Sonja Biada did amazing things with our horse! Other trainers gave up on him, but not Sonja... She understands horses; knows how to individualize the training, based on the horse's needs; is a fabulous equestrian and a patient and thorough riding instructor as well. We would highly recommend her to anyone seeking exceptional training for their horse and/or themselves.
Donna Bennett & Steve Stearman
Sam's Valley, Oregon
Several years ago I moved to the Rogue Valley with a spoiled, untrained yearling Welsh Cob named Ranger. During a vet visit I mentioned I was looking for a trainer, and the vet recommended Sonja, at Madrone Hill Ranch. That turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for me and Ranger. Sonja, through gentle and consistent training has transformed Ranger into a dressage pony extraordinaire! The excellent training I have received from Sonja has also improved my riding skills and made me a much more confident rider. Thanks Sonja!
Grants Pass, Oregon.
I have enjoyed knowing Sonja for several years. She has done wonders with a mare ("Honey") that had a difficult beginning under another "trainer". She will be the first rider on the rest of my youngsters now and in the future. The correct beginning is priceless. Thank you, Sonja!
Albionlane Sport Horses
Eagle Point, Oregon.
Sonja has a natural talent with horses. Not all trainers have that. After training by Sonja, my horses not only responded beautifully, but were in top physical, as well as mental condition. I would recommend Sonja to anyone!!
Dear Sonja, Thank you so much for giving Stacy riding lessons. When she first purchased me she had her feet almost in front of my shoulder and she posted like a jack hammer. When I found out I was going to be an "Endurance" horse and knew she was going to be flopping around on my back I started worrying mightily for my own well being.
The first place she took me was to you. That was in the form of a DVD because she wanted your and Art's opinion about me. When she purchased me (thanks to you), my first trailer ride was to your place. You taught her about saddle fit, and what type of saddle would keep her legs under her. You showed her how to communicate with me gently but firmly (my favorite way of being talked to!). Art gave her tips on endurance riding and she ate that up like grain in a bucket. She liked that you had very high standards of care, with your own horses, your tack and your facilities. She said this was VERY important for a teacher to have the highest standards. This is especially true when teaching young students. Perhaps if she had gone to you when she was younger and more impressionable she would be cleaning my bit after every use...but, sigh, she thinks I am getting a TREAT when I have 5 day old crusted hay that is stuck on the bit.
Since our first meeting, Stacy and I have done many endurance rides together, including four 75 mile rides. I certainly would have bucked her off by now if it hadn't been for you. Stacy and I love the sport of Endurance, it is truly my calling, and I have you to thank for some of that, you have helped Stacy and I come a long way in the sport, and we could not have done it without you and Art.
Thanks from the bottom of my hooves, Banner the Horse
Gold Hill, Oregon.
I started my horsemanship training a little later than most.
I was 44 when I started my equestrian training pretty much from scratch with Sonja Biada at Madrone Hill Ranch. Not having had any other experience I probably took for granted the wonderfully trained horses, the use of her high quality tack, the large round pen with the great footing, and last but certainly not least, the indoor arena. It's been 4 years now at Madrone Hill Ranch. I've seen a bit more and know just how lucky I am to have the privilege of riding at Madrone Hill Ranch and the training of Sonja Biada. She is very generous with her equipment and support of her students to compete at the local shows if that is their desire. She lets her students show her own horses (or theirs if they have their own). She trailers them and tries to help everyone get "suited up" for the show.
Sonja does have patience but does not let you off easy. She really wants you to be the best you can be. I have learned so much about horsemanship. I have learned about the basic psychology of the horse. She teaches consistency, perseverance, patience, responsibility, and command for respect. So much of what I have learned helps me in my everyday life as well. I would highly recommend Sonja Biada for training you as the rider for whatever your equestrian ambitions are. I have also witnessed her training of other people's horses as well as mine; a horse that had a history of abuse, learned to trust; her little filly she started; the young thoroughbred off the track, now doing dressage. I've seen huge accomplishments.
Sonja Biada does more than teach horseback riding. As her student you learn who the horse is, who you are as a rider and many techniques that show her knowledge of the sport and her horses, wisdom and experience that ensure a safe, successful, and fulfilling lesson each time you drive on to her beautiful ranch. I started riding with Sonja when I was nine years old. Not only did she teach me to become an accomplished rider, but the lessons she taught me about responsibility, discipline, achievement and compassion still hold true, even after too many years away from the sport. I continue to value Sonja’s opinion and friendship and consider her a lifelong friend.
Marin County, CA.
We started working with Sonja last year. With Sonja's help, we achieved three goals we set for the year. Susan started showing our Appendix Quarter horse, Dancer, this summer. Dancer earned several credible scores and improved substantially by the end of the season, moving up to a first level test. Sonja is always there at the shows for her students and is a great moral support. Sonja started our youngest Arabian under saddle using great skill and compassion.
We like Sonja's approach as it proved firm but gentle and understanding. Lastly, we returned our Arabian mare, Doty, to productive work. Since we moved to Oregon four years ago, Doty suffered from lack of work and was well off her game. She seemed incapable of performing at her prior level of engagement. Sonja encouraged us to consult with several practitioners who were able to make a difference for Doty physically (at a reasonable cost). Once we improved her physical health, she returned to her former self. We highly recommend Sonja to anyone who wants to work with a competent, kind and caring trainer.
