Teach the HorseSense Levels
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THE UNMOUNTED CURRICULUM
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HorseSense simply encompasses all of the unmounted skills and knowledge required to safely understand, train, stable and care for horses.
NOTE: Prior to 2017, we called this the horsekeeping curriculum.
We want students to …
… learn safe practices in the barn, developing 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
- 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 horses may not require extensive training to be used for unmounted lessons, they must be safe to handle and interact with on the ground.
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Searching for inspiration?
Discover some of the things you can do with the HorseSense Levels — all of which we've done with our own program.
HorseSense instruction can occur in formal classroom courses, regular unmounted group lessons, or as substitutes for mounted lessons in the event of a lame horse or inclement weather.
You can teach the objectives by Level or by Topic, using HorseSense Teaching Guides to plan lessons. Then add study guides and challenges for fun learning experiences and assessments.
Level Up Clinics are group learning experiences covering several HorseSense lessons. Clinics encourage students to study and get objectives checked off — and to form bonds with other students. You can structure these flexible clinics in numerous ways.
Intro clinics about specific topics (eg, bandaging, hoof care, equine first aid, etc.) are always popular, and could be opened to visitors as well as regular students. Intro to Horses clinics are a great income-boosting marketing tool!
Supplement summer camp riding lessons with educational unmounted lessons and games that are designed to give students a sense of accomplishment in a fun social environment.
You can also use HorseSense materials to create popular specialty camps constructed around a theme (e.g., trail riding, eventing, mother-daughter, intro to horse ownership, etc.).
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 (e.g.,> Yellow or Green). This can be done through self-study or organized classes and clinics. Whatever their previous experience, you'll be more confident in everyone's safety if they're required to prove their knowledge!
Involving parents in a HorseSense program pays dividends: knowledgeable parents are not only more likely to invest in their child's horsey activites, but quite often they become students themselves. And if those parents are going to buy horses, you need them to understand the realities of horse care before the purchase!
If you offer board, you can include unmounted lessons as part of your package. This encourages boarders trust your program, and helps them make sound decisions about their horses' health and maintenance. Photo courtesy Erik Cardenas at TROTR.org
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 most important participants in your lesson program are quite often the ones who suffer most from well meaning but uneducated humans. Horses deserve students who can handle them on the ground with tact and confidence; who can identify and correct all the sources of a horse's discomfort or pain; and who know how to keep the environment safe and the herd free from stress.
As we always tell our students, the more they know, the happier and healthier their horses will be!
HorseSense lessons are an invaluable way to increase your income without overtaxing your horses. No matter how you structure them, they help prospective students see exactly what they're getting for their money, and to appreciate the value of that education.
Students who become invested in your program will then provide you with years of income — and confirm that what you do matters!