Where kids ride high in the saddle

890 Peekskill Hollow Road
Putnam Valley, NY 10579

Hollow Brook Riding Academy News


Hudson Valley Rail Trail Rides and Horse Riding Lessons

Hudson Valley Rail Trail Rides and Horse Riding Lessons

Take a trail ride or horse riding lesson at … Hudson Valley stable

By Rosemary O’Connor

Hudson Valley Magazine April 24, 2012

Pony up: Timid riders get kid-glove treatment at the Hollowbrook Riding Academy in Putnam Valley

Who hasn’t watched an old Western and wanted to be the cowboy (or cowgirl) tearing through the open range on a trusted steed? While you can’t travel back in time, you can recreate the experience by taking a trail ride or riding lessons throughout the Valley.

Hollowbrook Riding Academy, Putnam Valley
This stable gives trail rides in nearby Fahnestock State Park to those who can prove that you’re an experienced rider. Specializing in timid riders, the staff spends time getting people and horses comfortable with each other before teaching more advanced techniques. Parents will love the reduced prices in honor of the stable’s 16th anniversary: A 10-lesson package can now be purchased for the original 1996 price of $350. 845-526-8357; www.hollowbrookriding.com


Riding Academy Round-up for Special Kids

Riding Academy Round-up for Special Kids

by Catherine Garnsey
Rafael smiling!

The Hollowbrook Riding Academy on Peekskill Hollow Road in Putnam Valley is known as the place “Where Kids Ride High in the Saddle,” and that was certainly apparent on Saturday afternoon as a group of special education students participated in a cattle round-up there as part of their program in adapted horseback riding. Sponsored by SPARC, Inc., “Special Program And Resource Connection” of Yorktown Heights, this 7-week course is designed to introduce special needs children and teenagers to a new and exciting recreational activity that they may not otherwise experience.

According to the coordinator, Diana Firestone, “Adapted horseback riding gives participants new skills, a sense of accomplishment and a love for animals. Professional instruction in basic riding techniques helps riders gain independence while improving balance, coordination and concentration.” The youngsters even get to groom the horses and interact with the other farm animals as part of their experience. “Many of these kids were afraid of animals until they came here”, Diana added. SPARC is a notfor profit agency, founded in 1989, dedicated to the provision of high quality Therapeutic Recreation for individuals with disabilities.

For Eric and Lorraine Sundberg, the owners and instructors of the Academy, the cattle round-up on Saturday was a chance for them to celebrate their special needs students by offering them a real cowboy experience. Eric explained, “We are having this event for these kids because they really deserve the recognition for all of their hard work and accomplishments.” He continued, “This is the only stable in the Lower Hudson Valley to offer Western riding instruction. We are trying to keep the Western tradition alive because it is much more laid-back than the English Riding schools where students are taught to compete in dressage competitions. This is all about learning to ride a horse, getting the horse to respect you and to respond to your commands, and enjoying the trail rides together.”

At the start of the round-up, Eric rode his quarter horse, Simon, into the corral and drove a small herd of Texas Longhorns to one side. He then explained to the group that the object of the round-up was to separate one of the cattle from the herd and to drive it into a pen on the other side of the corral. The students took turns attempting the task, riding on Simon who was led by Eric for safety. The cattle clearly did not want to be singled out from the herd, huddling together and turning their backs on the riders, but with the skillful maneuvering of the horse, and a lot of waving and yelling, one cattle was finally separated. The student rider then drove the steer across the corral and into the pen with unmistakable satisfaction. Cheers erupted from the crowd of admirers, made up mostly of parents and siblings. One of the Saturday afternoon cowboys, Jerry Arenas, summed up the sentiments of the day, “This is great! Oh, yeah!”

For more information visit hollowbrookriding.com.


Journal News Article - Hollow Brook Farm takes kids for a ride

Harold Gutmann
 The Journal News

PUTNAM VALLEY - Eric Sundberg said that he always wanted to ride horses while growing up in Yonkers, but never had the chance. By creating the Hollow Brook Riding Academy in Putnam Valley, Sundberg is making sure that other youngsters won't miss out on the opportunity.

Hollow Brook teaches Western riding, which Sundberg said is safer and more relaxed for children, and easier for a beginner to learn than the more common and regimented English riding. Sundberg and his wife, Lorraine, have run the academy, one of the few in the area to offer Western riding, for 12 years.

"We're here for the kids," Sundberg said. "You can see how happy the kids are here. Kids are our future. If we can keep one kid off of drugs ..."

The Yonkers native went to college in Connecticut, worked in Eastchester and is now settled in Putnam Valley. And yet somewhere along the way, he picked up a Western spirit, and he has done his best to bring that to the Lower Hudson Valley.

Clad in a cowboy hat and boots, with country music playing in the background, Sundberg teaches children as young as 4. Besides keeping them out of trouble, Sundberg said that his academy teaches kids responsibility and gives them self-esteem, all in a friendly atmosphere.

