Firefly Acres Bringing People and Their Dreams Together
304 Tandy Lane
Sparta, TN 38583

Owned and Operated by:
Pete and Bambi Dillingham

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Our "starter" training curriculum for the average horses begins with a 25 lesson package that develops a horse on the ground and in the saddle. Using passive techniques we help each horse discover confidence and manners that define a good trail riding experience. Exercises like "respect my space", ground tying, standing still during mounting, emergency stops, a soft backup and stop, side passing and many other tools are the foundation to safe and enjoyable rides. Each owner of a horse is encouraged to participate in any or all of these lessons. After each session a journal is recorded to give its reader insight into the personality and development of their horse. The final ride is a three to four hour journey through wooded trails, streams, mud, and a variety of terrain. When a horse leaves Firefly Acres, it has all the rules in place and just needs the "seasoning" of miles of trails. Follow up training packages address more exposures to the "real world", desensitization to "horse-eating" threats and more sensitive communication in the saddle.
Photos and Testimonials
Dear Pete,
I cannot thank you enough for helping me to realize my dream of having my two horses trained to ride and me, at the beginning of retirement years, learning to ride them.
So many things delayed that happening until this year. I'm certain this was because God knew the perfect timing and means.
Watching you and working with you was magic. You have given me the tools and the skills to use them. I've always known Gabe and Echo are special horses. You have brought out the very best in them.
Having you here at my home yesterday to help work out a few kinks in my real world was absolutely amazing. I can't thank you enough and recommend you to everyone I speak with about horses.
God bless, Mary
Thank you for everything you've done for "Ruthie" and me... Money can't buy the gift you have with horses and their people. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Dear Pete,
Cody and I are now enjoying the beautiful trails here at Long Branch Lakes. As you know, he and I had some of the same problems, namely, fear and lack of confidence. Your skill and understanding helped us overcome these obstacles. Cody is a great trail horse now. I can't thank you enough.
I cannot express how thrilled I am with the results of Pete's working with my horse. When I went to pick up my paso fino Pete demonstrated all the tools he used to iron out some of Brio's kinks. Then I got to be trained too. Thank you Pete for giving me a path to follow to be a more sensitive rider and to be a partner with my horse. Bambi and her hospitality were the icing on the cake. Thank you, thank you.
Susan Shuman
Dublin GA
"Thanks Pete for fine tuning my horse, Sunny. I have seen a remarkable difference in his response to subtle cues for slowing down and navigating hills with more caution. He has been a pleasure to work with using the tools that we learned at Firefly Acres. I love the approach you take with horses and would recommend time at Firefly Acres for anyone who wants to develop a better working relationship with their horse."
Mary Thompson
Hi Pete!
You did a great job!
Dakota is excelling on the trail rides. I'm very happy with him and his progress. I have only been able to ride him off property once but I've rode him on the property 5 times since I picked him up. I'm working with Dakota every day. He and I are beginning to speak the same language and understand each other. I'm looking forward to a long and close relationship with him. Thank you again for everything you and Bambi can do for our horses!
Best Regards
Paul & Michelle Rine
Sparta Tennessee is fortunate to have horse trainer Pete Dillingham. He's good with horses and good with people. I've had two of my horses trained by Pete and am planning to bring another to Firefly Acres next spring.
Frank Teeple
Sparta TN
We have been breeding and raising Rocky Mtn./Kentucky Mtn. horses here in middle Tennessee since 2007. The biggest challenge for us has been finding a trainer who cares about our horses as much as we do. Pete and Bambi at Firefly Acres are kind and gentle people who have handled and trained our “babies” in exactly the same way they have been raised, with love for the animal! After having seven horses from our farm trained at Firefly Acres we can attest to the results of Pete’s natural training methods customized to the individual horse. Our horses return to us confident, trail ready, and eager to please. Pete goes above and beyond to ensure that we, as riders, are “speaking the same language” as our horses. This ensures a positive outcome for all subsequent riding experiences. Instead of a series of miscues and misunderstandings we have a horse/rider TEAM that ENJOY the ride TOGETHER! (Isn’t that the goal?) Mark and I cannot thank Bambi and Pete enough for being such a huge blessing to all of us at Eagle’s View Mountain Horse Farm on behalf of Big Jon, Stormy, Jobe, Maggie, Phoenix, Carolina, Deacon, and those in waiting!
Pete has been a blessing to us. I was raised riding horses but quickly realized that I knew nothing about training or working with horses. My husband had even less experience than myself and was very much intimidated by horses although he had a desire to learn to ride. Under Pete's training and encouragement we now have the ability and confidence to safely work with our horses.
Not only has Pete worked with myself and my husband, he recently trained our spotted mare Jazzie. When we brought Jazzie to Firefly Acres she had never been ridden but after Pete worked his "magic" she is ready for the trails. We will use Pete in the future for any other training needs.
Meichelle and Mike Knoblock
Cookville, TN
Shahene needed to know that there was more to riding than in the arena. Pete introduced him to the world of trail riding. In a matter of a few weeks, Shahene became confident on all types of terrain. He can now manage steep hills, mud, water crossings and various distractions both in the woods and along the road. Pete's commitment to the natural horsemanship philosophy perfectly complimented Shahene's initial training. That communication avenue produced amazing results and I am thrilled with my new trail horse. Thanks Pete!
Shirley Kransteubar
South Carolina
Hi Pete,
Phoenix is an angel. We went on the 4 day ride at Big South Fork last weekend. ALL of the other riders were extremely impressed with Phoenix's attitude and demeanor. No one could believe it was Phoenix's first trail ride after training. During the Big South Fork ride, I even received an offer to purchase Phoenix from some other riders who joined up with us. I am very happy with Phoenix and especially glad we found you to begin Phoenix. I sent you a 5 year old horse who had never had a saddle nor bridle and you returned a well mannered "trail ready" happy horse whom I am proud to be able to call mine.
We will be sending 2 more horses whenever you are able to take them.
I continue to give all the credit to you and your teaching methods and will definitely recommend Firefly Acres to any horse owner along my highest praise.
Best Regards
Paul Rine
Watertown, TN
Hi Pete!!
I keep meaning to email you to tell you how great Gamble has been doing! Taking Gamble to you was the best decision I have ever made for him! Working with you on getting his head set and working on his focus and attention span has really made a big difference! I went on another trail ride today with him and he acted like he has been doing it his whole life! And it is all thanks to you! You made my baby foal into a wonderful trail horse and I cannot thank you enough for that! I am sending a couple pictures too because I thought you wanted to have one of us :)
Thanks again!
Lara Grigsby, Cookeville TN
Hi Pete,
I thank you for the superb job you did with Ovation. I really enjoyed our conversations and gained a lot of knowledge from you. I feel your technique was and is the right technique for horses. Again, thanks for a job well done. I appreciate it and would have no problem passing on my thoughts to others and recommending you.
Frank Galovic
WOW! There are truly no words to express my appreciation for what you did for me and my horse! We brought her home on Wednesday. We did a 3-day ride on Fri-Sunday and it was such a pleasure to ride Lexi! She is just waiting for my Que's. She ground tied the entire weekend! I started off every morning with the same routine - a little lounging for respect lesson, then I hopped on and did my left and right flexing, checked my back up and we hit the trail! I've continued to ride in the wonder bit, no chin strap and she did great. We still have work on being left behind. But her worst temper was no more than a strong head toss. She side passed and yielded to my leg pressure every time! It did make a difference when I gave her a job to focus on. Thank you Thank You Thank You Thank You! I would never consider taking my horses to anyone else ever again!
Lisa Sylvia

