BY TIANNA VESTRI
Growing up in the Northeast, Even Keel Equestrian’s Lauren Kosolsky always had a love for horses. She “finally” got a start to her riding career when she was 8 years old, competing in the equitation and local 4H shows in her early years. During this time, Lauren had trained under many, including Carly Fisher and Jenna Gallagher, through the age of 11. At 12 years old, she moved under Diane Marshall, a USDF bronze medal rider, and stayed under her through the rest of her junior years.
When she aged out, she decided to pursue a riding career in the jumpers while attending college at UMass Boston to study Psychology. During that year, she realized it was only a matter of time before horses called her back. At the end of her freshman year, she purchased back her first pony, Jack, and left college to become a professional. She still has Jack today as her beginner lesson pony, and never looked back.
At first, Lauren started working with horses that were good resale projects while she boarded at a local facility. She took on an apprenticeship and started working towards receiving her Massachusetts instructors license. After accomplishing her instructors license test, she moved her two horses to a backyard barn in Foxboro. There, she continued to work with her resale project horses.
A few months later after outgrowing this smaller backyard barn, she moved to a shed row lease in Dighton. It was here that she grew to a few more horses, and one boarder. Staying at this facility for 6 months, she quickly outgrew with the training of horses that she acquired. Deciding to move again, she landed at Haskins Farm in Berkley and rented 20 stalls within their barn. As she continued to grow her training and boarding business filling the stalls, she started to establish her riding lesson program. Growing to twenty students in no time, she taught lessons in English but continually looked outside the box by learning things for her own riding from other disciplines like western.
While growing her own knowledge across disciplines, her boarding and lessons were going strong until that first winter. Even with access to an indoor, lessons declined during the cold and she moved her focus to training horses. After two years at Haskins farm selling horses and teaching lessons, she decided to move to her current location in Middleboro at Paso Fino del Fuego where she rents out an 18-stall barn in addition to a few stalls in the owner’s upper barn.
We decided to speak with Lauren about her program and what she’s learned in her career so far.
TPH: How did Even Keel Equestrian get started?
LK: I had wanted to become a professional after trying college for a year. Knew I wanted to be in the equestrian industry for a career for myself. As much as there was not the demand for another training barn in the area, I wanted to take a different approach in the style of training horses and riders.
What is the focus of EKE? Because I know you mentioned going through in western disciplines as well as being a show jumper yourself.
I really liked the way that the western horses were trained, and thought that if I could incorporate the training methods from that side, I could add it into training a nice jumper horse. Getting a very soft and responsive, but relaxed partner within a horse from the ground up will eventually make a better, easier show horse for clients. I always say I am very particular about the groundwork, and that I want it to be 100% solid before getting on the back.
What is your favorite part of training a young horse? Is there one thing that stands out that you like best?
My favorite thing is being able to watch a horse figure something out, and then succeeding in their job. I really appreciate seeing a horse who loves their job. When I acquired my horse, Froggy, back when I was in Dighton, he was originally a retraining sale project. He was extremely sour, uncomfortable in his own body, and did not know where to put his own feet. Through lots of patience and ground work, I was able to get him to fully trust me while also getting him to use his body correctly. After that, he found he loved to jump and thoroughly enjoyed doing that job. I tried to sell him at first as well, but no one was able to fully get that feeling of being one with your horse that we all get with that special one. That is when I decided to keep him as my own jumper instead of selling him. He is one of those very easy to ride, very sweet horses. But he is also very particular in who he really works for. He tends to pick those riders that know what they are doing at a higher level.
How do you set up a training schedule for a new horse or rider when they come into your program?
For a horse, I start with groundwork. To say in the simplest way, it doesn’t just consist of everything from grooming and working on them on crossties, to giving them a bath and having them respect you while doing the simple tasks. Usually I start work in the round pen, seeing where they are not just in their body but in their brain. From there, my focus goes to where the horse needs. Say a horse is a nervous type, I’ll focus on getting them focused on my body language, and if I move they move with me or pay attention to that movement. When a new rider comes to me, from wherever they are in their riding career, I start at the basics with getting seat, core, and legs strong and secure under the rider—no matter how long that takes. After that, we can start working on more difficult things, whether it is first jumps, a higher level, or even just a simple trot.
What makes you stand out as a trainer?
I focus mainly on the care and comfort of the horse, and being realistic about the rider’s goals. I’ve lost clients who want to jump every lesson and do hard work every ride. I stand behind that a horse shouldn’t really jump more than twice a week, and should have days off or of lighter work. I enjoy giving my clients the option to go out on the trail rides right off the property behind our paddocks to the cranberry bogs or even take them cow sorting to get their minds working differently. I work on striving to gain confidence in both horse and rider separately, but also as a team. If only one has the confidence, their goals will be harder to achieve, and the client can get frustrated. I really enjoy seeing both gain the confidence needed to be that partnership, and watching them achieve what they may not have thought possible.
What does the future look like for you and Even Keel Equestrian?
I love giving lessons to all levels, but I hope to grow to more boarders so that I can work on developing the relationship with horse and rider. This year has been hard for everyone, but I look forward to going out to more shows than just our local circuits and schooling shows that we have been doing to get the riders ready for those bigger rated shows, as well as their horses. Since it is just me, I would love to get an assistant trainer who knows how I operate and teach to grow our lesson and boarding program. I’d enjoy being able to acquire even more young horses to bring up the ranks, as well as traveling to those bigger shows such as HITS, WEC or WEF with some clients that want to pursue that level of competition in their riding.
Lauren, it has been great getting to know you and the story behind Even Keel Equestrian. I wish you all the best of luck in the future.
Thank you for taking this time to learn about what we do.