For many little girls, having their own pony is a dream come true. Sarah Burnside's dreams weren't much different, only she was lucky enough to get her first horse at age 5.
As an adult, Burnside is working to make that dream come true for other little girls and boys by giving them the chance to learn to ride.
After being raised in Oregon -- where she and her family were "backyard" horsemen -- Burnside knew she wanted to be the best horse trainer she could be. She decided to find the person available to train her for her future profession. In 2001, she pursued a certificate program with the John and Josh Lyons Certification Program in Colorado.
"The Lyons are big-name trainers with more than 30 years experience," she said. "I received tons of training there."
Burnside later had the chance to do additional training with Aussie horseman Clinton Anderson, one of the biggest name trainers available.
"I fell in love with his methods," she said.
However, when she planned to put together her own training program, she kept her ideas toward the "natural horsemanship." But she didn't limit herself to one method of training, taking a little from many different trainers and incorporates it in to her daily routine.
"This is very important, because not every horse learns and responds the same way to one specific method of training, and may need a little extra TLC when it comes to understanding what's being asked of them," she said.
About eight years ago, Burnside moved to East County to live with a friend who also had moved to this area. She admits California was the last place she ever wanted to go, but because she's been here she has found it to be the perfect area to train horses and help young ones become future horsemen.
Over the past few years, after moving to Brentwood, she has found a location where she can train horses and teach children to ride. As with many businesses, when the local economy took a downturn, she noted that her business slowed, so she revamped things a little and put together a new lesson plan.
In this new lineup, which she calls Sarah Burnside Horsemanship, Burnside is teaching everything from how to ride to how to train a horse.
She teaches beginning to advanced Western and English riding, each offering methods to help build confidence between the horse and the rider. Programs can be taught using Burnside's training horse, or the rider's own horse.
Along with teaching children to ride, Burnside has also been working with a show horse for the past few years for a client.
"It really started with a horse that had training issues," she said. "It wasn't about showing him, but when we saw how much potential he had, we decided to give him a try."
Since 2008, this horse has been shown 10 times, winning a buckle at the 2012 EWA Silver Buckle Series Champion Open Breed show put on by the Appaloosa Horse Club earlier this month.
"It takes a lot of time, dedication and commitment to be a good horseman," Burnside said. "This type of a program gives children a chance to learn."
For more information, see http://trainingbysarah.webs.com/.
In our "Neighbors" series, we give you a personal look at the people who are serving your community. If you would like to nominate someone for this column, contact Judy Prieve at 925-779-7178 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.