Teach the Horsemanship Levels
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THE MOUNTED CURRICULUM
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The Learning Levels mounted curriculum is designed for both English and Western riding lessons. As the Levels progress, they intend to give the student a secure and versatile balanced seat, with a well-rounded basic education in flatwork, jumping or polework, and riding in the open.
We believe that a good rider can ride effectively in any saddle, and that many fundamentals of horsemanship are universal. We hope that our students go on to ride in any discipline they choose with correct equitation, an attention to detail and safety, and a thorough understanding of aids and equine psychology.
The Horsemanship Levels concentrate on the rider’s ability in the saddle, culminating in a rider who is balanced, educated and confident, able to ride a well-schooled horse with skill and empathy on the flat and over obstacles, both in the arena and in the open.
Each Level introduces new skills and concepts that build on previous Levels. To earn a Horsemanship ribbon, we expect students to be able to demonstrate these skills while maintaining a secure balanced position and prioritizing the well-being of the horse.
All riding requirements must be met with the student demonstrating a safe, basic balanced position: heels down, eyes up, quiet hands, and a line running from the head through the shoulder and hip to the heel.
- Students with no prior horse experience.
- As a review for students with some experience but new to your program or to your style of riding.
- Experienced students who wish to fill gaps in their mounted education.
- Students who are uninterested or unable to show but still need goals and achievement.
- Students in a camp program.
- Students too young for full mounted lessons can participate in Rainbow Level – and Level Up when they are ready!
WELL-EDUCATED NOVICE INSTRUCTORS – We expect that if you are implementing a lesson program, you have already devoted many hours to learning how to effectively communicate and interact with students of all ages, learning styles and ability levels. The structure of the Learning Levels Horsemanship curriculum – along with lesson plans for our LLPro members – will help give you a good starting framework for your program.
ESTABLISHED INSTRUCTORS – If you’re looking for a system to help stabilize and grow your program, the Learning Levels can help. Use the parts that work for you; modify the rest to suit your needs.
EXPERIENCED RIDERS – As a conscientious instructor, you should not attempt to teach a level beyond that which you can demonstrate; we assume that all of the requirements of the Levels curriculum are tasks that you can perform with ease.
PLEASE make certain that all horses used for instruction are safe, sound, and have been trained to perform and/or accept the skill being taught. While the Levels can be used to help students design goals for their project horses, we hope that all your beginners are able to learn basic skills on appropriately seasoned mounts.
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Searching for inspiration?
Discover some of the things you can do with the Horsemanship Levels — all of which we've done with our own program!
Starting with Red Level gives your students a strong foundation for safe progress.
Students must demonstrate proficiency before moving up to more advanced skills. Their goals are clearly outlined in the curriculum, which helps students stay motivated.
Students in private lessons are rewarding to teach because they tend to focus exclusively on accomplishment and progress. Give these students a clear path to follow and watch them accelerate!
Group lessons create bonds between students. When students encourage and motivate each other so the whole class can Level Up together, it simplifies lesson planning and stablizes your income.
Rainbow Level lets you start your youngest students with short, age-appropriate introductory lessons. When these students are ready to move up to Red Level, they tend to progress quickly.
The Rainbow curriculum can help parents understand skills that must be mastered before their child is ready for full regular lessons — especially important for children with short attention spans!
Adults tend to appreciate a structured "safety-first" approach to lessons, especially if they've never ridden before.
You may also have adult students with previous experience who want to fill some holes in their riding education with a comprehensive program.
Learning Levels can help non-horsey parents understand why their beginner needs a safe foundation before she is taught to canter — let alone jump or barrel race!
It helps students and parents see just how much there is to learn about horses and riding. They'll see that there are meaningful goals here — and there's a lot more to the horsey thing than shows and ribbons.
You can add new students with previous riding experience to your Levels program with a clear assessment of their knowledge and ability.
Students should demonstrate every objective to your satisfaction as you take them through the Levels curriculum checklist to check for holes in their knowledge or skills.
One benefit of the Levels curriculum is that it objectively identifies students' abilities. We let the Levels communicate our student participation policies:
e.g., "You must have a Yellow Level or higher ribbon to attend your first schooling show."
"This camp is for Blue and Orange Level riders."
"No Rainbow Level students allowed in the barn without supervision!", etc.
Students in your Levels program will be engaged and committed to learning, which makes life easier for you and for your hardworking lesson string.
Add in social events and you will eventually have a solid group of families who are more than just clients. In our case, the Levels program helped us create a barn family of EXCEPTIONAL students — many of whom are now teaching Levels programs of their own!
Campers return again and again when you use the Levels Curriculum to teach them progressive riding skills along with lots of fun crafts and horsey educational games.
Boost your students' progress — and your bottom line — with one-day Level Up Clinics that are designed to move students closer to their next goals, and let students show off their skills during in-house events.
Find more inspiration in these Boss Mares blog posts.
Learn about our Horsemanship lesson plans.