking kids, starting age 5, all the way through.” Seven-year-old Lauren Garbi of Loomis recently started riding lessons as part of her home schooling program. “I like riding the horses,” she said — she always knew she would do something like this. “It’s good for the kids to work with animals,” said her mother, Sandra Garbi. “They develop a bond … She thinks about getting a horse of her own all the time. That’s her dream. It’s nice here, a beautiful place.” Kristie LaFreniere is the head trainer, and has taught hunter/jumper riding skills since 1996. “She’s a graduate of Colorado State University in Equine Studies,” says Hannum, “She studied in London and she’s ridden at the National Level, what they call the A circuit level … very patient, college graduate, educated. I think it gives the girls something to shoot for.” The center also has a birthday party playground, with trampoline and activities. The kids can ride, groom and interact one-on-one with a pony. One time, they had a group come out from Pacific Autistic Learning Center. “Some of (the kids) would be so scared they didn’t even want to touch the horse. We just took our time. We got them on, and you just saw their whole bodies relax … that integration of working with animals … it calms them, it’s very peaceful.” Hannum’s daughter Emily Warren has competed in horse shows and won several state competitions. She gives riding lessons, and will be getting a degree in veterinary science at UC Davis. In keeping with the name of Patriot Farms, Hannum’s other son, Justin, received a bronze star for his service as Commander of an Army Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mozul, Iraq. “I really do consider (Patriot Farms) like a community service,” Hannum said. “It’s really rewarding for me to watch a student who started here at 5 who is now at the local horse shows winning.” -------------------------------------- PATRIOT FARMS EQUESTIRAN CENTER What: Riding lessons, all ages, summer camps, birthday parties, horse training, equine rehabilitation and boarding Where: 6705 Barton Road, Granite Bay Phone: (916) 660-1811 E-mail: info@patriotfarms.org