29 Wescott Road Enfield, NH 03748  603-632-1011

Our Farm

Barn We are a 30 horse farm located in Enfield, NH featuring schoolmasters in dressage and eventing, and beginner-friendly school horses for all levels of riding. We are known for our junior riders, who continue to gain respect throughout New England and the East Coast. We compete and work with all breeds of horses, and for all ages of riders. We provide a full range of opportunities for our clients to learn and progress including clinics and shows, both home and away, along with some trail rides just for fun!

We have many amenities at our facility for your convenience and we have lots of other barn animals for your entertainment.

Our History

First Choice Riding Academy has been owned and operated by Heidi Hauri-Gill since 1990, and has operated in its current location of Enfield, NH since 1998.

In 1990, after years of working at other barns and schools, Heidi felt it was time to set out on her own and start First Choice Riding Academy. Heidi began by leasing horses from a camp. She found a farm in Massachusetts that had a wing of stalls available, Longview Equestrian Center, which had just been built by Bob and his uncle. Then, she sent out letters about her new business and thirty people from the Boston and North Shore area started the ball rolling. She befriended long time horse trader, Charlie Lane, who provided horses to use, and when Heidi sold them, they both benefited from this arrangement. It was the beginning of something really great.

The school continued to flourish, and 30 students became 100, and 5 horses became 20. There were minor location changes until the big move to New Hampshire. Heidi had grown up in the Upper Valley area of NH and decided with Bob to move back shortly after they got married. At first, Heidi free lanced back to MA, since they had decided to have a little quieter life. But that did not last too long. A life with free time and predictable schedules did not seem to satisfy them, so they went looking and found the current location in Enfield at the former Countryside Stables.

The building was a large shell covered in dust and cobwebs. There were only about eight stalls finished and there was no grain room, no hay storage, no tack room and no office. The farm didn't even have its own well - it shared one with the house next door. After making arrangements to lease the property for one year before purchasing it, Bob hit it for three days with a power washer. Students from MA came up to paint and build and then ride horses. Heidi was still traveling back and forth to MA to teach for the next few months. Word spread fast that there was work going on since people would drift through to "check things out". Many of them signed up for lessons. Heidi, Bob, and 8 month old Conner welcomed their first students in the fall of 1998.

Back Paddocks After There was plenty of work to do outside too. The land was simply fields and there was a colossal need for drainage. The outdoor arena was unsatisfactory and there were no paddocks or sheds. In comes Bob! A ditch system was excavated and a well was dug creating independence from the house. To develop the outdoor arena, dirt was removed from a nearby area which created a twenty foot deep run off pond. This pond is home to lots of plants and animals, including ducks in the summer. Fences were built and then changed from time to time. Finally, we feel that the fencing is in its permanent pattern.

Changes continue to happen at the farm.  The grain room is in its fourth and final place. Bob has built many stalls and cubbies for the each horse's tack and supplies. During the winter of 2006-2007, we enjoyed our first winter in luxury with our heated viewing room. Thanks Bob!

This farm has grown not only in human and horse numbers, but in quality of horse as well. First Choice Riding Academy is now known for having dressage horses that are qualified to teach riders through third and into fourth level. Many of them have won titles in New England and with the USDF. They not only bring their knowledge and confidence to the lesson arena to teach riders what movements really feel like, but they bring their talents to the show arena as well, giving riders the ultimate confidence as they enter the show ring.

The riders are far more educated too. Students and their horses have a tendency to come and stay. This has allowed for development of training skills, as well as show skills. There are riders who know what the dressage movements should feel like and can refresh a horse, so the horse can then go on and show another rider what the movement feels like. We also have riders who work on maintaining the muscle development of horses which keeps them fit, so that they can withstand the rigors of balance and movements. Every spring, the excitement for show season is tangible within the farm with everyone anticipating what changes their efforts during the fall and winter training program will bring!

Our Facility

Indoor and Outdoor Arenas

Indoor ring Outdoor ring

Our indoor arena is 80 x 120. This offers the width needed for the younger or greener riders, while giving sufficient length to school the more advanced movements. It is footed with ASTMC-33 sand over a hard pack base which provides excellent concussion absorbency, as well as grip, so you won't see horses slipping and sliding in the arena. We water the arena to keep the dust down and maintain the surface with machinery frequently. Our outdoor arena is 90 x 200 and has the same footing. It drains exceptionally well so we can be out there early in the spring and late in the fall.

 

Viewing room

Viewing Room FireplaceViewing Room kitchenViewing Room windows to indoor ring

Our viewing room is a comfortable place to watch lessons, clinics and practice rides. Three large windows to the indoor arena provide a great view. There is a changing room, heat in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. A microwave and refrigerator are there for your use. Coffee, hot cocoa and snacks are available for a fee. Complimentary wireless internet access was added in November 2007.

