5 Secret Goals for Teaching Teal Level Horsemanship

Teal Level students can excel at any competitive discipline they choose, English or Western, in the arena or in wide open spaces. They have the skill set to learn how to train or to teach, if their heart pulls them in that direction.


ou know that kid. The one that started out horse-obsessed and only fell deeper in love. The one with bedroom walls plastered with posters of the Olympic equestrian team, who has to be dragged from the barn every night. The one who mucks stalls and rides without stirrups for fun, and never turns down an opportunity to try out a new horse.

Chances are, since you’re reading this, you were that kid once upon a time.

This is the student that Teal Level is made for!

This is where the truly passionate get their time to shine. Where talent only matters if it has the work ethic to match. This is a level for riders who are goal oriented and maybe a little bit hungry — enough that they won’t stop until they see something through.

It’s not that the requirements are exceptionally hard. But they do take a commitment to consistent training and self-improvement.

We’ve found that by the time younger students develop the skill and maturity to ride at this level, they’ve reached an age where there is a lot of external pressure, and plenty of other demands on their time.

To achieve a Teal Horsemanship ribbon, these students need to be able to prioritize their horsey activities. They also need a support system: family, friends, and instructors all helping them achieve their goals.

In short, Teal Level students have to want it. And in turn, here’s what we want for them:

#1 - We want them to love the process

Really good horse training is about as exciting as watching grass grow.

Great horses are built with patient, methodical work, made up of tiny incremental steps and daily practice.

Great riders are built the same way. Even if a student is lucky enough to learn to jump or work cattle or ride dressage movements on an exceptionally good packer, we hope they learn how rewarding the long-term gratification of a training project can be.

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Most of our students have had to bring a horse up to Teal Level along with them, and have been better for it!

# 2 - We want them to bring their brain to the barn

Really good horse trainers are always thinking, analyzing, making plans and then adjusting those plans. They give their horse and their ride their full attention (no texting while schooling!), and respond rationally instead of emotionally.

A Teal Level student probably does not have a coach on hand at all times, ordering their every move. They need to be able to direct their own progress — and there are few things as gratifying as watching a student step into this responsibility.

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There’s a saying that good instructors are always trying to teach themselves out of a job.

Teal Level is usually where students make the transition from needing coaching to appreciating coaching. We give them skills and knowledge, but we also give them confidence in their ability to make their own decisions.

# 3 - We want them to see the good in every horse

By the time a student gets this far, they’ve probably ridden a lot of different horses — the slow horses, the fast horses, maybe a few tricky or stubborn or anxious horses.

We hope our Teal Level are grateful for every horse they get an opportunity to ride. We hope they understand that a horse they find difficult is not a “bad horse,” and appreciate the poorly-schooled or quirky horses for what they are: a challenge to improve!

Dressage legend Robert Dover is known for exclaiming, about any and every horse he sits on, “This horse is a GENIUS!” If our Teal Level students take away even half that enthusiasm for their equine partners, we’ll consider our mission accomplished.


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# 4 - We want them to love the horse first and the sport second

No matter where our Teal Level students go in the horse world, we want them to ride and train with empathy and consideration.

We want them to be able to put their horse’s needs before their own desires and goals, even when it’s really hard. Instead of asking, “What else can this horse do for me?” we want them to think about what they can do for their horse.

After all, it is the generosity of horses that has brought them this far in the first place!

# 5 - We want them to see that their journey doesn’t end here: it’s only beginning

While some of your students will earn a Teal Horsemanship ribbon and walk away from the horse scene satisfied, the rest are probably in it for life. We hope they realize that riding is an art as well as a science, and that they will never stop learning.

We hope they embrace this philosophy and continue to pursue knowledge, to work on their own position and fitness, to see every ride and every horse as a chance to improve.

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Because with this attitude, Teal Level students can go anywhere! They can excel at any competitive discipline they choose, English or Western, in the arena or in wide open spaces. They have the skill set to learn how to train or to teach, if their heart pulls them in that direction. They might be your future assistants and barn managers and equine science majors.

Or maybe they will simply live content with the knowledge that they can ride well and enjoy the company of horses wherever they find it, along with years of good memories!

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We’ve been blessed with many talented photographers over the years: students who voluntarily stood in sweltering/ freezing arenas, capturing lifelong memories of lessons, camps and shows. We’re grateful to all of them!

One former student, Delaney Witbrod, is now a professional photographer with a gift for animal portraits – see more of her fine work here. We’re also grateful for photos of Western riding donated by LLPro instructors – particularly Bit of Pleasure Horse School and Joyful Hearts Photography!

You’ll find illustrations throughout our online courses and printed materials graciously donated by our friend Rhonda Hagy. Evan Surrusco contributes additional illustrations and handles most of our photo processing. Contact us for information about their work.

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