The Boss Mares Blog

Essential School Horse Skills

You want new students to stay, which means you want them to fall in love. Helping your horse become a lovable solid citizen is one of the greatest investments you can make in your lesson business.

Nine Ways to Create the Perfect Partner

You can have the perfect arena, the best program, and the most eager market, but there is one thing you absolutely can’t teach a successful beginner lesson without: an exceptional equine partner.

Not every horse can be a school horse

It takes a special nature, with a generous and forgiving spirit. If the horse doesn’t have this, no amount of work will make them safe and happy partners in your business.

We’ve acquired several horses over the years that failed to adapt to the busy riding school life and had to move on to quieter, single-owner homes.

A horse that hates the job is a roadblock at best and a liability at worst.

Even horses that do have the mental makeup for a school horse require some careful teacher-training

Life as a school horse is HARD – no matter how hard you try to protect them, they’re going to get pulled in the mouth and thumped in the side. They’re going to have stiff, crooked bodies bouncing around on their backs. If business is good, they’re going to work long hours, and some of those hours are going to be pretty boring.

Throwing an untested, unprepared horse into this job is a recipe for disaster!

We think it is worth the time to give your school horses a thorough orientation. This might take days, weeks or months, depending on the horse’s temperament and previous experience.

Sage. When we first met her, she was a bucking, bolting, herd-bound freight train wearing a tack shop’s worth of metal and iron. After a year of patient work, she became our most valuable school horse. Kids fought over her. Women wept over her. She taught umpty-jillion kids to canter.

We’re not going to ask the horse to do work he isn’t comfortable with, and we’re never going to ask a beginner to try something we don’t know for sure that the horse can handle.

Just like teaching human students, this is a process that can’t be rushed. Remember that you are essentially teaching the horse a new discipline, and that just because they are trained to a certain level with skilled riders doesn’t mean they’ll perform the same way with inexperienced students!

Here are some essential skills we need our school horses to master:

instructor teaching school horse to tolerate rider mistakes

There are a few other skills we really want our horses to have, but can live without if the horse passes the previous tests with flying colors.

Ideally, we’d like our horses to…

School horses are the heart of a riding program – and if you’re starting beginners, those horses are a solid 50% of the teaching partnership. You want new students to stay, which means you want them to fall in love. Helping your horse become a lovable solid citizen is one of the greatest investments you can make in your lesson business.

Of course, once you get your horses to this level, it takes some careful management to keep them there!

Look for an LLPro members-only post on Care and Keeping of School Horses.

school horse cartoon © Dana's Doodles
©Dana's Doodles

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We have been blessed with many talented photographers over the years: students who voluntarily stood out in a sweltering/ freezing arena – or slogged up and down our hilly pastures – capturing lifelong memories of camps, clinics, and shows. We’re grateful to all of them!

One such student, Delaney Witbrod, is now a professional photographer with a gift for animal portraits – see more of her fine work here.

You’ll also find illustrations throughout our online courses and printed materials (like study guides) graciously donated by Rhonda Hagy, who is a student and lifelong friend. Contact us for information about her work.

Are we lucky or WHAT?!

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