762 Grahams Woods Rd Newville Pa 17241 USA 717-226-0692

Rhody Ranch


Mark Weaver: Finding Family


This ride in the parade was four years in the making for me before I felt comfortable enough with what I'd leaned.
Sonny and I riding in the Newville Halloween Parade Oct. 29, 2018

At the time of this writing my wife and I are only four years old in the horse world. Most everything we’ve learned we’ve learned by doing at Rhody Ranch. Oh sure, there are many, many sources of knowledge and sage wisdom about horses and we both dip into that pool together; one of our favorites is Carson James. Still, our go-to fount of knowledge and wisdom is Jody Rhody. The vast majority of that knowledge has come from Jody and others that board their horses there. We had no idea what to expect and in fact, when my wife came home one day and announced she was getting a horse, I thought I’d stepped into the twilight zone. For those too young to know what that is, google it.

Jody was then, and still is very patient and indulgent – to a point as long as its safe – with people new to horses. There are, however, very firm rules and guidelines set up for all the right reasons to protect new horse people because they’re not small cuddly animals; these are large animals that do not think like we do… at all… not even a little bit. Because of that immutable fact you must learn to speak horse! It was hard at first but Jody taught us how and is still teaching us. I’ve personally watched her take a rank horse, fresh to the farm, who didn’t know her from Adam, calm it down and before too long allow her to lean over the horses back and apply a little pressure. For non-horse people that won’t mean much, but the essence of it is this: If you demonstrate to the horse that you are a leader than can be trusted they will do what you ask if you ask in a manner that makes sense to them. It requires patience, understanding and most of all kindness and even when you think you’re not getting anywhere the horse is watching and listening. You must be consistent and persistent because the payoff will be beyond expectation.

As we’ve grown in knowledge and experience we’ve also realized that the more we know the more we realize we know less then we need, so there’s constant learning. But along the way we also came to understand we had developed an incredible bond with hour horses that literally fills our hearts because the relationship is built completely on trust that goes both ways. Doris and I have also found that Rhody Ranch isn’t just a place to board our horse, but it’s a safe place to just be. We’ve become part of a family and the people at Rhody Ranch have become part of our extended family.

I mentioned those rules and guidelines earlier… well one of my favorites is this: If you can’t be nice, be gone! Anyone who has spent any time in the horse-world knows that there are those who peer down their noses at others and are very judgmental (and that’s all I’m going to say about that), however Jody doesn’t tolerate any of those shenanigans or drama of any kind at the Ranch. Hence my comment, it’s a safe place to just be.

Along with fantastic instruction by Jody, there are also very knowledgeable instructors available at Rhody Ranch. Ali Timko and Ashley Francese are two excellent instructors who have (you never tell a Lady’s age) many years of experience in both English and Western disciplines. Both have been riding since they were able to walk – although some rumors state they were in the saddle before being out of diapers.

I know for my wife and I and our horses, Sonny and Belle, we’ll be at Rhody Ranch until we’re pushing walkers in front of us even after we’re no longer able to mount our horses to ride. We’ll just make’em fat with apples, carrots and bananas! We love you Jody!