To Whom it May Concern,
I started riding at Sunrise Farms in spring 2014, and I couldn’t be happier that I found Mark and his stables. I had been riding off and on for 15+ years, and I thought I understood what it meant to be a good rider. Then I started riding with Mark, and I never knew I had so much to learn. Everything I was taught at previous farms was incorrect and worse, it was based on those farms keeping their riders happy as opposed to actually teaching the most basic (and difficult) skills. Not only that, but when I learned how bad those techniques were for the horses I felt sick to my stomach. After 1 lesson with Mark, it became clear to me that I had to hit the reset button and start all over and I’m so thankful I have done just that.
Mark takes the time to explain things to me, and I now understand why I react certain ways as well as why the horses react to my movements and commands. I had to go back to the basics, which is not easy considering I thought I had already tackled those basics. But riding Mark’s horses it became clear to me I did not in fact have the basics down the way I should have, from proper hands to proper weight balance and leg positions. Mark teaches lessons on his personal show horses, not stable hack horses that I was used to riding. He takes great pride in his abilities to train horses, especially those “problem” horses that most likely would be put down because no one can ride them. Riding a properly trained horse makes all the difference in the world, and learning how to ride a properly trained horse is probably the most difficult thing I have attempted to tackle in my adult lifetime.
Every week I learn something new, a lot of times it is the simplest of things that I should have learned in my first years of riding but most instructors do not teach proper riding. I am now looking forward to each lesson with Mark, and I can’t imagine riding anywhere else. I would highly recommend Sunrise Farms to anyone who wants to learn how to ride or to anyone who wants help training their horses.
I’m so thankful l I found Sunrise Farm. Mark’s knowledge about horses and horse behavior, paired with his ability to teach allows a rider of any ability the opportunity to LEARN! Mark has taught me more in my short time at Sunrise Farm, then the 8 + years I’ve had lessons elsewhere.
Why take lessons at Sunrise Farm? Mark sets his students up for success. If you don’t have your own horse, Mark allows you to use one of his own horses. (And, no these aren’t your typical “school” horses) They are well trained, and know voice commands. Mark even schools the horse you will use before your lesson!
Every lesson is a private lesson, which gives the rider the attention they deserve. Mark is really invested in teaching the rider all that he can. He does this very successfully-through funny analogies, asking questions (to the point you are able to pick out your own mistakes), and doing anything that he can possibly do to help you learn. This could include Mark going on the horse himself (if you are a visual learner), & allowing you to fully understand a concept (not just by repeating what he has told you, but by saying it in your own words and feeling it on the horse you ride).
I’m so excited I have found Sunrise Farm. I have rode with various trainers, including riding in college for IHSA, but throughout my years riding I found that I had many questions that weren’t being answered. Why was I consistently getting blisters on my hands? Why couldn’t I pick up the correct lead at times despite my hardest attempt? What was I supposed to do when my horse wouldn’t stand at the mounting block? All of these questions have been answered for me, and then some! I have definitely become a better rider because what I have learned from Mark and his horses. If you are looking for a place to ride were you can learn, Sunrise Farm is the place to go! Set up a lesson. You won’t be disappointed. J
April 29, 2011
Sunrise Farm might not be a fancy place, which might cause people to think that it doesn’t have the knowledge or the well trained horses that those other fancy barns have, but to make that assumption is totally inaccurate. The expertise of the staff at Sunrise Farm significantly exceeds any other barn I have been at. Not to mention the horses are exceptional and the most well trained horses I have ever ridden. I can’t begin to express how comfortable I feel at Sunrise Farm, how helpful the staff is, and how happy I am to have found Sunrise Farm.
Mark is my instructor and one of the best ones I have ever had. Mark’s understanding of horses and how to teach them was apparent to me from the first lesson that I had. Out of the many things I took away from that first day, the one thing that still amazes me today was this example: Timer was swinging her head around and doing what she wanted to do, standing there with no cross ties and Mark was about 3 or 4 feet away. All Mark had to say to her was “pay attention” and Timer picked her head right up and didn’t move until Mark gave her the next cue. I was amazed…a horse responding and actually listening to voice commands? Incredible! And that's one of the first things he teaches his horses.
