Local farm hosts clinic with renowned trainer

A local farm will host three days of horse training events featuring both a former Olympian and an up-and-coming South Kitsap teenager this weekend at its facilities near Banner Forest.

“We are primarily a training barn,” said Maggie Mittuch, explaining that she bought the farm on Overaa Road five years ago with her husband, Nelson. “I grew up six miles from the farm, so it was like coming back home.”

This weekend’s event begins Friday and will include three days of training for “primarily green horses and riders,” Mittuch said.

On the first day, she said visiting trainer and coach Robin Hahn will concentrate on getting the riders and horses to relax and feel comfortable with the movements and each other.

The second day, she said, the group moves on to “gymnastics” — jumping fences and doing turns — which all leads up to the third day.

“The last day is pretty exciting, because you have riders developing more confidence in themselves jumping more than they thought they could,” she said, adding that she particularly enjoys watching young girls gain confidence in themselves and their abilities by riding.

“I remember what it did for me, and it is really inspiring to watch our young girls develop a sense of power,” Mittuch said.

Just one of those success stories, she said, is South Kitsap resident Amber McCluskey, a 14-year-old student of her husband’s whom Mittuch said just completed her first international competition, and was the youngst rider competing at the West Coast Young Rider championships.

Each day’s events begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 6 p.m., with a lunch break in between.

All the activities will be inside.

“During the winter, because of darkness and uncertain weather, we hold the events in our indoor arena,” she said, adding that spring clinics are typically held outside.

The public is invited to watch any of the events for free, and those with more experience may be able to help set up fences or volunteer in other areas.

All the riders for this weekend’s clinic have already been scheduled, but Mittuch said anyone interested in training during their February or May clinics can contact her.

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