Hi Pete,
Just wanted to send you a note to let you know how impressed I was with your training results on my two young ladies Lexus and Annie. I also have much appreciated all the time you've spent teaching me to help continue on with their education and experiences.
I was really impressed with these girls and you after our rides in town and at the Walmart as well as on the highways.
The cabins were great. I will hopefully comeback for more training or at least to visit in the beautiful surroundings.
Tell Bambi again thanks for the cookies, they were really good.
Talk to you soon,
David Kin
Good evening, I just came back from a five hour ride on the mountain. Sunshine was great. It was a small group of six. I really think if I had tried to do the training I would have a pasture ornament instead of a trail buddy for life. Thank you for putting such a solid foundation on her. Say hi to Bambi.
McMinnville, TN.
To Whom is may concern;
I recently had my 3yr old gelding (Briar) at firefly acres for training. All I can say is that the results have been remarkable! Not only has Pete done wonders with my horse, but in a few short hours he has helped me tremendously. Pete has a unique ability to put horsemanship into layman's terms and has is helped me get to a place I should have been a long time ago. I know that Firefly Acres's reputation speaks for itself, but I felt compelled to put in my two cents.
Respectfully, Mel
Jasper, Ga.
Ben or as Pete calls him, "Big Ben" was my new 6yr old Arabian Saddlebred cross. His poor behavior was a product of doing nothing for 2 years with his previous owners and my novice ability to train him. Ben loves attention, very smart but spoiled and lazy to the core. No ground manners, no "respect my space" and this horse had successfully buffaloed me to fear and stop riding him. I needed help and so did Ben.
I took him to Firefly Acres to work with Pete and it was indeed the best decision I could have ever made to train Ben and me how to be better partners on and off the trail.
It's one thing to train horses, but it is unusual to have someone who will take the time to listen and understand the rider and horse and their relationship before, during and at the conclusion of the training. Pete is an incredible trainer/teacher who taught me lifelong skills/tools and showed me the path to regain my confidence as a rider and to expect the best from Ben when I asked for it. Pete taught me firm & friendly begets trust. Ben learned ground tying, manners, respect my space and his job to be a savvy trail horse. Ben returned home a better, kinder horse with a language we both understood.
When I took Ben to Firefly Acres I wasn't sure if Ben and I were going to work out. Now - I love my horse; we're having fun doing ground work and long rides on the trails! Thanks Pete!

