Training at Mountaintop Ranch

"Patient, Practical yet Progressive"

Full board and training for all horses: $895 per month




Training Foundation Basics for all Disciplines.

Training at the ranch starts with the Yearling and the Green Horse, then progresses to a Solid Foundation that will prepare your horse for more advanced training in a variety of english and /or western disciplines such as Competitive Ranch Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Jumping, Dressage , Eventing, Western Riding, Reining, Competitive Trail Riding with Obstacle Work and Fox Hunting. Our broad range of teaching styles cover everything from lead changes for the more advanced horse to helping the Fox Hunter have a more dependable mount that is both safe, controllable and enjoyable.

We also Train to help your horse find a new home....Sales!

We are participating members of the American Quarter Horse Association, America Competitive Trail Horse Association , the American Paint Horse Association, Virginia Hunter Jumper Association, and participate with the Glenmore Hunt and Snickersville Hounds Hunt,and the Virginina Bred Programs.


All stallions have their own stall with stallion run....they are not isolated



Our trainer will help you evaluate your horse's capabilities and develop an appropriate training schedule. Your horse will be handled and trained consistently during its stay at the ranch. We have very skilled staff that are excellent at round pen work and starting your young horse under saddle and readying your horse for training.



Training Programs Offered for Foals/Weanlings


  • Haltering
  • Leading
  • Stand Tied
  • Pick up feet
  • Fly Spray
  • Bathe
  • Clippers
  • Worming
  • Swimming Lessons
  • Easy Trailer Loading
  • Learning all ground manners and horse etiquette




Training Programs Offered for Yearlings

  • Cross tie
  • Walk quietly on walker
  • Round pen
  • Crossing water and ditches
  • Going up to mail boxes
  • Learning respect for rider and older horses
  • Basic and Light lunging to learn verbal
  • Commands for walk, trot, canter and whoa
  • In hand calisthenics
  • Swimming (weather permitting)
  • Learn to go over and around ground obstacles quietly
  • Learning to "pony" off of older horses and go for trail rides

Training Programs Offered for Stallions, Mares, Geldings... All Breeds....
English and Western

  • No Stress Starting Under Saddle
  • Round Pen Respect
  • Foundation Basics- Arena Work
  • Wilderness Trail Riding
  • Obstacle Trail Work
  • Horse Calisthenics-Dressage and Western Dressge
  • (teaching the horse to use himself correctly)
  • Starting over Fences
  • Commands for walk, trot, canter and whoa
  • In hand calisthenics
  • Swimming
  • Retraining Undesirable Habits
  • Easy Trailer Loading

Training For:

  • ACTHA Competition
  • Fox Hunting
  • AQHA, APHA, ApHA competitive Showing in all Rail and Pattern Classes
  • Local and Breed Hunter Jumpers/Dressage and Combined Test
  • Schooling Competitive Barrel and Reining Horses
  • Training Flying Lead Changes
  • Training the Hackamore/Bosal Horse
  • Training year round in covered arena and 350 acres of trails

Lessons included in all Training Contracts


Training Program at Mountaintop Ranch:

Mountaintop Ranch has been known for having a great mentoring/ teaching program for young and talented riders for many years. This program was started by Lydia Cunningham, having worked and trained horses for many years herself as well as using outside trainers.  I was very disheartening to find the level of "wrong doing" in the horse industry.  Ranging from lack of talent and knowledge, to simply not riding the horse when the owner was not around, making excuses for the horse's performance and/or thier trainiing program and worst of all, animal cruelty practices for quick, but non lasting results.

Mountaintop Ranch has mentored young talented trainers to have a superb work ethic, constantly growing in knowledge and experience, taking excellent care of the horses, keeping records of daily training sessions and goals, and being able to train the versatile horse.  Good basic training and skilled knowledge in all levels of arena work, translating that work to the trails, show ring and beyond.

Lydia Cunningham is currently mentoring 2 young and extremely talented riders. All training horses at the Ranch are schooled daily by these riders under her careful coaching and guidance.



Training Philosophy

I believe in order to have great success with a horse you must work together as partners. Since you can’t teach a horse to speak English, we must speak their language. By using natural horsemanship techniques we can learn how to use our body language to accomplish this. Horses naturally fear humans; we are predators and they are prey animals. We must teach them that they need not fear us which is accomplished through effective communication with them. Once trust is established between horse and rider, you are able to form a partnership.

As a rider, I will help you gain overall confidence, trust and respect for your horse. We start with the basics of rider position, seat and leg aids, balance, and communication. From there we move on to more advanced study of balance to help riders gain confidence in their seat allowing the horse to move naturally and balanced in their own self carriage.

Colt starting:
To provide a training program using gentle and non-abusive training techniques to help each horse gain trust, confidence and respect as they become soft, responsive and willing horses with a solid foundation to build upon. Quiet and Capable Horses.

Problem horses:
Regaining their trust and respect with natural horsemanship methods, using obstacles to rebuild their confidence, putting miles and lots of experience on them to make somebody a safe and fun partner for life. Quiet and Capable Horses.

Show horses:
Training them to the best of their ability, aiming for a light, responsive and competitive athlete that is a joy to ride and enjoys its job without letting it become over schooled, over faced and dull. Quiet and Capable Horses.

Mountaintop Ranch trains for the All-Around Horse, competing in Trail, Western Riding, Ranch Pleasure,Reining, Hunter Under Saddle,Dressage, Eventing Hunter Paces and Fox Hunting.



    CHRIS AND KARLA MILLS          Trail Guides/Trainers at Mountaintop Ranch

Chris Mills is the Trail Boss and takes care of maintenance at the ranch.  He is a master aircraft fabricator, blacksmith/farrier, and mechanic.  He loves animals, and enjoys sharing the experience of living in rural Virginia.
Karla Mills is the trail horse trainer and one of the trail guides.  She has over twenty years of riding experience.  She enjoys working her horses, especially with her ponies.  She is a mom of four wonderful children and is married to Chris.


*Stallions and Problem Horses Welcome
We train year round in a covered arena, a covered round pen, a 100-ft round open arena, and on 350 acres of mountain trails. We also utilize a horse walker for warming up and cooling down horses

click to see training agreement
click to see show fees

"....I've lost track as to how many horses Mountaintop Ranch has started for me in the past 8 years or so, but you all have done a wonderful job for me." Don Bevan Broadway, VA