Gene and Susan Cresswell.
While part of the joy of riding Snickers is based somewhat on his genes and all the time he spent going on walks with me as a youngster, I think the training he received with you is also very much a part of how he acts. I think he was trained with kindness and fairness that makes him a willing companion."
After years of dealing with trainers who possessed skill but lacked ethics, or possessed ethics but were self-enamored with the degree of their skill, by happenstance, I found one who had a great degree of each. I met Sonja a few years ago when a friend was looking at one of her client's horses. As I watched her, I was struck by her quiet manner while handling the horse, her honesty about its issues, her concern for the suitability of horse to rider & rider to horse, and her sensible and productive training methods. Sonja earns trust and respect with a gentle, reasonable hand, never demanding more than the horse has been prepared to give. She sets attainable goals and rewards each positive step toward those goals with voice and hand.
Sonja has worked with two of my horses; most recently, she "counseled" a young, sweet-natured, previously un-ridden mare who exhibited the most psychotic reaction I've ever seen to being touched around her poll. The vet has said it's probable that this little mare was eared down so severely that she can't let go of the pain memory. Via Sonja's methods, she now will drop her head, wrap her neck around you in a "hug", and accept the headstall, etc. Occasionally, she'll have a flashback moment, but the little mare is 99% beyond where she was. She is now going nicely in the arena and on trails. Sonja "reads" the animals put in her care well and looks to the horse itself for what it is capable of doing or over-coming. Her admiration of and respect for the horse and the amazing animal that it is becomes evident in her communication with them. The icing on the cake is Art, Sonja's husband and soul mate, whose love for the beauty and talent of horses equals Sonja's. I don't believe you could put your horse in better hands than theirs.
Need a horse started right? See Sonja! Someone destroyed your horse's ability to trust? See Sonja! Have others said, "This horse can't..." "This horse won't..." "This horse is a dud!?" See Sonja! Both of you will be glad that you did.
Sonja Biada was a God-send for me.
C.M. Witcher - Grants Pass, OR.
For as long as I can remember I have loved horses. Through my childhood I took riding lessons and rode whenever I could. When I finally settled into my adult life I decided it was time to own my own horse. At age 30 I bought Hannah, a 7 year old Appaloosa mare. For the next 12 years Hannah and I learned the basics of dressage and successfully showed 1st level. I loved riding Hannah because we knew each other so well. In 2002 Hannah suddenly died of a rare blood infection. Since I had recently moved to Grants Pass I did not have a network of horse friends. Knowing of the bond that dressage riders form with their horses, I couldn't imagine that anyone would share their horses with me, and I was not in a position to carry the full responsibility of horseownership again. So I told myself that unless an extraordinary situation came along, my riding days were over.
In March of 2008 a friend showed me an advertisement for Sonja Biada's Madrone Hill Ranch which was looking for dressage riders to lease horses. That night I spoke with Sonja on the phone and we agreed to meet the next morning. The next day Sonja had me ride 3 of her horses, an Arabian named Lad, a young Thoroughbred named Rocky, and a 17.2 hand Warmblood named Wenmar. Each horse was well trained, responsive and happy, not to mention beautiful! I could not believe my luck. Over the next few weeks Sonja had me ride both Rocky and Wenmar until it was obvious that Wenmar was the one! Sonja has helped us get to know each other through lessons and has encouraged me to take Wenmar to local clinics and horseshows. At age 51 I feel like a kid again.
Besides the horses, another thing I love about Madrone Hill Ranch is the atmosphere. Sonja helps people of all ages and skill learn about riding and horse management. Sonja has taught me techniques that I wished I had known years ago. Sonja's understanding of horse behavior and body language enables her to work effectively and quietly with any horse. Her barn is impeccably managed, the horses are well groomed and healthy, and her covered arena is a dream to ride in. I feel very fortunate to have found Madrone Hill Ranch!
Grants Pass, Oregon.
I purchased Tess, an upside down (hollow back, head high), pushy Arab mare with the intention of doing endurance riding. Tess was rushy, disobedient, upside down, impatient and pushy when she arrived at Madrone Hill Ranch.
Sonja knew I needed training as much as the horse. She took us under her wing. She taught Tess to be more supple. She got her round and moving in much better form. Over time, Tess developed a much needed top line. She became less pushy. She learned to listen, although listening is not one of her strengths. Sonja first trained us separately, then she trained us together. She never gave up on us even though Tess tried to rip both of Sonja's arms off at the shoulder.
Sonja stays well informed and studies different disciplines, methods and the work of many clinicians. I believe this is what truly sets her apart from other trainers and teachers. There's no one size fits all, does all, fool proof method, that works every time, and she knows this. Sonja turned Tess completely around and taught me how to keep her that way. I got so much more from Sonja and Art than I ever could have have imagined. They are my mentors, teachers and best of all very dear friends who helped me more than they will ever know in a time of great need.
Thank you, forever!
Patty and Tess