Training philosophy

The goal of training a horse is to keep them happy and healthy and enjoying their work. Regardless of a horses specific competitive discipline or training goal, varied methods are used such as hill work, flat work, poles and caveletti, ring work, field work, trail rides, field trips, and ground work mixed with adequate rest and ample turn out to keep the horses interested and happy. Consistency in a training program is the key to a horses success. Horses must be fit and strong enough to do what we are asking of them. We can help you determine what discipline your horse will enjoy the most. Horses are individuals and all learn in a different way. We aim to train in a way that each horse will understand best and tailor each program to suit the individual horses needs. 

Just as with horses, riders also all learn in different ways. It is key to try to teach a rider in a way that they can learn. A trainer must explain and communicate instructions in a manner in which each rider will understand and be able to attempt and eventually succeed. Nikki’s years of teaching experience allows instruction to be targeted in a thoughtful simple progression of what the rider most needs to work on at any given time to help improve riding technique, communication with the horse and confidence. 

We will travel to you for your training needs. Travel fees may incur outside of the Marengo, IL area.


Private or semi private lessons are typically 45 minutes to an hour and group lessons can be an hour to two hours depending on what the horse and rider need that day. They include a warm up, flatwork, and, if warranted, jumping portion. Group clinic style lessons are also offered and can be a wonderful educational tool for students to learn from watching other riders. Private lunge lessons are also available to offer in depth work on body position and seat. Pole/cavaletti work are used to learn techniques without over taxing the horses. Pony club instruction is offered in traditional track, show jump track and hunt seat equitation track. Our lessons are geared towards flatwork to improve jumping, hunter/jumpers, hunt seat equitation and in helping event horses with their show jumping. Substitute teaching for trainers that are out of town can be accommodated.

Training Rides

Training rides are also available as needed. It is often helpful for the instructor to know what the rider is feeling and to help the horse understand a concept before asking the rider to learn it as well. Horses can progress more quickly with confidence building training rides. Training rides are typically 30 minutes.


There is true joy in sharing the journey of competition with a rider and their horse. Coaching for clients or as a substitute for your trainer at shows, horse trials or rallies is available as needed. Coaching can include course walks, lessons, pre round warm up and post round critique. 


On The Fence?

Hidden Gem invites you to come and observe one of our lessons in action to see if we're the right fit for you and your horse.
Call 847-867-5113 to schedule.