Mark’s ability to train the horses carries over to how he teaches his students. Mark is very patient and teaches you what other instructor chose not to. I went from blisters on my hands from holding onto the reins so tight to stop a horse, to being so light that I am hardly holding onto the reins (although I am still working on that piece…) He really takes great pride in what he does and that enthusiasm carries over to his students. Not to mention his analogies are pretty funny and definitely give you the right prespective to help you improve yourself. The lessons are all private lessons, which is a huge plus because you get the one on one attention that you deserve.
Mark has successfully helped me to become a better rider. He ensures that I understand what I am doing wrong and how to fix it. He asks you a lot of questions, which really gets you thinking and pretty soon you start to point out your own problems. He truly cares about excelling the student’s knowledge, both on and off the horse. Mark and Sunrise Farm (Staff and horses) have not only fulfilled my expectations, but exceeded them. I look forward to my future with Sunrise Farm! =)
Some people do not believe these comments, I know I had hesitation and in some cases I was right, but Sunrise Farm is different. If you are thinking about choosing Sunrise Farm, but you are hesitant please feel free to call me! I am really a student and do not work for Sunrise Farm. Erin, 978-337-1968.
We moved to Pelham 4.5 years ago. My daughter, Peri,was starting 2nd grade. To help her transition, I allowed her to remain in her dance class and traveled the 45 minutes each way every Saturday. In June, I told her that Saturday classes weren't being offered for her grade and she would have to choose something up here. We looked at dance schools, but she really wanted to take horseback riding lessons. I looked into a few places.
Then Peri and met I with Sandi at Sunrise Farms. Both of us felt comfortable there and decided to try it. Peri loved it. I liked it, because she was taught to respect the horse and their surroundings-how to be safe not just to ride. She even got homework!! Her lessons included grooming and the reason for each task; the meaning of the horses movements and how to react; the effects of her movements/actions to the horse. Sandi would not allow her to move onto the next lesson until she had mastered the current one. At times, Peri got frustrated, but she realized that if she wanted to move on, then she needed to listen and work hard, which has become a life lesson. Not only has Peri learned to ride, she continues to learn and becomes a better rider with each lesson. Mark, Sandi and everyone at Sunrise Farm have been great instructors and a positive influence. I would recommend them to anyone and have.
Mary Armstrong, Pelham, NH
Horses and Absolut
By Melanie Grace Nesheim
“It’s either Ghandi, or the Incredible Hulk,” Mark said during my training lesson yesterday. I laughed out loud. If you’re curious about this, you want to take riding lessons from Mark Matyszyk at Sunrise Farm.
I called them “training” lessons rather than “riding” lessons on purpose. I’ve taken lessons from Mark for seven years. We’ve taught two different horses. Nowadays, it’s more about learning how to train horses than learning how to ride them. This is what I wanted to know from the beginning, and I love it.
What about the beginner who just wants to learn to ride, though?
Truly, every ride is a training ride: Your horse learns something from you whether you intend it or not. But setting training aside for the moment: It has taken me seven years to undo twelve years of incorrect riding. I wish I had learned riding with Mark from the beginning.
At Sunrise Farm a beginner learns how to stay balanced and secure on the horse. He or she is taught to feel the horse’s movement, to sit without pinching the knees and interfering with that movement. The rider learns to observe what his own body is doing. The rider learns to give cues softly and in time with the horse’s movement, and what to do if the horse doesn’t respond correctly.
Re-learning to ride improved my balance everywhere: on foot, on high heels, and on snow skis. The person who wants to become more coordinated in his or her own body, more aware, more relaxed in the body while more focussed in the mind, while doing something enjoyable outside with an animal, should take riding lessons at Sunrise Farm.
Back to learning horse training: “There are no absolutes except in vodka,” Mark is fond of saying. The following training example will illustrate.
In a recent lesson my horse Sunny started out very soft. At the walk he brought his head down and to the inside, rounded his neck, and softened his jaw as he was being asked. We walked several strides this way. “Give him a loose rein and pat him,” Mark said. (The horse has been taught this is his reward for correct behavior, his “coffee break.”)
