Plus! classes are often non-riding classes. These classes are meant to supplement riding lessons, or offer special activities not normally offered in our standard lesson classes or programs.
Halter Show Team
2010 was our first year taking the non-horse-owning youth students to local shows. The focus was not on chasing prizes, but using 3 specific non-riding show classes (showmanship, obstacle course, sport horse) as a motivator for taking an interest in ground work. Going out with the ponies/horses into a large social gathering away from our farm gave the students some food-for-thought as to why ground work is important (controlling your horse in unpredictable environments, sportsmanship, being aware and courteous around other horse-people and other horses, seeing how ‘other people’ do things). It is just another activity we want to provide so that students can grow more comfortable and more skilled around our equine companions.
Typically we hold ground work / show team practice sessions twice or three times a month. We work on the actual pattern requirements of each class, but we also work on the idea of desensitizing horses to strange things, being aware that horse can be unpredictable, and learning the concepts of actually ‘training’ a horse new things.
Cost: $5.00 / 1 hour
Riders’ Academy Clinics
This year we started a new, occasional, clinic type lesson for the Riders’ Academy level students. The idea is we present 1 concept about riding and let the participating students experience this concept with each of our lesson horses in the session. We want the students to understand that we start by following established acceptable methods or theories (for doing ‘X’) and then have to be willing to adjust for each horse in each situation. During this clinic format we encourage group discussion, use a white board or other visual media to help students understand the concept. This format also encourages riders to observe one another.
Cost: Riders’ Academy standard group fee
Vet & Farrier Experiences
Two or three times a year our Vet and Farrier are gracious enough to come out (often after hours) and prepare a short program while giving services to the horses out here, for our students to participate in. For example our vet came out, sedated a horse that needed dental work and with a mouth speculum in place allowed the students to actually place their hands into the horse’s mouth to feel what dental work needed to be done. Our Farrier came out with a cadaver horse leg to explain the structure of the hoof, while he trimmed and put shoes on one of the lesson horses.
Cost: Typically the cost of our ‘Intro’ program sessions.
We started this program in late 2010 for those students with ample skills (a combination of skills and age/maturity) to come out and just spend time at the barn doing grooming and their own ground work with one of the lesson ponies/horses. Typically students who earn this privilege are those who do the Halter Team / Ground Work sessions, and are well into the Pony School or Riders’ Academy programs. While farm management is at the farm, this is a low supervisory situation students must be able to manage themselves and the ponies safely and with maturity. Typically students are welcome out for this with advance notice any time the instructor is giving lessons. Younger / smaller children in Pony School are welcome with parental participation in our Halter/Ground Work classes.
Equestrian Achievement Badges / Testing
Starting in the fall of 2011 our three youth programs (Intro, Pony School, Riders’ Academy) will be changing to a badge based program. Our motivation for this change is two fold; 1. students will be motivated to track their progression 2. it holds our program accountable for providing sound education (ideally we’d like the testing / award of a badge to be done by an outside person so there is no chance of bias).
While we are still developing the actual badges, we have the basics of all three ‘Levels’ outlined, and are working on the method for testing, and thus giving, badges to students. We envision the levels to start very gradually, for example an Intro student may earn a badge for the basic grooming routine with assistance, and then advance accordingly. At this time we will be focused on the Level 1 achievements and will move on from there.
This badge/testing program will cover the essential basics in;
- Daily horse grooming
- Basic daily & monthly horse care
- Basic tack & equipment for riding and daily handling of horses
- Basic safe ground handling of trained horses / ponies in average situations
- Basic barn etiquette including safety
- Basic horse psychology
- Basic riding (through walk/trot at this time)
We estimate testings will probably be scheduled and organized 4 times a year and would probably take place during a barn community gathering (like a cook out).
Cost: actual testing day, paying an examiner, not known at this time but as reasonable as possible