Teach the HorseCentered Levels
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THE NEW GROUND TRAINING CURRICULUM
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This groundwork-based curriculum encourages students to deepen their understanding of equine behavior and communication, developing practical ground handling and training skills that can be applied using the training philosophy of your choice.
You can use the HorseCentered Levels independently as the foundation of a new equine program — or you can add them to your existing program to complement your traditional mounted or unmounted lessons.
These Levels are designed to accommodate a variety of different groundwork approaches, with the goal of creating well-rounded trainers who can choose and use methods while prioritizing partnership and the horse’s well-being.
The HorseCentered curriculum consists of three progressive Levels: Pink, White, and Gold. Each Level contains twelve objectives, covering equine behavior and training philosophy as well as hands-on ground handling.
Some HorseCentered concepts and skills may be introduced in a lower Level and then expanded with more detail in a later Level. Although you are welcome to teach objectives in any order that makes sense to you, we recommend that students practice hands-on skills one Level at a time.
This curriculum is appropriate for students with the maturity required to learn basic training theory – typically aged 8 and up. Riding ability is not required, but students must be physically capable of handling a horse on the ground independently.
If your students have minimal horse-handling experience, we strongly recommend covering the ground handling skills from Red HorseSense Level before starting HorseCentered lessons. These skills include basic haltering, leading, tying and grooming, taught alongside important horse safety concepts.
EXPERIENCED HORSE TRAINERS – 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 this curriculum are tasks that you can perform with ease. (If not, educate yourself first!)
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 HorseCentered curriculum – along with lesson plans for our LLPro members – will help give you a good starting framework for a new groundwork-based program.
ESTABLISHED INSTRUCTORS – If you’re looking for a system to diversify and expand your program – or emphasize that the horse/human relationship extends far beyond the saddle – the HorseCentered 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 and suitable for the skill being taught.
The emphasis on training and problem-solving means that horses don’t necessarily need previous experience with each activity. However, they must be sound, quiet and forgiving enough for students to practice safely. Aggressive or dangerously reactive horses need not apply!
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Searching for inspiration?
Discover some of the things you can do with the HorseCentered Levels — all of which we've done with our own program.
Riding lesson horses have a difficult, often unrewarding job. Revitalize your lesson string by adding unmounted HorseCentered lessons designed to engage horses' playfulness. Your school horses will be stimulated mentally and physically, in new ways, making it easier for them to genuinely enjoy their work and avoid burnout.
Ground training lessons are particularly rewarding for elderly or physically limited horses that are no longer suitable for mounted lessons.
Encourage your students to become the kind of equestrians who always put the horse's welfare first. HorseCentered lessons can help them learn equine behavior theory, practice training skills, and plan equine activities with consideration for the horse's experience.
It doesn't take long for students to discover that creating meaningful partnerships with their horses makes them more effective riders... and that there's much more to the partnership than riding!
Maintaining consistent mounted lesson schedules can be a juggling act! For days when the weather doesn't allow safe riding, substitute HorseCentered lessons in the barn. You can also offer dedicated groundwork sessions for students who need a make-up lesson, which helps keep your lesson schedule intact.
Need to increase your cash flow without adding to your horses' concussive workload? Find lesson slots to add ground training classes for small groups of non-riding students.
Your equine vet, farrier, bodyworkers and saddle-fitter will thank you for making their jobs easier! Ground training that prepares horses for health and hoof care procedures can help make the whole process safer and less traumatic for everyone.
Consider offering classes in cooperative care training to students, boarders, and your local equine community. Not only could this be a lucrative income stream, it's also an invaluable service that your equine professionals would happily recommend.
Ground training lessons work with all kinds of students and lesson settings. Teach them as regular classes, or in courses designed to achieve each Level. You can teach with your school horses, allow students to trailer in their own horses, or set up a visiting lesson program at local facilities.
You can also combine HorseCentered lessons with your current Horsemanship or HorseSense programs. Consider adding dedicated training time before or after riding regular mounted lessons, or replace one mounted lesson per month with a groundwork lesson.
Ground Games camps are a great way to get students together to focus on equine behavior and training — with all the benefits of a fun social experience.
We schedule groundwork camps during the months when riding weather is unpredictable, which helps students and horses stay connected.
HorseCentered clinics are popular year-round. Weekend or one-day ground training clinics can also be a great way to reach folks who can't commit to regular lessons.
Ground training lessons allow you to open your programming to horsey people across all equine disciplines, no matter which tack they prefer.
You can also reach inexperienced people of all ages who might not be interested in riding or keeping horses, but would enjoy learning how to interact with horses. Market these lessons or clinics to senior citizens, homeschoolers and "Mom's Day Out" groups.
Are you offering or considering an equine therapy program? The HorseCentered curriculum has been integrated with many different instructional approaches — all of which benefit horses and humans!