Our Focus

We think of our horsemanship classes as the place for all-round horse-related learning. That’s where we teach the skills and the knowledge to train and care for horses. Week by week, we rotate among different horsemanship frameworks — such as natural horsemanship, positive reinforcement, intrinsic motivation; different skill development focuses — such as husbandry, ground work, safety; different knowledge development angles — such as diet, anatomy, natural behavior, tack, hoof care, breeds, and general horse know-how.

The beginner program focuses on:

  • Supporting individuals who are interested in developing the skills necessary to eventually lease, own, or adopt their own horse
  • Building autonomy in horse care and training – how to be a great horse owner!
  • Foundational skills of safety (pressure and release), two-way communication (positive reinforcement), horse training (all of the above + intrinsic motivation), and horse care (first aid, nutrition, living environment, etc.). 
  • Students will learn about energy, space, non-verbal communication, and respect for each other (which are applicable beyond the horse world!)

Sooooooo what does this mean? Well, if you are looking for purely riding lessons, we are NOT the right fit. If you wish to get to know horses holistically so that one day, when you adopt your own horse, you will feel competent and stress-free (or well, as stress free as horse-owning can be :P), then you are in the right place!

We have horsemanship classes for all ages (Child, Teen and Adult) and levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced), and new students can access them after attending New Student Orientation.

 

Each program includes 6 classes (one class per week for 6 consecutive weeks). There will be one make-up week at the end. Other missed classes cannot be rescheduled or reimbursed so please be sure you’re available for all of the dates before signing up. 

Adult Beginner Horsemanship Goals

We have a checklist for our Beginner Horsemanship Students (of all ages). It is a constant work in progress but we are happy to share where we are at with it as of now. Once any student is able to cross these items of the list, they will be able to move to our Intermediate Horsemanship Classes!

Here it is:

Safety 

✓ Stay safe IN the track
✓ Haltering independently
✓ Gate protocol
✓ Tying
✓ Multiple cinchings
✓ Lead from the ground, understanding despooking in situations full of distractions
✓ Courtesy bubble
✓ Courtesy bubble, hind-quarters yield, forequarters yield at liberty
✓ How to feed & how often to feed with Positive Reinforcement
✓ Calm Default Stationing with Positive Reinforcement
✓ Emergency dismount; one-rein stop (from horseback)

On-Line & At Liberty

✓ Lead “horse of the day” in the track, to the gate, to tie rack and to the arena
✓ Lead from the ground in different situations (arena, obstacles, trail)
✓ Basic liberty behaviors with Positive Reinforcement

Care and Tack

✓ Performing body-scans to assess potential pain or injuries
✓ Grooming independently (including hoof-picking)
✓ Tacking up independently, English or Western

Riding

✓ How to ask for and receive consent to get on their back
✓ Build your horses ability to ask you to get off their back
✓ Mastering seat at walk, trot and canter while being lunged (with saddle, with bareback pad and surcingle)
✓ Hind-quarter yield
✓ Halt
✓ Backup
✓ Steering independently at walk and trot (circles, patterns, courses)
✓ Circling to slow down
✓ Posting trot

Horses

At the beginning of our students’ horsemanship journeys, they may share horses. Inviting, leading and preparing horses with a 1:1 ratio would be very time-consuming, and we would end up spending most of our time doing just that, leaving us no play time at all. As time goes by and they gain more independence in many of the points in the checklist above, we will then be able to invite more horses in.
A note on variability
In our horsemanship classes, we do not guarantee that you will be working with the same horse each time. In fact, we very much encourage our students to get to know as many horses as possible! Imagine the learning!
If you are interested in developing a relationship with a single horse instead, please ask us about leasing opportunities!

Groups

Since this is a program and not a drop-in class, you will share your horse adventures with the same humans throughout! Only once you’ll have completed your checklist, you will be invited to the Playgrounds – weekly classes focusing on different topics, which are open to all of our Beginner Horsemanship Program graduates, as well as boarders and other horse owners who have gone through enough of our programs that they can cross off the same old items on the same old checklist 

Enrollment

Each program includes 6 classes (one class per week for 6 consecutive weeks). There will be one make-up week at the end. Other missed classes cannot be rescheduled or reimbursed so please be sure you’re available for all of the dates before signing up. 

PREREQUISITES

No matter if you are completely new to horses or if you have previous horse experience, we have a prerequisite for you to attend our Horsemanship Classes – the New Student Orientation! If you are a graduate of Orientation, then go ahead and book away! If not, then talk to us!

Upon enrollment, we will ask you to check a box where you confirm that you understand that this program has limited riding and that all of our programs are focused on becoming sidekicks to happy horses (see “A Note on Riding” below).

 

PROGRAM COST

For the 6 session program

+ $60 add-on if you are partnering with a Hatha Equus horse (for humans who are not yet leasing)

Sample Program

 Each program consists of 6 weeks. It’s expected that you will repeat the program to fully develop these skills! 

Note that exact lessons may vary depending on weather, horse availability, etc.

  • Weeks 1 / 2: Energy & Groundwork (Round Pen)
    • Including: All of Foundations + Lead in all situations (arena, to tie rack, out back), solitary gate opening and closing, hindquarter yield, forehand yield, round pen intention, energy work
  • Weeks 3 / 4: R+ Intro
    • Including: All of Foundations + Proper R+ feeding, calm default, stop/start signals, introduce behaviors at liberty
  • Weeks 5 / 6: Intrinsic Motivation Intro
    • Including: All of the Foundations + Introduction to Intrinsic Motivation (theory, science, tools (crunches, panther walk, ooops I changed my mind, etc.)

    You may have noticed riding isn’t prominent in the sample schedule. Here’s why….

    Horses are our friends & partners and are sentient beings so we believe that:

    • having a relationship and building a partnership is crucial before we ride 
    • it’s important to understand what our horses are communicating to us and how we can communicate with them on the ground before we do so in the saddle
    • horses should consent to riding and we should leave their backs when they ask us to (so we need the skillset to ask for consent and know when they’re asking us to get off)
    • riding is the cherry on top of a relationship with a horse; time spent with them on the ground is just as rewarding and important (and is the 90% time)!

    Given that, we feel that students should be experts in reading horses and communicating with them (back-and-forth via our energy, pressure and release, and positive reinforcement) and building partnership before riding is introduced.

    A Note on Riding

    Riding is not a necessary activity for a horse to be happy — quite the opposite: most of them dislike it! Most of us humans LOVE riding, though, us included! So our team has spent a lot of time, studies, exploration and sweat trying to find a way to introduce it to horses in a way they can themselves find fun.
    It is absolutely possible, yet it takes a while to master this "way".
    Please know, in this sense, that riding will appear later in our programs, and even when it will, it will always happen on the horses' terms!
    Also, let us share this vision with you: once you'll have mastered all the necessary tools, which we are very much committed to sharing with you, we wish you one day to be able to experience the joy and reciprocity of consensual riding! It's one of the best feelings in the world!
    Enjoy a video of Giorgia showing Consensual Riding tools with her mustang Sombra —
    — in particular, Start and Stop Signals.