PS My husband, 2 K-9s, and I loved our weekend in the "dog house" cabin. We're looking forward to our next visit! Debbie & Big Ben Canton, Georgia
Prince is doing great! Nobody believes he is only a 4 yr old when they meet us on the trail. He has had snakes run under his feet, we've seen bear, accidentally stirred up yellow jackets and during these times he maintained composure. He has never argued when leaving other horses. I constantly have to remind myself that he is still new at this. Prince is one the "most fun" horses I have ever ridden.
I cant thank you enough!!
Cumming, Ga.
I Love letting you know that I had another great day in the beautiful woods with Frazier today. Each time we ride, it is so nice to be part of his growth.
I can't ever thank you enough for what you have given me!
Happy Thanksgiving to you & Bambi

When in Doubt, let your Horse do the Thinking...
Sharon Gibson & Frazier
Ringgold GA.
Hi Pete,
We went out with the boys and I wanted to let you know how it went. Tobey was unbelievable! He stood while I put on his tack and he DID NOT RESIST his bridle!
I could not believe how easy it was to collect him. When I ask him to be a "statue" he did really good. I had to back him once...but I could not believe how soft he was. Our ride was very short so I did not practice disengaging his hips..but we are going to set up some tires and work on this later in the week.
I am so excited about the tools you have given me to communicate with Tobey. I had no idea I was responsible for so much of his bad behavior. He already seems like a different horse. I want you to know I have remembered to give him lots of love because he really did try hard today!
Thank you for a very special weekend! We are definitely coming back in the fall!!!!!
Blessings to you and Bambi,
It is an awesome responsibility to bring along a young horse to become a good citizen. Pete accomplished this with Ozzie, my 4y/o SE Arab, who although already under saddle, was sassy and willful. I knew I needed someone to further Ozzie's training who would be both firm and sensitive. Pete had been brought to my attention by a good friend. As I asked around about him, everyone I spoke to had only good things to say about Pete's training. Turns out he also has a "soft spot" for Arabians -- another PLUS!! It was absolutely worth the time and effort to get Ozzie to Pete. Also, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy the great cabin accommodations and Bambi's "world famous" chicken pot pie to warm you after a day of intensive training with Pete.

