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Another benefit is the experience of volunteerism. Most South County equestrian programs welcome high school students who want to volunteer their time to meet their community service requirements. s Something for Everyone H Dennis Bright, Bright Ranch Horses grazing on Redwood Retreat Road. Along with 4H and Pony Clubs, South County boasts high- quality equestrian centers and some of California’s most respected professional trainers who offer horsemanship and riding instruction to people of all levels of skill, interest and economic means. Donna Russo was in the midst of pursuing a graduate degree in Fine Arts when she decided to take her life in a different direction. In 1997, she purchased WoodMyst, a 30-acre horse property in Gilroy. Today, WoodMyst is a base of operations for respected horse professionals including Bob and Lori McBride, who special- ize in Western disciplines; Dressage expert Tracey Lert; and Russo’s husband Ephrain Guzman, who starts and trains performance horses. “I wanted to have a place where clients could choose from a range of Western as well as English riding disciplines,” Russo said. “Ephrain has advised me along the way and we’ve continually added upgrades to the ranch over time.” Along with horsemanship and riding instruction, WoodMyst offers boarding and horse care services. Equine-assisted therapy programs are provided by DreamPower Horsemanship, a non- profit organization. G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E “We want our clients to be with horses for a long time and have a wonderful experience, so we advise them to lease a horse before buying one and take the time to establish what type of riding they enjoy and are comfortable with.” For parents who want to introduce their children to riding, Russo advises, “Safety has to be the top priority and the horses must be well cared for. There’s a lot to learn about riding and handling horses. A good trainer works to build a connection between rider and horse that builds trust and confidence in both.” As a teenager, Susan Crenshaw earned money babysitting to buy her first horse. During her late teens and 20s she improved her riding skills and competed at horse shows. Other riders often asked her for tips and help with their riding, and she realized she had a talent for teaching. Eventually she gave up an office job and her amateur riding status to become one of the best-known MARCH / APRIL 2015 gmhtoday.com 17