Meet Anna Turnbull: Altebly Stables and the Northumberland County Riders Horse Club

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying your time at Altebly Stables. You might even be counting down the time until you get to return.

Altebly means “all too happy” in the Afrikaans language and the staff there strive for horses, humans, dogs and cats to be all that they can be and all too happy doing it, says Anna Turnbull.

Located in Centreton in Northumberland County, Altebly Stables offers coaching in Western and English disciplines.

“It’s based on creating a safe and fun place for people to learn and try new things,” Turnbull said. “I really encourage an all around riding style and an all around understanding of the horses from the ground up. It includes a lot of ground time, a lot of making sure you’re safe around the horses when your feet are on the ground.”

Ages of participants are varied and there is a diverse range of riding abilities as well, from special needs riders to some who are highly competitive.

“There’s a lot going on at Team Turnbull,” she said. “We really emphasize the team part of it. We all work together to get the job done and I’m nowhere without my wonderful barn family.”

Turnbull has had students as young as three and as old as 78.

“My motto has always been that when people come to the barn I want them to have had such a good time that they’re just counting down the minutes until they come back,” she remarked. “I really emphasize catering to the person to meet their needs so if I’m seeing a lot of anxiety then we’re just going to go slow and we’re going to get comfortable with the horse on the ground and we’re going to build up to get them on the saddle. I find with those young kids, especially ones who are a little nervous, it doesn’t take very long.”

Some people get into riding later in life or in some cases pick it back up later in life, perhaps when their children have grown up. There’s a number of reasons why riding appeals to adults.

“I have older people who ride with me who have some traumas in their life and they really share with me how the effect of being around the horses really helps with their coping as memories are coming back to them in their older age,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said “it takes a village” to run lessons at Altebly as people need to care for the horses, clean stalls and help the young students as well. Summer camps present an opportunity for students to spend more time out of the saddle and learn more about chores and equipment that is very important to the riding experience.

“It’s a good opportunity in the summertime to kind of slow things down a little bit and flesh out the other aspects of riding,” she said.

Turnbull would encourage anyone, for themselves or their children, to spend more time around horses and give riding a chance. The benefits are numerous once you get in the saddle.

“It’s a great thing to try and it develops character from so many angles, from your personal strength to your mental wellness to community. There’s just so many positive aspects of riding that have nothing to do with actually being in the saddle,” Turnbull said. 

“I really encourage people to at least come on out to the barn and check it out, any barn, not just my barn. Check out horses in general and you’ll be amazed by the therapeutic benefits above and beyond just the riding that comes with it.”

Altebly Stables

Castleton, Ontario 



Anna Turnbull is also a big supporter of the Northumberland County Riders’ Horse Club, which is celebrating around 40 years of offering the community a fun learning environment for schooling shows.

“Our classes run a wide range of disciplines with lots of variety. We really encourage people to come out and give it a try,” Turnbull said. “All of our judges are warm and welcoming and take the time to teach people, which is very important to me…to have judges that are going to help build our young riders up and create these fun opportunities to grow and learn and compete and get rewarded for that hard work you put in. I really appreciate that about the NCR teams, that we can all work together.”

It’s personal for Turnbull who participated in Northumberland County Riders’ shows growing up. She began showing when she was 10 years old and is 33 now.

“I feel very connected to it and I think it’s very special to be able to take my own students back there and share that with them because it was a huge part of the growth of my riding,” she said.

“I’m competitive by nature so I really relished the opportunity to show off, for lack of a better term. I really took riding seriously and I really worked hard at it. I rode three or four times a week so it was a really great chance for me to use that hard work and validate my efforts.”

Turnbull was part of a group of five or six other girls who regularly attended the shows.

“There was always a little friendly competition, but we also supported each other in the anxiety and the stress and shared the mistakes we could see being made and how we weren’t going to make those same mistakes as those other riders,” she recalled. “For me it became something to work towards. Every year that was the highlight. Getting the horses ready the day before, making them look all pretty and getting myself dressed up the morning of and then putting all that hard work to use to get a fancy ribbon at the end of it.”

Northumberland County Riders’ Horse Club has a new location this year at the Roseneath Fairgrounds. They had one show in May already and have three more scheduled for June 12, August 14 and October 2. The events are open horse shows, all breeds of horses are welcome.

“We’re encouraging people who have never come out to NCR to come check us out,” Turnbull said.

There are youth and adult divisions available.

“It does give kids a place to show without having to show up against adults who have been riding a lot longer, but it also gives the adult riders who may not have been riding very long to have a class of their own where they don’t have to show against the kids and show off their own skills.”