After a trip to beautiful Culver, Indiana, what makes better sense than a trip the following week to Colorado Springs, Colorado? (Hey, they get an average of 300 days of sunshine per year in that city. Can you blame me?)
My stop first stop of the trip was at the Fountain Valley School, a small campus with a very long driveway and a very cool, laid back feel to it. In true Western tradition, many of the buildings are adobe and owe a great deal to a Spanish influence. (Meals – and warm, homemade cookies! – are served each day in the Hacienda Dining Room – need I say more?)
Fountain Valley is a relatively new school in terms of American boarding schools, as it was founded in 1930, but it’s definitely not unlike many of its better-known counterparts in academic rigor or in its athletic and co-curricular offerings. All FVS students are required to participate in afternoon athletic activities (riding is one of those options!) and they also have exposure to cool academic programs like their freshman transitions program (essentially an introduction to the liberal arts at a high school level) and the sophomore Western immersion program, which is a liberal arts examination of the Arkansas River Valley.
For equestrian students, 50 school horses are available on campus and the school boasts IEA national championship teams in the hunt seat discipline from 2007 and 2010. (Coach Ann Hanna told me that, at their first trip to Nationals, a woman from Boston asked her, “Where are you all from?” When Ann replied, “Colorado Springs,” the woman said, “But I thought you only rode western!”) It’s a great equestrian facility – three outdoor arenas, one covered arena, and a traditional indoor for the winter months with lots of riding space. The barn is typical of those west of the Mississippi – very open and airy without a lot of fancy wood paneling or decorative stall markers. It’s all highly functional and the horses are all happy and healthy.
Students serve as the barn crew at FVS so, before they can ride in the afternoon, each one has assigned barn chores to complete. I really like this system, as it makes sure that every minute in the saddle is truly earned and appreciated. What’s more, it gives the students a better opportunity to get to know the horses in the program – and understanding the nature of horses is definitely at the root of becoming a successful IEA and IHSA rider!
Could Fountain Valley be a good fit for your high school experience? Contact me and let’s find out!