JOPLIN, MISSOURI—A new spa and wellness concept is changing the way we think about self-improvement getaways.

This spring, Deana Allen, 52, launched her flagship ‘RideON!’ equine bootcamp and wellness spa based out of her 30-stall barn in the rolling Ozark Mountains of Southwest Missouri. While participants aren’t riding, per se, they are fully immersed in every aspect of day-to-day horse care.

Allen says the motivation for her new enterprise first came to her in a dream.

“I remember, it was a Thursday night, in the dead of winter. I’d spent all day at the barn, cleaned 20-plus stalls, swept, fed, watered, and turned-out horses. I had eight lessons that day; I’d ridden four, power-washed the mud off the fences, groomed a few retirees. I could barely lift my arms, they were aching so bad, and all the Jergens in the world couldn’t keep my hands from blistering and cracking in the cold.

“It was the kind of bone-weary exhaustion that only comes from working with horses day-in, day-out out in the elements—half the time by yourself when your staff calls in with ‘car trouble.’ I wanted to quit; at the very least, I wanted to cry. But I’m not a crier,” Allen says.

“Then, suddenly, out of the darkness, it’s like a voice came to me. The question wasn’t if I was still up to the challenge, the question was, who else was? That’s when I realized I was looking at this whole thing the wrong way.

“I mean, who wouldn’t want this?”

That night, RideON! was born: A sort of horse barn-meets-bootcamp experience for 6-12 participants at a time. Based on Allen’s “highly-proprietary” curriculum, RideON! challenges guests—who bunk on-site at Allen’s farm—to survive seven days of typical horse care tasks at a boarding and training facility, with full instruction provided for those without equestrian experience.

A schedule for daily RideON! sessions might look like this:


  • Meditative Mucking OR ‘5 a.m. Club’ (also mucking, but with someone screaming at you to “hurry up” and “don’t waste shavings!”)
  • Morning Feed & Nutritional Lecture (sample topic: ‘Beet Pulp: It’s Right for Horses, Could it Be Right for You?’)
  •  Back-Field Turnout – Group 1 (power-walk horses out; jog back)
  • 15-Minute Breakfast Sandwich/Coffee & Reflection at the 7-Eleven


  • Mindfulness Workshop & Grooming Instruction: ‘How to Be Present and Participatory’ (groom/tack 4-5 horses for afternoon lessons)
  • Back-Field Turnout/Bring In – Group 2 (switch turnout groups; power-walk out and back)
  • Full-Body Sculpt (bathe/groom/put away horses after afternoon lessons)
  • ‘On-the-Move’ Bag Lunch/Coffee Break (while sweeping/straightening tack room)


  • Upper Extremity Strength & Mobility (water bucket scrubbing/refilling)
  • Choose Your Own Workshop A: Personal Empowerment Training (stacking hay bales)
  • Choose Your Own Workshop B: Rake, Chisel, Burn (arena edging)
  • Choose Your Own Workshop C: You vs. the Machine (mowing/string-trimming fence lines)


  • Optional Cold-Trough Plunge Therapy or Free Time (10 minutes)
  • Back Field Turn-In (jog out/power-walk horses back)
  • Speed-Picking Paddock Challenge (who can fill their wheelbarrow first?)


  • Team Building: Double Water Bucket Fill, Haul, & Aisle-Sweep Relay Race
  • Afternoon Feed & Nutritional Lecture (sample topic: ‘Make Like a Horse! How to Maintain Your Ideal Girth/Height Ratio’)
  • 5 p.m. **Corona Happy Hour (**limes not included)  
  • Grill Your Own Dinner!


  • Draw the Short-Straw’ Night Check

Deana Allen says she hasn’t had any more soul-searching nights since RideON! launched early this spring. In fact, she says, she’s never slept better. “My body hurts less, the farm looks amazing, I’m out of the red, and we finish up by 4:30 p.m. every day,” reports Allen, who brushes off RideOn!’s current one-star Yelp rating, noting that whatever the “internet trolls” have to say, she’s fully booked through the summer.

“I guess a few keyboard warriors took to the Interwebs to whine about my delivery. But isn’t boot camp supposed to be hard? If they can survive the week, our RideOn! participants leave the program fitter, stronger, and with more grit than they ever came in with,” Allen continues.

“All I can say, is, they’re welcome.”

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