Foundation First

Before their sport career begins, every horse needs to know:

  • To trust under gentle leadership and to defer to their rider for guidance and safety.
  • A solid understanding of language through body language, touch, & voice.
  • To follow the feel of physical contact with lightness, relaxation, and confidence.
  • To allow the rider to rate their flow of energy/impulsion.
  • To allow the rider to influence their posture and their point of balance.

Sport specific skills are then added to this foundation to create a horse who is an "expert" in their field.


I've been riding for 45 years, so I knew I knew something about horses and riders. I met Maria and I realized I knew next to nothing. This trainer, farrier, rider, coach, knows more about horses than anyone I've met. Add to that the intuition and relationship skills, combined with outstanding horsemanship.Mark Smith

Boarding Questions?


If you would like to board your horse at Benson Oaks Farm for training or long term care, contact me to set up a visit! 

I'd be happy to show you around and answer any questions you may have.  

You can also find more information about the facility on the Benson Oaks Farm website.


Nate On CC Course 450x338Horse & Owner Training

It's important that riders are trained along side of their horses. Even if Maria is doing the initial problem solving or intensive teaching with a training horse, she starts including the horse's owner as soon as possible in the process.

Young Horse Training

Maria offers training for young horses of all ages and stages of training. She has started 100's of horses under saddle over the past 30 years.  There is no greater responsibility as a trainer than being entrusted to shape the mind and body of a young horse, and no greater privilege. It has always been one of Maria's favorite jobs.

A horse literally remembers every "first" that he ever experiences. Those memories either lay a solid foundation for the future, or they accumulate into a path of dysfunction that will have to be cleaned up before moving forward in training.  The goal is always to protect a young horse's sensitivity, willingness, and natural freedom of movement.

BicheShoulderInEarsUp 450pxStarting Under Saddle

Three-year-olds should be tasked with developing good relationships with humans, being taught language and communication on the ground, learning to wear the bridle through work in hand (on the ground), and strengthening their bodies on the lunge line.  It does not benefit a three year old physically to be ridden.  If the horse's body is strong enough and they are big enough, Maria may do some ridden work at a walk and few minutes of trot with a "long" three year old (almost four).

It’s generally not until their four year old year that trotting, light lateral work, and then finally canter work are added regularly to training sessions. The growth plates in their vertebrae are not fused until they are 5 1/2 - 8 years old.   For this reason Maria spends a portion of each training session on ground work to protect the young horse’s soundness, purity of movement, and athletic potential.  

Training - Pricing & Information

$ 600 Month

+ 1 hr Session 2x a week.

+ Custom homework assignments in between lessons.

+ Unlimited access to Maria for questions via email.

+ 50% Off of your next Clinic.

Boarding services not included.

Full Time Training
$ 800 Month

+ 5 training sessions per week.

+ Ideal for young horses and problem horses.

+ Unlimited access to Maria for questions via email.

+ Owner is encouraged to attend and participate as much as possible.

Boarding services not included.

Hourly Training
$ 70 Hour


Lost Creek Boarders - $50/hr

"There is no greater responsibility as a trainer

than being entrusted to shape the mind and body of a young horse."

...and no greater privilege."

~ Maria Elizabeth Smith