ROBINS -- Cindy Beranek and her daughter, Carrie Hoeger, wrangle horses for a living.
Beranek and Hoeger worked as wranglers for Camp Hitaga’s horse riding program until the opportunity to buy Four Oaks Farm and Stable in Robins -- now Hilltop Ranch -- presented itself in the fall of 2010.
“Camp Hitaga did not have a training program at the time I contacted them to put Carrie in their horse program, and they asked if we would be their wranglers,” Beranek said. "I incorporated my thoughts and ideas into their program.
"I was doing classroom lessons and Carrie, who was 12 at the time, was doing instruction with the horses.”
Beranek said Four Oaks Farm and Stable offered the basics needed to build their own riding stable.
"Carrie and I had six horses and four stalls of our own and we were looking for a place that had an indoor arena because she was starting to do riding lessons, too," Beranek said.
The transformation to Hilltop Ranch required a new roof, fencing, paint, automatic watering units and updated electrical wiring.
Hilltop Ranch offers English, Western and Driving lessons for students as young as 4 years of age, in addition to birthday parties, carriage rides and horse therapy.
A heated lounge with a large window overlooks the arena and provides seating. A TV/VCR player is available for parents and visitors to use during parties or lessons.
An attached kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, sink and cupboards, restroom, and shower provide all the comforts of home for a day at the stable.
Riding birthday parties provide children with an hour of riding time.
"We lead them around on the horses," Hoeger said, noting that children are required to wear helmets provided by the stable.
Parents can rent the lounge at Hilltop Ranch for cake and party treats after the riding is over. "They can use our kitchen and bring whatever they want for their child’s party," Beranek said.
Hilltop Ranch also maintains a well-stocked tack shop. “It plays a major role in our business out here,” Beranek said.
The shop offers English and Western tack, mini and draft items, driving harnesses, feed and sawdust. It also carries name brand jeans, t-shirts, caps, purses, wallets and jewelry.
Beranek supervises the stable operations with the assistance of Carrie, who is the stable manager. Two other employees and a part-time volunteer assist in the daily operations, lessons, chores and exercise needs for the horses.
Hilltop Ranch is listed on a registry for people who are traveling through Eastern Iowa and need a place to board their horse overnight.
“That can be a very hard thing for people to locate when traveling through Iowa for overnight stays,” Beranek said.
Hilltop Ranch also provides overflow boarding for horse owners participating in events at Kirkwood Community College's Equestrian Center.
“We have a lot of people from out of town who come in for shows that are overbooked and they need a place to put their horse," Beranek said.
At a glance