Teach the HorseSense Levels

SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THE UNMOUNTED CURRICULUM

HorseSense simply encompasses all of the unmounted skills and knowledge required to safely understand, train, stable and care for horses.

The name of our unmounted curriculum was originally the name our students chose for a Pony Club chapter that our riding school hosted WAY back in the day. Many of those students are now teaching lessons of their own – so it’s also a tribute to them!

 

NOTE: Prior to 2017, we called this the “horsekeeping curriculum“.

We want students to … 

… learn safe practices in the barn, developing a safety-consciousness and an ability to articulate “the reasons for the rules”.

… learn basic equine psychology, allowing them to treat the horse with empathy and consideration.

… confidently perform ground handling and stable management skills.

… acquire enough barn-savvy to be helpful as a working student or “barn rat”.

… broaden their equine horizons, gaining an appreciation for different disciplines and philosophies.

… understand that an equestrian’s education is never finished, and that a good equestrian commits to a lifetime of active learning.

Students work to master specific skills and knowledge in each of the levels, and receive recognition for completion when they are able to consistently demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skills to their instructor.

In many cases, achievement of one level is a prerequisite for learning more advanced skills. However, instructors have more flexibility with the unmounted objectives, and can re-arrange or combine objectives to suit the circumstances.

  • 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 unmounted education
  • students who are uninterested or unable to ride, but still want to interact with horses
  • students in a camp program
  • students who want help with barn chores in a volunteer or working student role
  • students who would like to pursue an unmounted equine career (grooms, health care, etc.)
  • parents and students who are considering leasing or purchasing a horse

EXPERIENCED HORSEKEEPERS– If you’ve owned or worked with horses for a number of years, you’ve probably learned – and taught – most of the essential information that keeps horses safe and happy. We just give you the words, the teaching tools, and the structure to teach it efficiently and thoroughly.

ESTABLISHED INSTRUCTORS – If you’re looking for a way to add unmounted instruction to your existing lesson program, you probably don’t have the time to create all of it from scratch. Use the parts of the HorseSense curriculum that work for you; easily modify the rest to suit your needs.

If you don’t have the time in your schedule to teach unmounted lessons, you can simply provide your students with Learning Levels materials and encourage them to learn on their own – thereby creating better mounted students!

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 HorseSense Levels:

Teach courses or Classes

You undoubtedly have all the knowledge you need to teach unmounted horse care lessons.

What you probably don’t have in abundance is the TIME required to develop a curriculum and teaching tools.

But you can take advantage of the years we spent developing an unmounted program, and easily adapt it to work for your situation.

Use our framework and supplemental materials to teach a full course with study guides as text books and challenges for assessments. Structure it any way that works best for you, teaching the objectives by Level or by Topic.

Create BETTER RIDING STUDENTS

We’ve sold Levels materials to numerous instructors who were looking for ways to create more knowledgeable students.

Students who have a strong unmounted education are  interested in the horse’s welfare. They’re less likely to see their mount as a vehicle and more likely to see their lesson horse as a partner.

They need less supervision in the barn before and after lessons. They’ll take better care of your horses and your tack. If something dangerous occurs, they’ll be better prepared to handle it – and optimally, to prevent it.

The HorseSense curriculum makes it easy to deliver the information you want students to have – and to find out how much they really know.

Create Epic CAMP Experiences

Create memorable day camp experiences with riding lessons, horsey crafts and educational games  – all designed to give students a sense of accomplishment in a fun social environment.

Use summer camps to help your regular students power through the Learning Levels curriculum. You can divide up campers by Level (e.g., a Rainbow camp, a Red-Yellow camp, a Green-Blue camp, etc.) and design activities that support those objectives.

You can also use HorseSense materials to create mini-camps or one-day clinics.

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! The goal for these clinics is to help students get at least one objective checked off in their Progress Booklets.