Mark then asked me what we should do today to continue Sunny’s training.
I expressed concern that though he was soft, Sunny wasn’t forward enough. In a recent previous lesson, the lack of forwardness was a sign of resistance. He was not soft with his mouth and neck that day, and once he did become soft partway into the lesson, he slowed down at the walk. We then had to deal with the lack of forwardness.
I thought we were dealing with the same thing today, resistance to forwardness, but of course there are no absolutes…
After hearing my thoughts, Mark explained how we know today’s lack of forwardness is not a resistance. Today, Sunny was starting out amiable to being soft, with no stiffening of his jaw, unlike the other day. Mark explained if we encourage the softness to continue, the forwardness will come, because with the softness and roundness in the head and neck, Sunny will be able to relax and become more forward.
So on this day, we elected not to demand forwardness right away by using more leg and maybe destroying the softness at the start. Instead we walked as before, accepting the softness Sunny gave us at whatever degree of forwardness he gave us. After a short while of working correctly at the walk, we walked across the diagonal of the arena on a loose rein. We squeezed-and-released with the left leg, then right, then left… in time with Sunny’s left and right hind legs to get him to stretch out at the walk. Doing this got him moving more forward, and this carried through into the walk even as we slowly collected the head and neck again.
Almost as if by magic the forwardness at the collected walk was no longer an issue. It was there. Because we didn’t ruin the softness Sunny demonstrated at the beginning, by kicking right away, that softness and relaxation made it possible for him to reach more forward with his legs. The free walk across the diagonal encouraged this.
I like the way Mark asks the student questions, Socrates-style, about the next step in training the horse. When I get it wrong it shows me where my thinking went wrong, and when I get it right, I know I really know it. Training is about making judgment calls, and I’m still learning how to make them correctly.
The beginner and the training geek both enjoy Mark’s lessons. How about the intermediate rider?
The intermediate rider will find himself or herself doing two things. One is setting aside pre-conceived ideas, and the other is developing an interest in training. If you truly enjoy riding horses, with Mark you’ll find yourself drawn into the training aspect and it will make sense.
This rider will probably have to re-train his or her own automatic body responses, as I had to. But wouldn’t you like to learn how to halt at X in such a way as to tell your horse, we’re going to turn right at A? (I’m not kidding; there’s a very concrete way to do this; Mark will teach you how.) Wouldn’t you like to learn how to proceed from walk to trot just by lightening your seat and nothing else? The cue is invisible. How about the rider choosing the tempo of the trot? How do you tell your horse without using any rein, without dropping to the walk, “A little slower, please”?
You will learn how to have your horse respond to the lightest of cues. Because it’s light, both you and the horse can stay relaxed as you’re moving. Because you’re relaxed, the horse’s movement can become beautiful and brilliant.
I enjoy dressage magazines, but they’re frustrating. Beautiful photographs accompany wonderful descriptions of a balanced horse, softness and suppleness, an evenly arched neck… but I’m always left wondering, “Well, what if your horse just doesn’t do that?” At Sunrise Farm I’ve learned answers to that question.
Come to Sunrise Farm and learn from Mark about Ghandi, the Hulk, and vodka: how to ride, and how to train your horse in dressage.
To whom it may concern and all those considering Sunrise farm as a home for your equine:
I have found with my own experience at Sunrise a level of knowledge and caring that would be tough to find elsewhere I'm sure. Mark KNOWS horses. Plain and simple. His life spent with horses has obtained him a profound sense of equine behavior as it truly is in their natural state. Because of this he has a deep understanding of their mental state and what it takes to teach them how to be productive and sound animals. In his mind its comes easy. But for the rest of us who have a love of horses but were not blessed with this gift, he has patience and is actually willing to explain the process because he feels everyone should posses the knowledge. This I find is where he sets apart from the rest of the trainers. Where most are secretive in their ways afflicted with the "they need to need me" syndrome, Mark is more than willing to help each border further there education with instruction offered from him personally. After all, what good is a perfectly trained horse if only the trainer can fully utilize the horses potential? The bottom line? I am very happy with my choice to keep my mustang Comet in the hands of Mark and the rest of the staff at Sunrise Farm. They have gone above and beyond my expectations.
