The Riding Centre is located at 1117 East Hyde Road in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The grounds occupy 60 acres of land that is part of the 1,000-acre Glen Helen Nature Preserve owned by Antioch College and overseen by the Glen Helen Ecology Institute. Through the generosity of Antioch, the Yellow Springs community, and countless volunteers, the Riding Centre has been able to offer lessons, therapeutic riding, and day camps to the Miami Valley at affordable cost for over 50 years. Facilities include two barns, rolling pastures, a large outdoor ring, a lighted indoor ring, a cross-country hunt course, several wooded trails, outdoor shelters for the horses, and stables.
The Riding Centre was the brainchild of Louise Soelberg and was founded in 1959 as an educational, nonprofit project dedicated to teaching the love, care, and understanding of horses. Following a back injury that ended her career as a professional dancer, Louise turned to her other primary love – horses. A unique woman, Louise created a one-of-a-kind equestrian facility. She convinced Antioch College to lease her 15 acres of farmland that was part of Glen Helen, a large nature preserve held by the college. The property included a broken-down barn and a dilapidated, abandoned house she would come to call home.
By 1961, a formal lease agreement between Louise and Antioch College set aside 60 acres of Glen Helen farmland for the development of the Riding Centre. Its purpose would be to provide educational and recreational services for Antioch College and Yellow Springs. Horsemanship was offered as a physical education class for Antioch students, and costs were kept to a minimum. This practice has continued to the present. This unique nonprofit, charitable learning institution for horsemanship exists thanks to the pioneering spirit, dedication, and love of a remarkable woman. Always putting the needs of the horses before her own, Louise lived out her life in voluntary poverty and died peacefully in 1994, at the age of 90. Her legacy is carried in the hearts and minds of those running the operation today.
Carolyn Bailey was born and raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and began what would become her equestrian career when she was allowed, due to her enthusiasm, to begin riding lessons at the Riding Centre at the age 8. She bought her first horse when she was 11 years old and began teaching lessons when she was 15. In 1977, she enrolled at The Cheff Center for the Handicapped in Augusta, Michigan, where she received her certificate to teach riding to the mentally, emotionally, and physically challenged. She was asked to stay on at the Cheff Center as an instructor and spent the following two years gaining valuable experience.
In 1981, Carolyn returned home to the Riding Centre where her heart truly was, and together with Louise Soelberg, carried on the work of the Riding Centre. Embodying Louise’s heart and philosophy, Carolyn has been the Head Instructor and Trainer at the Riding Centre ever since. In 1989, Carolyn assumed full responsibility for the day-to-day management of the facility.
Today the Riding Centre is a thriving organization that has an active lesson program, offering both regular and therapeutic riding lessons and horse boarding, and a strong foothold in the community, thanks to the dynamic leadership of manager Carolyn Bailey. As a former student of Louise’s, Carolyn began taking riding lessons at the Riding Centre at the age of eight. She became the manager in 1989 and has kept the spirit of Louise alive through her dedication to teaching all things related to horses. As well as being the lead riding instructor for the lesson programs, she is also one of a handful of master instructors of therapeutic riding in the United States and Canada. Through Carolyn’s steady management, the Riding Centre has had a successful therapeutic riding program for more than 20 years, as well as continuing Louise’s legacy of promoting a love and understanding of horses.