Walder’s Way was unique in that is started with a child’s dream. The child being the daughter of the barn’s founder, Jeff Walder. The lively and beautiful toddler had no interest in dolls from the start. She was driven by her love for horses that burned deep in her young heart. Her interest in horses through lessons at a young age continued to draw her to her beloved horses only more! Only 3, but she knew what she wanted and what she wanted was horses, not dolls! However, it did not take long for Jeff Walder to see that for one reason or another, the lessons were lacking, were not quite right or perhaps not exactly what his young daughter would need to be the success of her dreams and with the best support that would be necessary.
Jeff Walder is an educated man of distinction and has had a high degree of success in his chosen field of psychology and behavior. While Jeff was in the process of studying for his doctorate, he had an opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference in the lives of those who depended upon others for their care in the PA’s mental health care facility model and he did just that. Jeff realized that a better way was possible and was able to think outside the box to come up with a plan that totally revolutionized the system at that time during the mid 1990’s. He was the essential force that provided the idea of the supported adult living model that proved successful for mental health care change in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s system of care for mental patients was totally transformed and through solid measures that helped people as individuals and saved the state countless thousands of tax payer dollars. His model for change enabled the pathway for the structure that is now in place today.
His ability to understand behavior in humans also also paved the way for him to become a supreme horseman and trainer for equines. He realized that if he could work well with humans and make life changing strides for the better, he would probably work well with horses and get the training and education necessary for his own daughter to realize her dreams too. So as time progressed, Jeff expanded his skill set into the horse industry and has excelled at what he does not only for his daughter, but countless horses and their riders as well. Jeff related that animals and horses specifically are able to make the transitions more easily because the emotion level is lowered and behavior is bound to being taught or told what to do. With humans there is a lot of emotional history in place and with animals it is on a different level. Jeff built Walder’s Way into the successful business model that it is today all because a beautiful little girl would rather be around horses than play with dolls. Now in the mind of this writer, that is a huge transformation and one that has very long reaching benefits.
Being a student in Jeff and Robin Walder’s barn is both a privilege and an honor. They take pride in all that they do, they love the horses and they will look at all ways possible to help their students realize their dreams to ride, compete or just learn all that they can. No age is too old and they encourage the students in a wonderful and personal way. I know this because I have experienced this support and encouragement first hand. As an adult, I made the decision to start riding and I reached out to Robin with great hesitation because I did not think I would be of the age or what have you to do it. NO PROBLEM! With Jeff’s ability to see what will work for riders and horses and Robin’s ability to handle all the work behind the scenes it is a student’s dream and opportunity for success.
Madison has grown up since her toddler days of no dolls, but the example of outstanding equestrian ability and horsemanship is shown very clearly with all her performances both in the saddle and on the ground. She has made many accomplishments in the arenas at the highest level and she is a Grand Prix level rider. She leads her horses with quiet confidence that commands their respect which is a good trait to have when dealing with the personalities of many different equines in any given day. She is very responsible and takes the time to understand the horses and is not afraid to correct them. She handles young stallions with care and finesse and is resolute and firm which is essential. The father and daughter make the dream team of the barn and it is comforting and a pleasure to see. To see the admiration and devotion to the horses they care for is like watching poetry in motion. Quite a remarkable thing to witness in our fast paced world of instant gratification and technology.
I am proud to be a student at Walder’s Way Equestrian Center and it is hard to describe actually just how great a feeling that it is to be working toward a dream of riding and learning more about caring for horses. Jeff has such incredible patience and he cares that his students get the most out of their lessons. For me just getting on the horse and then off the horse was the huge challenge I had and still do but I am getting better at it, with Jeff’s positive reinforcement as my trainer. Being able to see Madison’s excellent example of what riding can be and should be and some fun in there too, I might just do ok!!
Walder’s Way offers private lessons, they can host parties and with a pony who can do tricks, leasing opportunities and boarding. Contact Jeff and Robin Walder for more information and Walder’s Way is also on Facebook.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”
Henry David Thoreau