A notable side-benefit of Level Up clinics is that they provide structured social opportunities for horsey kids (or adults!) to make new friendships.

Power Up camps are VERY POPULAR personalized all-day clinics for just one student. We offer them with two private mounted lessons and two or three unmounted HorseSense lessons; the whole clinic is designed to meet customized goals and check off objectives in the student’s Progress Booklet.

give students self-study tools

You can help students come prepared for lessons and clinics when you give them the right educational tools.

When you don’t have time to teach them every single detail, it helps to have those written details in a format that students can read at their own pace and convenience.

LLPro members can provide their students with copies of the Learning Levels Study Guides – and any other learning materials from the Resource Library – with our blessing.

You can provide them with printed copies or with PDF files they can open in any browser.

We hope you will encourage students to become life-long learners of all things equine.

Teach ADULTS

Offering unmounted HorseSense classes or clinics for adults is an excellent way to add to your income stream without taxing your lesson horses.

Target groups in your community who might not be able to commit to riding lessons, but would enjoy an unmounted educational experience – this includes seniors, homeschoolers, scouting organizations and special needs services.

Involving your students’ parents in a HorseSense program pays dividends, too. Educated parents are not only more likely to invest in their child’s horsey education, but quite often they become students themselves.

If those parents are going to buy horses, you want them knowledgeable. If they’re going to keep horses at home, you NEED them to be well educated!

Teach children

Students who aren’t physically or cognitively mature enough for riding lessons can still start learning about horses and English riding using the Rainbow Level Coloring Book.

This “study guide” for Rainbow Level introduces both mounted and unmounted topics with simple language and full-page black-and-white pictures suitable for coloring. (All of our guides are illustrated by one of our favorite adult students, Rhonda Hagy.)

By the time these students are ready for riding lessons – when their feet reach past the saddle flaps! – you’ll find that they progress quickly.

You may also have students in Red and Yellow levels who enjoy coloring select pages from this guide.

Teach Private Lessons

Private lesson students can learn HorseSense before, during, or after their riding lessons if you keep things simple. For example, students can identify pony parts while grooming their horses before tacking up, even if it takes several lessons to find them all.

You can also devote warm-up and cool down time in the arena to teaching or testing any objective that doesn’t require hands-on skills. Giving students a “homework” assignment for a HorseSense objective and testing that knowledge during their next lesson will encourage progression.

Of course, you can always schedule private unmounted lessons. This works particularly well for homeschoolers and adults who can fill your less-insane teaching hours.

Unmounted lessons can also be an excellent plan for those lesson days when weather prevents private students from riding.

create educated volunteers

You may have noticed that uneducated helpers in your barn are WAY more trouble than they’re worth!

Even established student helpers may require close supervision if they’re involved in caring for your horses.

You can maximize your risk management – and minimize your unpaid supervisory time – by requiring volunteers to pass a prescribed HorseSense Level (eg, Yellow or Green). This can be done through self-study or organized classes and clinics; however they attain the knowledge, you’ll be more confident in everyone’s safety if they’re required to prove it!

And you’ll have a more reliable network of capable helpers when you need them.

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!

make your horses happier

The most important participants in your lesson program are quite often the ones who suffer most from ignorant humans.

Your students can make their mounts happier with their jobs by learning how horses think and why they respond differently than we do. Your horses want students who can handle horses on the ground with tact and confidence; who can identify and correct all the sources of a horse’s discomfort or pain; who know how to keep the environment safe and the herd free from stress.

At the very least, your horses want students to learn how to make it easier – not harder – for horses to do their jobs!

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*So, about the HorseSense thing

From 2004-2017 we called our unmounted track the “Horsekeeping Curriculum”. In 2018 we changed the name to “HorseSense​ Curriculum” because we discovered that Cherry Hill, author of many of our favorite equine reference books, has trademarked the term “horsekeeping”.

And, well, we want EVERYONE to learn more about horses – not just those who plan to “keep” a horse!

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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