Sincerely, Kristie Tetreault
Thank-you so much for giving me very detailed instructions. I learned sooo much in such a short time. The lessons were very interesting, unlike any other barn that I have ever been to. I learned so much more about horses in a whole new direction and view point. I gained so much more horsey knowledge. In the past, I had never even thought about some of the new things that I learned from you, and now that I think about it, I wonder why I never thought about it. I really appreciated your lessons. Tell Freckles that I said thank-you! I hope to see you again when I get better, hopefully soon. I'll keep in touch!
Yuki, age 15
Loving to Learn by Laura Kenny
Galloping through an open field on the back of a huge animal with the wind blowing through my hair - this had been my dream since I was five. At the age of ten my parents finally gave into my begging and started me with horseback riding lessons at a near by stable. I stayed at thsi stable for five years, but then switched to another, smaller stable with a new instructor. After a year here, I had a falling out with my instructor and went to the barn I am riding with now. This search took much longer than expected, but after about three months of looking I found a new barn. My current instructor, Mark, has opened my eyes to a different view of riding and learning. Although many think that horseback riding is very difficult, as long as one has a good instructor it is quite easy.
In school, usually how much I will get out of a class depends on how good a teacher I have. In saying a good teacher I don't mean the kind I can walk all over and convince to never give me homework. I mean the kind of teacher that if I ask a question it will be explained to me thoroughly and repeatedly until I understand. When finding a horseback riding instructor the criteria should remain the same. I know from experience that sometimes doing this can take years. My previous instructors would just tell me to do something and not explain why I was doing it. If I tell Mark that I don't understand something he will explain in as many different ways as it takes for me to fully understand what he's trying to tell me. A good instructor will describe how, by having my body placed in certain ways I may be helping or hindering my horse's movement. When I'm riding, the horse and I are a team. I need to keep myself balanced to keep them sure of what I'm asking them to do.
Almost as important as how good an instructor I have, is the quality of the horse I'm riding. The best training and good bloodlines make up the perfect horse; much the same as a good instructor and good horses make up the perfect rider. It was very hard for me to learn how to do things correctly when I was on horses that were not sure of themselves. When I started taking lessons at my new barn I realized how good the horses were there, and it really helped me to learn and understand concepts more quickly. Currently I'm riding a very well trained horse. The horse I ride is a seven year old that was born at the farm. She is the most talented horse that I have ever ridden. She is not only talented but was trained very well and this is the reason that she is such an amazing horse. She is good quality not only because she does what I ask, but also because she won't do what I ask if I don't ask her correctly. She is a beautiful mover and because of this when I do something right it's almost like a reward, I finally feel what I've been trying to understand. After about three months of riding at this stable, I was trying a new exercise with Timer, the horse I've been riding, and I was finally able t totally relax. She felt how relaxed I was and this amazing surge of energy went through her. Timer began to swing her legs and extend her stride, I was no longer restricting her, it was the most powerful feeling!
As with most things, I can only get as much out of horseback riding as I am willing to put into it. When I began to advance in riding I knew it was because I wanted to and was putting in the effort. The more I put into riding the quicker I would catch onto things. At a recent lesson, everything just clicked and I completely comprehended what Mark had been trying to explain to me. With my legs and arms relaxed, I was able to feel all of Timer's movements as though we were one. I've put many hours and countless amounts of energy into riding, and I've really been improving.
Horseback riding was something that I put alot of time and energy into to get to the point at which I'm at today. Despite a few set backs, mostly bad habits developed from my previous barns, I've gotten to a point at which I'm happy. Every lesson I learn so much and a huge part of that is my instructor and the great horses that I am able to ride. The hroses that I ride are able to teach me just as much as my instructors do, but they do it in their own language, a silent one. Riding is an easy concept to understand as long as you are willing to put the time forth to find the right instructor who will teach you on quality horses.
The above is a school paper written by 17 year old lesson student, Laura Kenny.
