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Bluegrass Riding Academy Logo

PO Box 748
Versailles, Kentucky 40383
(859) 519-0949

Bluegrass Riding Academy

Girls leading a horse to the barn

About Us

The Bluegrass Riding Academy (BGRA) located on Bryan Station Road in Lexington, Kentucky is a "first of its kind" in the nation riding academy featuring saddle seat riding lessons and camps for beginner through advanced riders of all ages, college courses in the equine studies, a unique program called "Horses and Homework After School Program" and research promoting the American Saddlebred horse. In addition, BGRA recently launched its new fitness program on horseback called “Equicise”.  The Lexington, Kentucky area being the home of so many highly respected riding lesson programs and horse training facilities inspired the development of a high quality yet very unique riding program catering to several distinctly different types of people. The Academy offers quality riding instruction for some of the nation's most talented riders and riding lessons and camps for horse enthusiasts living in the local community and throughout the world.

Dr. Sally Haydon, the owner and director of educational programs officially opened the Bluegrass Riding Academy in early June 2008. While many of the lesson horses are excellent beginner horses, the academy also has horses challenging for even the most advanced riders. Although some riders choose to learn to ride for the sheer pleasure of riding, showing horses is very popular at BGRA. Riders may show academy horses in Winter Tournaments and Academy Horse Shows. Riders may choose to show in recognized horse shows but must purchase their own horse to compete.

Haydon has taught saddle seat riding and shown Saddlebreds extensively, but chose to take a different route as a professional horseperson obtaining her Ph.D. in the Equine Sciences and serving for 20 years as a professor of equine studies and college administrator at Midway College, developing one of the country's most touted equine programs. Haydon is recognized internationally for her distinguished teaching and service to the horse industry.

Haydon's goal in is to not only stimulate new interest but also sustained interest in the American Saddlebred through the creation of high quality educational programs and opportunities for Saddlebred enthusiasts to learn about the horse. "It's not only important for us to educate the public about the American Saddlebred and get people actively involved, but it's also important to provide educational opportunities that stimulate continued and renewed interest in the breed," says Haydon. Haydon also says in her opinion, "Retaining the interest and active involvement of individuals already in Saddlebred industry at an affordable price via providing services and education for current owners, especially the amateur owner trainers is equally as important as introducing new people into the industry."

Programs offered at Bluegrass Riding Academy include the following:

  • Riding Lessons
  • Residential and Non-residential Camps for Children and Adults at All Levels of Riding
  • “EQUICISE” fitness program on horseback
  • Horses and Homework After School Program
  • Equine Science Courses for College Credit
  • Youth Club
  • Horse Boarding
  • Horse Showing and Training
  • Show Horses for all divisions for sale at all times
  • Research to Benefit the American Saddlebred Industry

Mission of Bluegrass Riding Academy

The Bluegrass Riding Academy educates children and adults in the local community and nation about the American Saddlebred Horse and through its programming teaches riding and horsemanship promoting personal qualities such as confidence, teamwork, responsibility and leadership in a fun and rewarding environment.


  1. Provide a safe and fun environment for educating children and adults about the qualities of the American Saddlebred Horse
  2. Offer high quality educational programs including riding lessons, camps, after school programs, clinics, intercollegiate and interscholastic saddle seat riding opportunities, research and youth club
  3. Develop unique programs to promote the American Saddlebred in the local community, nation and world
  4. Educate individuals regarding practical horse handling and care, anatomy, physiology and health
  5. Maintain an environment that promotes self confidence, responsibility, teamwork and leadership skills
  6. Assist each student in reaching his/her personal goals whether it be to ride for pleasure or exercise or to purchase, show and train horses
  7. Conduct all programming and client relations in a professional manner

Sally Haydon, Ph.D - Owner/Director of Educational Programs, Bluegrass Riding Academy

Dr. Sally Hayden with friends

Dr. Sally Haydon has owned, showed and trained World Champion American Saddlebreds and managed several breeding farms. As a youngster, she learned to ride and train horses from Donna Moore, Merrill Murray, Nelson Green, Bob Gatlin, Ray Pittman and Liz McBride Jones. Prior to her passing, Dr. Haydon was fortunate to have worked with Helen K. Crabtree perhaps the most respected instructor of saddle seat riding, instructor of multiple World Champion riders and author of several books on Saddle Seat Equitation. Dr. Haydon obtained her BS degree from Morehead State University, MS degree from the University of Kentucky and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, all in the Equine Sciences.

For almost 20 years Dr. Haydon was the chair of the Equine Studies Program and professor of the equine Studies at Midway College and also a senior college administrator. She taught equine and animal science courses at Morehead State University prior to coming to Midway. As a college professor she was responsible for preparing hundreds of students for careers within the horse industry. Dr. Haydon taught courses in equine anatomy and physiology, nutrition, reproduction, equine management, practical horse care and equitation.She has published over 40 articles in referred equine research journals and popular horse magazines, developed unique internationally renowned interdisciplinary degree programs including Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine Therapy, High School Equine Scholars Programs, the first Equine courses taught via internet and Equine Study Abroad Programs. She has been an invited speaker on equine topics at national and international conferences, served as an expert witness for equine legal cases and as an equine consultant in the US, Europe, South Africa, Australia and Mexico. Dr. Haydon has received college wide, state and national awards and recognition for teaching and service.

In addition to the Bluegrass Riding Academy, Dr. Sally Haydon initiated the Intercollegiate Saddle Seat Riding Association (ISSRA). The ISSRA is the only association offering saddle seat riding competitions for college students.