How to Adapt the Learning Levels for Your Facility
But K had dreams, and dedication, and determination to do everything she could to ride well in spite of her circumstances.
I had to figure out how to help her
I think of those years a lot now in my new life as a freelance instructor. Taking HorseSense Riding Academy on the road has opened many doors, but it’s required me to adapt how I teach the Learning Levels.
Many of my students now lease project horses in need of training or conditioning. Others have horses at home where they are learning lessons about diet, stable management and soundness the hard way. Some have arenas, while others have boggy fields or muddy round pens. One poor kid spent six months working on a hillside with her spooky new Thoroughbred!
Fewer than half have trailers.
If you are an instructor getting started with Learning Levels, you might face similar challenges.
How can you teach Intro dressage and ground pole courses when all you have is a round pen 60’ in diameter? How will your students learn to ride cross-country when the nearest course is two hours away?
There’s a great quote by John Lyons:
We think that with a little creativity, you can use the Horsemanship Levels anywhere you can ride – and your students may be all the better for it!
Here are a few suggestions for making Levels work with your facility, based on our own experience:
There’s a happy ending to K’s story, by the way
The mare turned out to be an extraordinarily generous partner, against all odds, and stayed fit enough in her hilly pastures that K was able to carefully bring her up to USEA Novice Level.
K alternated between lessons at home and lessons on more veteran school horses who could show her the ropes. This meant that when the mare devastatingly ended up with COPD, K was able to finish her Teal requirements on a handful of other mounts.
She then rode through college and competed her new OTTB in several recognized events.