Our School Horses

Ollie
FCRA school horse Ollie

"Ollie" is a bay 2002 Quarter Horse Gelding. He came to the farm suffering from Erlichea which is a tick born disease. I told him that with the expensive treatments he was under going he really needed to be a perfect school horse to show me how grateful he was for saving his life. BOY DOES HE DO THAT! Practically every day I see Ollie doing sometime special, or teaching someone something in such a safe way that I never regret the fact that he is a very expensive little pony! He is about 14 hands tall with a heart that stands well over 20 hands! Ollie came to us in 2009.

Zucchini

Zucchini is a 1996 AQHA gelding who looks and moves like a Trakehner. Zucchini is SUCH a fabulous boy, he is very well trained through second level dressage, he loves to jump, and is having a blast teaching some of our eventing crew. He is just as pleasant as can be to be around, and will often put his head in your arms for a big hug. If you want Zucchini to leave his paddock? Well, you may need to convince him. He has made himself a long time home here at First Choice and just seems to love to go with the flow of things.

Patrick

Patrick is a 1995 pinto Irish Sport Horse gelding. Patrick has a very exciting background starting with his birth in Ireland. He came here and was part of the biggest eventing community and a super star! He has trained with the best trainers and went as far as Intermediate before he slowed down and found his way here. He is a really fun boy, loves teaching and is a wizard at teaching people about connection. Patrick also teaches jumping although we won't be touching those Intermediate heights! One thing to know about Patrick? If you stand in front of him and block his view of the world be ready for a strong push out of the way with his nose!

Fannie
FCRA school horse Fannie

"Scenic Fannie Mae" is a registered American Paint Horse mare.  She was born in 1993. She is a wonderfully versatile mare and is not only a great beginners horse but she is the star of the vaulting program.  She is a super mellow girl and except for the fact that she likes to announce her arrival in the indoor she will let just about anyone do just about anything!  She came to the farm in 2008.

MeMe

"Inselmir" a.k.a. MeMe's grandfather is Donauwind, a famous jumper. She is a registered Trakehner mare who stands 16.1 hands. She was born in 1987 in Northern CA and she moved east in 1993. She later went to Wadsworth Farm in Danvers, MA to study dressage under Roel Thunnison, before coming here. She is an always popular mount and is just wonderful at her job. She loves to jump! She not only does the equitation shows with us but she has been seen at dressage shows and events. She has been with FCRA since 2000.

Lucky

"Lucky" is a 2004 QH gelding who is 16.2 hands tall. He is a great boy to learn the basics on and yet he has taken students to local shows and scores in the mid 70's without blinking an eye! He loves to jump, and will easily bring a rider from intro to jumping to jumping courses of 2-2'6" with ease.

Duke

"Duke" is a 2004 Mustang gelding who was rounded up by the BLM and just loves domestic life. He is handsome and kind, he will teach anyone the basics of walk trot and canter. He even jumps a bit. He is a cool dressage horse, and will be on the YDF team annually if he has anything to say about it!

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Like every farm, we have lost our share of special horses. We will always remember them, even though they are no longer with us. Click here for our In Memory page.

Our Other Barn Animals 

Sapphire and Kiwi
Goats

Meet Kiwi (on the left) and Sapphire - the farm's Nigerian Goats. Sapphire was born in 2004 and was given to Christopher at Christmas time along with her sister Ruby who was given to Conner by their grandmother. (Did she ever ask if it was a good idea to do this at Christmas time? You would have to ask her!). The boys raised them from 10 day old kids in the kitchen of our house! They were bottle fed 5 times a day and were sheer fun as they would race from one end of the house to the other. Of course, when we were not watching them they were in a pen. During the afternoon, they would be at the farm where they made themselves quite at home in the jackets of on looking moms. Eventually, they moved to the farm for good.

Unfortunately, Ruby passed away in the fall of 2005. In 2006, we decided that Sapphire was too lonely without her sister, so Conner found Kiwi. She was also a bottle baby, but she grew up in the barn. She is the vocal part of the duo. The goats are fun to watch, but also good friends to the horses. It is a commonly known fact that horses and goats get along well and is demonstrated when they are in the same paddocks at the farm. The goats are known to be loose all morning, and then in their pen in the afternoon. Kiwi practices her songs when she feels a little bored.

Update: Sadly, Sapphire has passed on.

Our Ducks
Goats

The tall brown and white duck is mostly Indian Runner, the other two are the females and they are some sort of cross. You can tell that they are not purebred Runners because they don't stand as upright as the typical Runner. These three are happily laying eggs that can be purchased through the farm, and making smiles all along the way.