Peekskill resident Hayley Rottenkolber has been attending Hollow Brook's summer camps and after-school programs for the past four years.

"We have so much fun in summer camp," Rottenkolber said. "We always do interesting things like barrel racing and bareback, and when we have a show at the end, it's a blast."

The sixth-grader has always been interested in horses.

"I think they're amazing," Rottenkolber said. "I love how they're built, and they're so gentle. They're gentle giants."

Rottenkolber said that the experience of riding a horse for the first time is "awesome."

"It's always exciting, but especially if the horse is new," she said.

Each of the horses at Hollow Brook has lived out west on ranches, and Sundberg tests them to make sure they are compatible with kids.

"We teach natural horsemanship," Sundberg said. "There's no bit in the horse's mouth. It's a lot more relaxed. The horse is more responsive. You're a partner with that horse for that hour."

Hollow Brook, located about a quarter-mile east of the Taconic State Parkway on Peekskill Hollow Road, also teaches kids about horse safety, grooming and first aid. It has three riding rings, including an indoor ring that can be used year-round during inclement weather.

Hollow Brook also offers adult lessons and trail rides for experienced riders that go through the mountainous paths of Fahnestock State Park. If it gets enough response and the price of feed is reasonable, the Sundbergs also hope to restart a program for people who want to move cows while on horseback - anyone between the ages of 5 and 65 interested in working cattle should call 845-526-8357.

But its most popular offerings are the youth programs, which feature trail racing, barrel racing and team penning. It even offers therapeutic riding for handicapped children.

"We're more relaxed - let's have fun," Sundberg said. "There's no pressure, no competition between kids."


Best Of The Hudson Valley 2007

*Place for Kids to Learn Horseback Riding*

Hollow Brook Riding Academy

Putnam Valley

It’s just off the Taconic State Parkway, but this great horsey hangout might as well be in the old Wild West. One of the few places in the Valley that teaches Western-style riding (as opposed to the formal English style), kids love the academy’s relaxed, friendly atmosphere as they learn to feel at home in the saddle. From an introductory lesson to a three-week camp which culminates in a horse show and cowboy barbecue, kids are happy as they access their inner cowboys and cowgirls. Scenic trail rides are available for cowpokes over 12. 845-526-8357; www.hollowbrookriding.com


A touch of the west in Putnam Valley

by Brad King

There is no reason to go any further than the Hollow Brook Riding Academy to feel like you are in the rugged New Article a bout Cowboy Campfreedom of the mighty west.

Nestled on 22 acres off Peekskill Hollow Road in Putnam Valley, the riding academy offers Western riding lessons, pony rides, horse training, trail rides all entwined with snippets of western history and philosophy provided by owners Eric and Lorraine Sundberg.

"My goal and my wifeís goal is to educate the public about horses and the west," Eric Sundberg said from the mount of his horse while giving lessons.

"I wanted a western atmosphere in Putnam. We are trying to teach the values of western riding and the culture," he added as students took stride on top of beautiful horses.

The Sundbergs opened their business six years ago and have approximately 200 students year round. Each year the business has grown, mostly by word-of-mouth.

Beginning last month, the Sundbergs started their annual summer camp program.

"This is better than kids sitting at home on-line, and better than kids going to the mall," Sundberg said.

However, this year they wanted to try something different and rented nine Black Angus cattle to enable students the opportunity to have hands on experience in wrangling and herding.

"We are just trying to do something different than kids riding around in circles," Sundberg explained.

"Horses are America. The west is America and that is what we are all about," he said. "We are getting the kids involved with horses and teaching them about horses, how they think and how to be safe. We are here for the kids."

Sundberg, originally from Yonkers, said he has more than 35 years experience with horses and said his love for the equines came from his father who was a native Texan.

The summer camp program, which runs until the end of August, is open to children five years old and up.

Last Wednesday, a handful of young girls, who were enthusiastically learning the ropes, bonding with horses and herding cattle, took a break to comment on the program.

"This is the only western cow farm in Putnam County and is the only place you can get real experience with cows and I love it," commented Franny Visintainer, 12, of Yorktown.

Fellow rider, Kate Grifo, 12, of Hastings-on-Hudson concurred.

"Itís really fun but you really have to click with the horse you are riding and sometimes it is hard," Grifo said of wrangling, adding she was happy to have herded two cattle on her second attempt.

Grifo explained her favorite horse to ride was a brown and white male named Sunny. The other girls nodded in agreement, one calling out, "Sunny is the best."

"I like Sunny because Sunny likes to bite their (cattle) butts and he gets them right out there for you," Grifo remarked with a laugh.

Mary Gansfuss, 10, of Cortlandt explained it was important to develop a relationship with a horse in order to effectively wrangle.

"The horses need to know you in order to trust you. You have to be comfortable around the horses in order for the horses to be comfortable around you because they know what you are thinking," Gansfuss said.

