Derby fever? It’s never too late to learn to ride a horse

Melbourne, Kentucky – Kentucky’s interest in riding may be at its peak around the time the Kentucky Derby, but for many Kentuckians, it’s the year-round passion.

What you need to know

  • Misty Ridge Ranch offers camping, trail riding, and horseback riding lessons in Northern Kentucky
  • The farm owner says her business has improved in recent years as people have shown a renewed interest in riding
  • One explanation could be for people who want to find new hobbies outdoors during the pandemic
  • The owner says that people who come for lessons learn to be confident, and to be leaders

In fact, a ranch owner in northern Kentucky said she’s seen an increase in the number of people coming to ride horses over the past few years.

Anna Zincon said that what it takes to be a good rider on horseback is pretty simple.

Anna Zincon says horses are in their blood. (Spectrum News 1 / Sam Knef)

“You’re the leader. And you have to show that dominance. That’s what changes people when they learn that. That’s why equine women can be so powerful for some people, and so accomplished for others,” she said. “It just comes down to the way you look.”

It’s hard to argue that both “powerful” and “accomplished” don’t describe Zincon.

Zincon, the eldest of her six children, grew up on a farm a few miles from her current farm. She said the horses were in her father’s blood. And now they are in her.

“Out of the six kids, I’m the only one who made it a kind of life addiction,” Zincon said.

Misty Ridge Ranch was an endeavor that she and her husband, Greg Zincon, started in the 1990s.

“In the beginning, it was all about wanting to put on my own show and things like that. We ended up building an indoor arena, my husband and I, so we could ride in the winter.

Before they realized their full vision, tragedy struck.

“During construction, he was killed in a car accident. I decided to go ahead and am still building it,” Zincon said. “And I gave myself five years of working my job at the company to build it.”

Working full-time and teaching lessons completely changed Zinkhon’s perspective.

“I discovered a whole new passion for the industry. It wasn’t just about my riding. That’s what horses do to humans,” she said. “And what you can help them learn about themselves through horses, it’s incredible.”

Misty Ridge is now a 40-acre ranch that features camping, trail riding, and horseback riding lessons. The farm even has some retired thoroughbred racehorses.

Anna Zincon teaches riding lessons for people of all ages (Spectrum News 1 / Sam Knef)

“Yes, he made over $100,000,” Zincon said, petting Rabe, who is now training to be an event horse.

Maybe it’s because so many people have been trying to find new outdoor hobbies — but over the past few years — Zinkhon said the business has improved dramatically. She said that many people trying to find new outdoor hobbies during the pandemic may be one possible explanation.

She said she has a waiting list of 50 to 60 people to ride lessons. Boarding booths are also full.

We haven’t been able to catch up since then. The number of people with renewed interest has been staggering, Zincon said. “Especially when people go, ‘I rode once as a kid with my boyfriend, and I fell and never got back.'” You are petrified.’ We help them move past those memories, we help reassure them, we show them how they can still do it, and be safe. And they leave with a completely different outlook on life.”

Maggie Schroeder began taking riding lessons on the farm 10 years ago. Now teach them and help them in other ways on the farm.

“This is my first hobby. This is my favorite thing to do, literally my whole life,” said Schroeder. “Actually, when I first started riding, I didn’t like it.. I was young. I was scared. If you are afraid, find it. You’ll realize that it takes a lot of hard work, but it’s easy once you figure it out. It takes some perseverance.”

After spending 10 years as a kid riding horses, it was only four months before he took lessons at Langlee King’s Misty Ridge Ranch in early May. But she was addicted.

“I mean, I think the bond you can form with a horse is very special. I’m just in my happy place when I’m here,” she said, petting the horse she was renting like, ‘I love Molly.’

When asked how you would describe the special relationship between a horse and a human, Zinkhon had an interesting response.

“Everyone is familiar with the warm, fuzzy feeling of a dog and a cat. And you get that. But you too, when you’re on a horse. You have this power that you control. You know, this 1,200-pound animal listens to you through your fingers and cheeks.”

For those interested in signing up for lessons or tours, head over to the Misty Ridge Farm website.

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