By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Business name: Rhapsody Hill Farm
Address: 6 Wood St., Upton
Owners: Jane Rizzitano and David Thakar
Contact Information: 508-529-1956
How long have you been teaching riding?
“I'se been teaching riding and horsemanship for about 12 years. We started our own business at Rhapsody Hill Farm in 2005,” said Jane Rizzitano, who handles all the lessons and programs. Her husband, David Thakar, keeps the stables and grounds in top shape, but limits his interaction with the five horses to photography and wire sculptures of them.
Rizzitano has been in the education field for 33 years and is currently foreign language coordinator for the Brockton schools. With that background, “I can tailor riding lessons to special needs children, even though we are not a therapeutic riding school.”
What types of lessons do you offer?
“We teach both English and Western riding styles, from beginners to advanced, starting as young as four. Our lessons are private for one person or semi-private for two or three, no more than four people. Some students learn how to prepare a horse for show and participate in local and regional shows.
“We build confidence and don's push riders into things before they are ready. Our forte is to personalize the lessons to the student's level and give them as much attention as they need,” she said.
What are your summer programs like?
“Rhapsody Hill offers a four day, five hours a day summer horsemanship program, and we may offer it two or three times, depending on demand. It's for ages 5 and up, and is tailored to the levels of the participants.
“The program includes all aspects of horsemanship. We leave one stall dirty, so the kids learn how to clean the stall, how to keep buckets clean, how we check the manure to make sure a horse is healthy. They learn what horses eat and why, and something about farm management, including how we use the manure in our compost pile, how we control the flies and odors.
“The program includes a couple of hours riding every day. The kids play games on horseback, and may do walking or trotting races, depending on their level. They brush and bathe the horses.
“We teach them the names of the saddle and other tack parts with sticky notes, and how to care for the tack. Then we put sticky notes on the horses to learn all the parts of a horse.”
What else do you do here?
“Kids can have birthday parties here with rides for all the guests. We will work with parents to tailor parties to the needs and desires of the kids.
“We also help Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts complete their equestrian badges.
“Last year, we started a Ladies” Night Out, a time for women to ride together. This spring we may add some wine and cheese after the rides.
“And we offer private lessons for all ages, with gift certificates available.”