To whom it may concern:
In July of 2000 I bought a Belgian/Thoroughbred gelding called Zeke, who looked like he had a lot of promise. My work at that time allowed me to spend time working with him. He had lost a lot of weight as the result of some prior neglect that he was starting to recover form when purchased him. He spent much of the next 6 months regaining his condition and slowly getting into work he could sustain. My work environment changed and I found I was not able to devote the amount of time required for him to continue to progress and I resorted to leasing him out to several riders. That too became too inconsistent so I started thinking about selling him. He was at that time still a very hard ride, boring into the hands, not balanced, sometimes racing at the canter with his head up. You spent most of your time carrying him around, not the reverse. Those who came to see him were usually not a match for his strength, often lacking the tools to provide him with the schooling he required.
It was at this time that I heard about Sunrise Farms and Mark Matyzsyk from one of Zeke's riders. Sot he course was set to see if Mark could turn him around and provide Zeke with a life worthy of this sweet and honest guy. With in a month the changes had begun. He wasn't the bully he tried to be in the isle anymore. His manner had changed and he was clearly happy. Working around him on the ground was a pleasure and it would not be long before he could be tacked up standing free of cross-ties, bringing his head down to the bit and bridle. His work under saddle had also shown some changes and while Mark had clearly seen a need to take him back to basics for a variety of reasons, his way of going had improved dramatically. Over the next few months, employing draw reins, reshoeing, dealing with some issues with his teeth and gently working him towards gaining control of his balance without fear of the bit or hand he changed. His physical appearance had changed through muscle developement in his kneck, chest and hind end. His paces were varied and controlled. His canter no longer changed behind and the drag that was once evident at all gaits in his hind feet was replaced with a lifting, reaching step. His elasticity had been turned to advantage his balance and his immense stride had not been sacrificed for his balance but incorporated as his natural way of going. It is a wonderful thing to see such a transformation.
Zeke still has a great deal to learn but he has shown me that he has a good mind and athletic ability, willing and capable of bending them to the tasks required of him. Mark posesses a deep respect for the horse and what it can do. That respect along with a deep professional knowledge of how to move it towards greater balance and comfort with its work and his love of the challenges in "difficult horses" have provided Zeke with an opportunity to be much more than he was only 5 months previously. He has moved him back to a normal baseline from which he may progress. I was finally able to sell him to someone whom I could trust to develop what I believe I had first seen in him. Mark will be showing Zeke this year.
My gratitude and Zeke's
July 19, 1998
To whom it may concern:
SEGAR, my Arabian horse, has been a part of our family for years. He has had a wild streak in him until recently, when I placed him in the capable hands of SUNRISE FARMS, upon the sudden death of my father, his caretaker, in March of this year. I mulled over the idea of selling SEGAR, but there remained the memory of my Dad taking care of him, and I decided upon the option of having him trained properly. SEGAR, who was trained by the former owner was never taught to relax. MARK of SUNRISE FARMS had my horse just a week when I saw a big change in him. No longer tense and ready to run, he started to show an immense improvement in his manner. I thought I knew alot about horses, as SEGAR was my second horse, but after seeing how he is responding to the wonderful and gentle training he is receiving, I know I hae a great deal to learn. I am overjoyed at the change in SEGAR, and can compliment SUNRISE FARMS and MARK for the vast improvement in my beloved SEGAR.
Now, I feel confident that SEGAR will be the gentle animal he should be when my young daughter starts her riding lessons.
A Big Thank you to SUNRISE FARMS and the wonderful training they extend.
I just wanted to say that I visited Sunrise Farm years ago, and was VERY impressed, I was all ready to begin lessons there, when my mother got cancer and my car died, and I had not the time or money.
I have moved and am now paying ridiculous rent and living in Arlington MA, so it is most likely not feasible for me to even think about lessons again, as I spend most of the money I do manage to scrape up on my ballet studies, considerably cheaper than riding. I miss it, especially come spring, when I have to avoid horse farms, my resistance is so low :)
I have never forgotten how nice that barn was, and how friendly and impressive Mark was in showing me the program. You are right in all you say.