Pattie Hall-Sweigart barks out orders to young riders as their ponies circle the indoor arena.
She counts the strides as the small horses approach jumps.
"One, two, three, four, five. Too many; do it again."
These are the sounds at Nouveau Acres, a 60-acre farm near Rose Valley Lake in Gamble Township where Hall-Sweigart trains riders and horses to be champions.
"I'm hard on them, but they do well," Hall-Sweigart said of her students. "I'm tough, but I also give them the compliments when they're due. They all work very hard."
And it shows.
Ribbons adorn a viewing room that overlooks the 80-by-100 foot indoor arena. Hall-Sweigart said some of last year's champions include Hannah May Winton, Abby McCoy and Lilly Branton in the Central Pennsylvania Junior Horse Show Association circuit. McCoy and her pony, named Bo Derek, were named U.S. Equestrian Federation Zone II horse of the year for the children's hunter pony division last year. The duo also was named the 2011 grand champion children's hunter small-medium pony of the Central Pennsylvania Junior Horse Association and the Eastern Pennsylvania Professional Horse Association.
About 30 students train at Nouveau Acres, which Pattie and her husband, Bryan, bought three years ago. Riders' ages range from are 5 to 40. Students practice between five and six days a week and travel most weekends from December through October throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to compete in horse shows.
The nearly year-round routine is intense, but riders are committed to the sport.
"We get the kids stronger and competitive just like basketball or baseball practice," Hall-Sweigart said.
Riders and their horses are judged by how well they move about the course and how the riders carry themselves. Most horses have many more years of experience than their riders, according to Hall-Sweigart, and know what their job is.
"People don't think they're smart, but they are," she said.
Like many riders, Hall-Sweigart said she started young, at the age of 5. Still a competitor herself, Hall-Sweigart said she is preparing to take several of her students to a large horse show in Florida next February.
She credits her barn manager Karen Pentz for helping her plan the trip, among other things.
"I couldn't go and do as much as I do if I didn't have her," Hall-Sweigart said.
In addition to the indoor all-weather practice arena, Nouveau Acres has a 200- by 300-foot outdoor ring.
Almost as big as horses are her two Great Danes, Hollywood and Max, who keep a watchful eye on their four-legged friends and visitors on the farm.
The facility also has started importing horses from Germany, known as Hanoverians. Other varieties of horses also are for sale, with prices ranging from $10,000 to $80,000.
"What makes their prices go up is how well they do at shows," Hall-Sweigart says.
For more information on Nouveau Acres, call 567-4645 or visit www.nouveauacres.com.