Natural horsemanship, or ground school, lessons are usually unmounted and are exceptionally valuable, as they teach the importance of leadership, clear communication with your horse, and creating a horse that trusts you. These provide a good foundation for all mounted work. Lessons use safe, calm school horses, or you may take lessons on your own horse. All lessons are tailored to the student’s individual needs, ability, and goals. All lessons are based on horse training techniques that allow free flow of communication between horse and handler. The rider learns to ‘ask’ the horse for a movement, not ‘make’ the horse do something. This creates a positive atmosphere in which the horse and handler work as a team. All of our lessons are $50/hour and focus on becoming a well-rounded horse-person that is safe and knowledgeable.
Lessons focus on creating handlers who are strong leaders for their horses, not just passengers. Our main goal is to create handlers that are thinking, considerate leaders for their horses and to help our students achieve their own goals. All students learn to groom, saddle, and bridle their horses; we think it is very important that the student not think of the horse as a ‘vehicle’. The responsibilities of grooming and tacking up keeps the horse comfortable and healthy.
We have a range of school tack that students may use, or they may use their own tack (so long as it is safe and fits their horse correctly). We also request that students wear boots or closed-toed shoes with at least 1/4″ heel and comfortable clothes that they can easily move in during their lessons. The safety of horse and rider is always our primary concern.
Most of our lessons are private, although we occasionally do small-group lessons (usually no more than two or three students per group lesson). By having private or small-group lessons, the student receives much more individual attention and is able to progress more safely and quickly. Smaller lesson sizes also keep the horses happier, because their student-handlers are educated about how to consider their horse’s needs and the student and horse develop a better relationship. Advanced students sometimes have larger group (3-4 students) lessons so that they may observe their peers in action and discuss training ideas and techniques.
Lessons are generally one hour long, which includes approximately 30 minutes for grooming and tacking up, followed by 30 minutes of riding. Once you can tack up, steer and control your horse, you can advance to dressage or jumping lessons. These advanced lessons do NOT including tacking up time and you will be expected to come early to groom and tack up your horse.
The safety of our students is our primary concern and because we have a covered arena, we are generally able to hold lessons, rain or shine. However, if there is lightning, high winds, or extremely heavy rain that could cause flooding, or the weather otherwise makes it unsafe to be in the covered arena, lessons will continue for the day as “unmounted” lessons in which the students will learn about any of a wide range of topics that are appropriate for the students’ age and skill level. These topics might include saddle and bridle fitting and care, horse health and anatomy, horse care and maintenance, exercise and training theory, or other equestrian topic of interest to the student. Unmounted lessons are a fun and informative supplement to regular riding lessons and are our way of making the best of bad weather. We want our students to have a well-rounded equestrian education and bad weather gives us an opportunity to teach our students about equine subjects that might not be covered during traditional riding lessons.