Keeping School Horses Sane

It takes happy horses to make happy customers … and if your horses aren’t happy, then we think your business is missing the point!

We started small, as many lesson businesses do.

We had two horses, Zahtar and Heaven, our personal riding horses that were old enough, schooled enough and safe enough to use part-time as lesson ponies. We thought they could teach three or four lessons per week to help earn their keep.

And earn their keep they did: suddenly, we had twenty students, summer day camps, in-house schooling shows, and the phone just kept on ringing!

The ponies were definitely teaching lessons more than three days a week … and getting cranky about it.

Out came the saddles, back went the ears

Zahtar, our resident saint, started drifting longingly toward the gate, and could only be coerced into the trot after a lengthy look at the crop.

Heaven, normally a Ferrari disguised as a horse, became similarly reluctant to canter – assuming you could catch her in the first place.

grumpy school horse face

We were learning a persistent truth about the lesson business: finding good school horses is hard, making good school horses is harder, and keeping them good is hardest of all.

Eventually, we had a much larger equine workforce that could share the load, and our horses gained a reputation for being rock-solid, lovable partners.

Along the way, we developed some strategies to keep our horses physically and mentally sound.

When your business booms, you have to become an advocate for your horses as well as for your bottom line:

equine bodywork therapy for school horse
Courtesy of Equine Body Harmony
happy students riding in open with ground buddy

Of course, one of the most important things we can do for our horses is to create compassionate students who prioritize the horse's well-being over their own goals

Teach your students to read subtle equine body language, and emphasize the importance of unmounted education (including basic horse psychology) from their very first lesson.

If you don’t advocate for your horses, you can’t expect your students to!

Pink Level Ribbon Horsey Happiness

We expect our school horses to turn a profit, and we expect them to work long hours along with us

In exchange, we want them to think their lives are pretty great.

It takes happy horses to make happy customers… and if your horses aren’t happy, then your lesson program might be missing the point!

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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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