Betty Altman
Ball Ground, Georgia
Dear Pete, I wanted to give you an update on my progress with Sunny. Every day I feel as if Sunny and I are more "bonded" since we worked with you. I am also applying those same lessons to Charlie (my other horse) with great success!
The farrier came out on Monday and I wanted to see how Sunny would do without being cross-tied. Sunny usually gets antsy after the first 20-30 minutes. He will also shift back and forth, and try to pull his leg away while being shod. Sunny stood calmly, offering little or no resistance! His was relaxed, did some licking/chewing, and even sought attention (on his head where you loved on him!). The farrier was extremely impressed with Sunny's behavioral changes! I feel so fortunate to have Sunny in my life, and for the support you give us.
Sincerely, Julee
South Carolina

Morning Pete. Thanks for all your experience and encouragement in our training sessions with "Trouble" and "Trooper" yesterday. I loved watching what you can "teach" horses. I truly was amazed we got Trouble to walk through your "wall of barrels, and Trooper to stand in tires he once was afraid of. Too cool!
Jamestown, TN

I really enjoyed the lesson I had with "Tango today. Thank you so much for being patient and understanding and of course…. always complimentary. Positive reinforcement goes a long way! Looking forward to seeing you next week!
-Meg Swann
Cookeville TN

Dear Pete,
I want to thank you for all the work you have put into Hot Shot. I have ridden him several times since he's been home and I am more pleased each time I ride him. Recently we rode in the mountains with several friends. I rode out front and way behind. Our farrier (who rode with us) had nothing but praise for Hot Shot's headset and attitude.
I also appreciate the way you taught me to work with Hot Shot. I have thoroughly enjoyed putting into practice things I've learned and hope I'm doing everything right! I must be, because Hot Shot is better each time I ride.
Thanks again Pete.
Carol Ewing
Alpharetta, GA
A good relationship between horse and its' owner is hard to describe. For two years (since he was a colt) I have worked with my young gelding, Paco, building that bond. RFD, reading, "trial and error" and friends have been my tutors. However, I needed to further my education and started a search for someone to help. That's when I found Pete's card on a local business bulletin board.
When I called, Pete invited me to Firefly Acres to observe his approach to training and his techniques. I left that day knowing I found a trainer who understood horses, people and the importance of an owner's involvement in the training process.
During every hour of Paco's lessons, I was there…training my horse with Pete coaching and monitoring our growth. I have gained so much knowledge about how horses think, how eager they are to learn, and how to deal with challenges. Too many other trainers "know it all" and can make an owner feel inadequate. Not Pete, he's a teacher of a horse and man….and I highly recommend his training program, fully endorse his methods and encourage you to do the same.
A good relationship between a horse and its' owner is hard to describe…..but wonderful when achieved.
Mike Griggs
Sparta, TN
When I rescued Phoenix last year, he was headed to the "market". He was a 7 year old Arabian stallion with no name or a trace of human kindness. However, it was very obvious that he wanted to please and be loved. I have had Arabians for 25 years and knew he was special. I had Phoenix gelded, started his training, ran into several problems (including having to tranquilize him for farrier) and realized I needed help. In my search for a good trainer, Pete's name kept surfacing so I took Phoenix to Tennessee. In the first session Pete was picking up all four of his feet. I was sold. Since then, Pete has worked wonders with Phoenix. His love, hugs and patience with Phoenix paid off.
In the beginning Pete asked what my goals for Phoenix were. I said I wanted a safe and trusting trail horse and I got it!
Thank you Pete for all you did for Phoenix and me.
Cindy Young
Kennesaw, Ga.
As an adult, I finally realized a childhood dream. My family and I fell in love with and bought our neighbor's new foal. Like many non-experienced horse lovers do, we purchased "Lillie" with our hearts and had no idea where to start. As she continued to grow, we realized we needed help. After a few failed attempts to find the "perfect trainer", we found Pete.
Within a short time, Lillie was a new horse. She was ground tying, respecting my space, circling, standing still for saddling and riding. Most importantly, using Pete's horse psychology, she and I started to established a friendship.
