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Riding, life lessons offered near Isabel

Hannah Brown
Pratt Tribune
Even Tia Gilleece’s less than two-year-old son is able to ride one of her six riding lesson horses. She enjoys using her life skills in horsemanship to help others learn to ride and gain confidence in life.

Tia Gilleece has been riding a horse before she could walk. She has recently taken her life-time of knowledge as a horsewoman and started a place where she can teach others, Bit & Spur Training. 

“Bit & Spur offers an array of services such as speed events, roping, reining, horsemanship, working on balancing along with posture. Basics of riding to more advanced,” said Gilleece. “One thing I like to do with older kids is to take them to move cattle. It's a skill that honestly helps boost their confidence and an experience they can say they have.”

Gilleece’s training facility is located about five miles northwest of Isabel. She says none of this would be possible without a very generous donation of land by Vernon and Donna Hirt of Sawyer. These lessons are put on display at funshows, which Gilleece said started a few months ago. The third and final show will be October 24th due to the weather cooling off and how early it gets dark. She said she hopes to continue this next spring and summer and will try to have one every other month. 

“My favorite part, well parts, is watching them become better rider's, horsemanship, confidence grow, and achieving goals they have set. It's honestly hard to pick a favorite,” said Gilleece. 

“I love watching all my rider's achieving milestones. They will tell you I sometimes get a little over-excited and may scare them with my enthusiasm! I can't help it!”

Gilleece says the main focus of Bit & Spur training is the riding lessons for students ages 2 to 71. She says each rider is different, which means they can have different goals. Lessons can be done individually or in groups. 

Oakley Panek, daughter of Jamie Panek, has been taking riding lessons from Bit & Spur. Oakley is five years old and had never been on a horse before Gilleece started training her. 

“She has learned how to maneuver her horse and make him stop by herself. She has learned a lot more of the foundation of riding this fall than what I anticipated she would,” said Panek. 

Oakley likes to lead her horse around the arena all by herself and going through the barrel turns. A goal of hers is to learn how to make her horse listen better. 

Kyrian Keeling, a high school horsewoman speaks about the leaps and bounds she has made under the directions of Tia and other Bit & Spur trainers. She’s learned how to saddle her horse, ride patterns, reigning, showmanship, and bareback riding skills. That might not be the most important thing Keeling has learned, though. 

“Just as important as the technical side of horse riding, the Bit and Spur Family has given me a new found confidence in myself and a sense of pride in doing things I never imagined I could do,” said Kelling. “They are so positive, patient and encouraging of me in every aspect of my riding but also in my day to day life as well.”

Keeling enjoys doing the barrel pattern and learning how to rope during her lessons. She hopes to continue working on her roping techniques to keep improving. 

Gilleece gets her knowledge from being born and raised on the back of a horse and attributes all of her knowledge to her mom and dad. Besides Bit & Spur Training she is a stay at home mom and does day work for her dad and other ranchers. For more information on Bit & Spur Training, check out their Facebook page.