Gansfussís mother, Mary, gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to Sundberg while picking her daughter up and said, "This is the best place you can bring your kids, it truly is."

Sundberg added with a smile as the girls were leaving for the day, "The parents love what we are doing and they know it is safe and fun."

Out of the 200 yearly students, Sundberg said nearly 95 percent were girls.

"I am trying to get more boys riding but it really is a girl sport at this age," Sundberg said.

Most of the 18 horses on the ranch are approximately 10 years old and are known as quarter horses because that breed, that got its name from quarter-mile racing, is the best historically with children and beginners.

Horses have a life span of approximately 30 years and weigh roughly 1,000 pounds at maturity, Sundberg explained.

Safety is paramount at the academy and Sundberg said incidents, like the one involving the paralysis of Christopher Reeve, slowed horse riding and created fears in past years.

"That did kill the business for awhile but it is coming back and I am trying to do my part to keep it alive," Sundberg said of Reeveís unfortunate accident.

Sundberg said he personally rides every horse to determine how the horse will react to inexperienced riders and has sent certain horses back to pasture if they do not pass his test.

The academy is in the process of applying for a special permit to create a year-round indoor riding ring so students can continue with certain lessons despite inclement weather, Sundberg said, adding he hopes the permit is approved by this fall.

Hollow Brook Riding Academy is open seven days a week and Sundberg encourages those interested to visit the ranch and "Live that cowboy dream."

For further information, rates and scheduling, call 845-526-8357 or visit www.hollowbrookriding.com.

©2002, The North County News. All Rights Reserved.


Putnam County News - Kids Learn To Ride Western Horses And Herd Cattle In Putnam Valley

by Edward Paul Greiff

Lisa Sommers, age 11, learns the "ropes" of cattle herding at Hollow Brook Riding Academy

Kids Herd Cattle at Hollow BrookLast Tuesday, August 13, was a hot steamy day, with temperatures well into the upper 90's. Most kids would want to jump in a pool and cool off, but not these ten and eleven year-olds - they wanted to ride their favorite horse. The youngsters were practicing how to use their horsemanship skills to cut a single steer out of the herd and drive him to the other end of the corral.

Afterwards, the kids took time out to cool off as the cattle drank cool water from a trough, and horses got hosed down, groomed and put back in their stalls to rest.

Six years ago Eric, his wife Lorraine Sundberg and their three children bought the Hollowbrook Riding Academy on Peekskill Hollow Road in Putnam Valley. They had spent their entire lives with horses and now wanted to do something different besides teaching a kid how to ride a horse around in a circle. That is when they came up with the idea of herding cattle.

"I want them to learn what it's like to work animals. It may be the wrong part of the country but kids love it," says Eric Sundberg. "I want to teach the kids how to be one-on-one with the horse. Western horses are your partners. Western horses know how to react to kids more than any other horse. They feel it, they sense that a kid is riding them."

Eric and Lorraine Sundberg tell a story about their daughter, who two years ago had her horse fall on top of her. "That horse positioned himself so when he fell he wouldn't hurt her. As soon as we got her out the horse got up. We thought the horse had a heart attack and died. It's not natural for a horse to be lying down like that."

Mr. Sundberg gives instructions to his horse buyer that all his horses have to be "Kids' horses - if you can't ride them bareback and with a good lead halter, I don't want them." He also insists on his horses being working western ranch horses that have been out west. "They really take care of the kids, and they know if a kid doesn't sit straight, they won't do anything. We take them on trails when they're ready. They go up to Fahnestock, there are two to three hours of trails out there, but they're for experienced riders only."

The Sundbergs teach children of all ages - the youngest is four and the oldest is thirty-eight. Lisa Sommers, an eleven year old, says she has been riding since she was nine years old and had tried English style, but found that to be boring. "Here it's fun," she says. "Here we learn how to jump over poles on the ground, go through cones, do a turn around and go backwards, play musical horses like musical chairs, run-jump off, and switch horses, herd and tend the cows, ride bareback, and ride backwards where your back is facing the horse's head and you hold onto the back of the saddle."

Lorraine Sundberg said, "The parents of the kids here back us up 100%, they believe in everything we do." She added, "Kids have respect for the horses and the horses have respect for them. I think if you teach a kid a love for animals and respect for animals they have self-worth, they have self-respect for themselves. We build their self-esteem here and we build their self-confidence."

Eric Sundberg has a smaller riding corral measuring sixty feet by one hundred feet. This fall he plans to put a vinyl cover over it so the children can ride all year round. "I want this place to be so busy," he says.

Lorraine Sundberg's comment sums up what they do when she said, "I see the way kids look at Eric and the way he teaches a child. You know that kid's going to look back in thirty years and say wow, I remember Eric teaching me how to ride that horse. And that's something they will always have."

Their next big event and open house is scheduled for Sunday, September 8th. Call (845) 526-8357 for more information. Once you try riding a western quarter horse, you might be hooked for life.

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