The amazing thing was the Lillie wasn't the only one being taught. In Lillie's training, I've learned some very important "life lessons" about assertiveness, confidence, relationship building, problem solving, communication and leadership skills. You could say that I had some unexpected "Equine Assisted Therapy." These are lessons that I will carry with me in and out of the saddle for life.
Pete always says, "You get what you expect, so set your expectations high." If you have high expectations in a horse trainer, you will not be disappointed with Pete. You might just learn something about your horse…and yourself.
Amy and Lillie
Pikeville, TN
I want to thank you for the work you have done with our horses. The training techniques that you use give positive results. The horses return home with good ground manners and looks forward to each ride.
I particularly like the fact that all of our horses use the same cues when we are either doing ground work or are in the saddle. It sure makes life easier when all the horses respond the same.
The journal that you provide during the training is very important as it keeps me informed on how the horse is progressing and includes me in the training process. I keep the journals on all the horses that you have trained and refer to them when needed- they are also wonderful to have when selling a horse as the journal can be given to the new owner who then understands what training the horse has had.
I know people who have sent their horse off for training for a month or two and when I ask them how the horse is progressing they don't know which tells me the person training the horse is not communicating with the owner as you do.
For the most part they don't go ride their horse while it is training so the horse is trained but not the rider- a big mistake in my book. It sure helps not only the rider but the trainer when he/she can see the owner ride the horse they are training. After all, the problem may not be the horse. I cannot thank you enough for working with our horses -- it is easy for us when we have a visitor
to explain and show them the cues the horses know while in the saddle side by side. This makes the ride not only more enjoyable for the rider but for our horse as well.
Thanks again-
John Brandreth
Brandreth Farms
Talking Rock, Georgia
Pete, I just wanted to take the time to thank you for what you have done with my girls. Rachel and her horse Misty are amazing! Misty absolutely LOVES Rachel and genuinely wants to try to please her. we owe a huge amount of this to your help starting Misty (and Rachel, too!). We would love to have you back out maybe next summer to help them both continue to grow together.
Love and best wishes,
The Kinser Family, Sparta, TN
Having a horse with trailer loading issues (wouldn't get on), I asked other horse folks for someone to help me. I received a lot of negative remarks like, "not an Arabian Horse"! After chatting via email with someone who has Arabian Horses, Pete Dillingham's name came up. Pete worked with me and my horse, "Winddancer". Now my Arabian and I are loading up, traveling down the road and having wonderful trail rides. Pete's patience, knowledge and love for horses has changed my relationship with my horse. For that I am forever blessed.
Sharon Gibson and Winddancer
Ringgold, Georgia
This letter introduces riding instructor and horse trainer Pete Dillingham. My wife and I recently became caretakers of three horses: a mare, a stud and a foal. We've previously had little experience handling horses and sought Pete's assistance. Mr. Dillingham's patience, knowledge and teaching skills have given us the competence and confidence to safely enjoy our new family on the ground and in the saddle. We would highly recommend Pete to anyone wanting an instructor who knows horses, knows people and knows how to put them together.
Stephen J. Grella
Stonecreek Development LLC
11728 State Road 111
Spencer Tennessee 38585
Hi Fellow Horse Lover:
If you want a top of the line trainer, who can do it all: Pete Dillingham is the best. I have 7 young straight Egyptian Arabians and Pete gave them ground training, grooming, farrier manners, broke in 2 to saddle and taught me a bunch about horses. I like Pete’s style of training and his patience with the energetic Arabians. I only wish Pete had stayed longer in Georgia, so that I could have learned more about the finer points of riding and training. The other aspects of Pete are his good character and reliable, steady trustworthiness. If you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer. You will not be sorry if you hook up with Pete.
David Debra
Sahalee Farm
More recommendations available upon request.