Teach the Horsemanship Levels


The Learning Levels curriculum is designed for students of English riding. 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, and riding cross-country.

HOWEVER – 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 fences, 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 English riding.
  • Experienced students who wish to fill gaps in their mounted education.
  • Very young students not yet ready for full mounted lessons.
  • Students who are uninterested or unable to show but still need goals and achievement.
  • Students in a camp program.

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.

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.

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.

Use these quick links or scroll down for some inspiration:

Here are a just a few of the things you can do with the Horsemanship Levels:

Teach beginners

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 to keep them motivated.

Red Level is all about safety and terminology. It gives students the vocabulary to learn more – and it instills an invaluable understanding and respect for horses.

Teach experienced students

You can add new students with previous 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. When you identify the gaps in their skills and knowledge and establish their base Level, it helps everyone start out on the same page.

Teach Groups

Smart instructors encourage a fun, supportive atmosphere in lesson groups because it helps build student friendships. 

Those friendships create bonds between students; those students become fully invested in your program.

And when those invested students encourage and motivate each other to stay on track so that the whole class can Level Up together – it makes your lesson planning much easier!

Add Enrichment

Boost your students’ progress – and your bottom line – with Power Up and Level Up clinics that are designed to move students closer to their next goals.

Level Up Clinics are one-day group experiences, with both riding lessons and unmounted learning activities. You can structure them in numerous ways and at different times of the year. Themed clinics are always popular!

Power Up camps are VERY POPULAR personalized all-day clinics for just one student.

Create Epic CAMP Experiences

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.

Improve retention

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!

Teach adults

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. The Levels Study Guides are ideal tools to help them identify weak areas and shore them up with detailed information.

The best thing about teaching adults, however, is that you create AMAZING bonds when your adult students ride together and learn more about horses as a group. In our experience, those friendships are forever. 

Teach Private Lessons

Students in private lessons are rewarding to teach because they tend to focus exclusively on accomplishment and progress.

Since the instructor provides all the “social” interaction,  it’s important for you to keep private lessons fresh and fun with a variety of teaching tools.

We enjoy giving these students a clear path to follow and watching them accelerate!

Teach young children

Rainbow Level lets you start your youngest students with short, age-appropriate introductory lessons, typically 15-30 minutes per week.

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!

When these students are ready to move up to Red Level, they tend to progress quickly. Red Level will repeat most of the Rainbow objectives and will give young students confidence in their skills.

USE Levels as criteria

One big benefit of the Levels curriculum is that it objectively identifies students’ abilities.

We let the Levels clearly communicate our requirements for show team or camp participation, horse leasing, and barn and arena rules:

e.g., “You must have a Yellow Level or higher ribbon to attend your first Horse Trial.”

“This camp is for Blue and Orange Level riders.”

“No Rainbow Level students allowed in the barn without supervision!”, etc.

Save valuable time

Keeping track of students’ progress is a snap when you use our Achievement Tools – progress trackers and certificates or ribbons – with the Levels Curriculum.

We all have better things to do with our time!


Learning Levels can help that non-horsey mom understand why her beginner needs a safe foundation before he is taught to canter – let alone jump!

It helps students and parents see just how much there is to learn about horses and riding.

Your favorite parents will understand that safety comes first. They’ll see that there are meaningful goals here – and there’s a lot more to the horsey thing than shows and ribbons!

You want students and parents to appreciate all the hard work and education that goes into earning those ribbons: that’s why you teach, right?

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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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