Welcome Learner & Novice Riders!
Learn to ride horses or enhance your skills safely in a fun environment at Whitethorn Academy.
Our well-equipped facility is conveniently located at Maitland Vale, minutes north from Maitland CBD in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW.
Building all-round horsemanship skills
Our lessons are carefully designed. Even first timers quickly learn the basics of independent riding, through games on horseback, balancing exercises and special confidence building activities. As their skill and confidence levels grow, we gradually introduce more challenges, so students develop a deep sense of personal achievement, pride and confidence, which transfer positively into other areas of their lives. Students also learn basic horse care and safe handling - invaluable experience if you’re thinking about acquiring a pony of your own.
Come one, come all!
We offer lessons and horses to suit beginners and novices of all ages. We cater for kids as young as 2 years. Our oldest student to date started with us at age 84.
Our lesson timetable is designed around school terms and school hours.
When COVID-19 conditions permit, we also offer special 8 week lesson programs for home-schooled children, with a curriculum designed to achieve social interaction as well as learning.
Active Kids Vouchers - authorised provider.
Special needs? NDIS funded? Our specialisation.
People with special needs, whether physical, intellectual, behavioural or psychological, and their families, will benefit from our experience and expertise and friendly, inclusive, non-judgemental atmosphere. We help participants build capacity - develop self-confidence and self-esteem, communication skills, improved physical capability, enhanced social and community participation.
Whitethorn Academy is registered with NDIS under the Innovative Community Participation category, with the funding line Capacity Building Social Community Civic.
As well as regular one-on-one capacity-building sessions, we also host monthly Special People Pony Playdates for kids with special needs, particularly those with autism, from 5 to 14 years.
We are happy to work cooperatively with our participants' other therapists. Whitethorn Academy is recommended by a number of professional therapy providers, including psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and care organisations.
Registered with NDIS.
Is this you? Thinking about getting back in the saddle. You rode when you were younger and miss the joy and freedom of being around horses you had then. But you're not sure you can regain the skills you once had.
We get it. And we have a method to help you re-build your confidence. And your riding skills.
Or is this you? Your desire to ride a horse is being stifled by severe anxiety. You just don't think you can do it.
Yes you can! Whitethorn Academy has developed a number of techniques and simple exercises to help you conquer your anxiousness. Come and have a go!
A taste of a wide variety of horsing activities
Fancy having a go at Dressage? Show Riding? Sporting? Polocrosse? Campdrafting skills? Showjumping? Working Equitation? We use elements from each of these disciplines to teach riding and handling skills, gradually building up towards competition level.
We hold 2 gymkhanas during the year for students to pull together the skills learnt in lessons.
And we encourage students to participate in external competitions.
(Of course there's absolutely no compulsion to compete. Totally up to the individual.)
Special activities during school holidays
We have a range of full day activities during the school holidays:
Holiday Horsefun™ - suitable for absolute beginners.
Skillbuilder™ Levels 1, 2 and 3 - for students who are ready for an introduction to more technical riding and horse-handling skills.
Action Stations™ and High Octane Horsing™ - aimed at our more advanced students
Jumps for Joy™ - introduction to show jumping
Real Deal - what it's really like to own your own horse. Horsecare and horsehandling tasks, saddlery maintenance, riding activity.
Sports Day - sporting competition - a fun-filled opportunity to show skills in bending, flag and barrel racing.
We also have opportunities during school holidays to book riding lessons as well as 2 hour horse activities with friends and family ("The Whitethorn Experience" and "Family Funrides").
Pony Club Australia Accredited Centre
Whitethorn Academy is a Foundation Accredited Centre with Pony Club Australia (PCA).
No pony? No problem!
Pony Club Australia is the largest and oldest equestrian organisation in Australia. For 80 years, our clubs have taught people how to be happy, safe and successful with their own horses.
Now everyone can ride with Pony Club - even riders (children over 5 years and adults) who don't have their own horses, or the exclusive use of a horse. Centre Member riders can experience Pony Club by riding trained school horses at one of our Pony Club Accredited Centres.
[Source: Pony Club Australia]
Whitethorn Academy will be offering lessons to Centre Members following the Pony Club syllabus of instruction and encouraging Centre Members to work towards their Proficiency Certificates.
For more information about the benefits of Centre Membership, email email@example.com with PCA Centre Membership in the subject line.
Great team. Fantastic horses. Excellent facilities.
We're very proud to be able to provide our students with:
- a wonderful team of coaches. Each Whitethorn coach is qualified, experienced, knowledgeable, mature and enjoys their role in helping people achieve their horsing goals. And they are really nice people!
- an outstanding selection of school horses to cater for all levels of our students and their desired horsing goals. Most of our horses are registered Australian Stock Horses. We also have several very special ponies. The "Whitethorn Herd" school horses are well-mannered, well-educated and very well-trained, and are maintained in tip-top condition.
- excellent riding facilities. We have an Olympic-sized fully-lit covered riding arena, plus a second riding arena, again fully-lit. Two fully fenced paddocks are set up for specific activities - jumping and time trial/challenge/working equitation. Whitethorn Academy is located on a 100 acre property with a variety of hllls, gullies, creeks and open areas. This gives terrific scope for interesting and challenging cross-terrain lessons.
- wheelchair-friendly modern bathroom, disabled parking, undercover barbecue area, permanent platform to help disabled people mount easily and safely.
Come and meet us!
Riding and horsemanship Lessons, FunRides and capacity-building sessions by appointment.
Pony Club Australia Accredited Centre
Registered Active Kids Voucher provider
Open Mondays to Thursdays, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Open Fridays and Saturdays, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Principal and director: Toni Lennard 0414 855 228