Safety- This level focuses on being safe around the horses and learning basic riding and grooming skills. A bit of trotting is also introduced.
Arena- In this level, we practice walking patterns, being in rhythm with the horse, and gaining good control. Some lessons are ridden bareback. Riders learn to ask their own horses to trot.
Trail- This level assumes you have enough control of your horse to go out on a trail ride. While trail rides are not currently offered in our program, riders will work on more difficult riding skills. Riding the trot is improved and refined, and a bit of cantering is introduced.
Meadow- Meadow level riders will strengthen their trotting and cantering skills. They will also build on their ability to ride softly, with improved balance and better communication.
Sunset- Students at this level will continue to practice skills at all the gaits. Trotting through patterns on the correct diagonal is expected, and simple lead changes are introduced. At this level, riders work on becoming more self-directed. Ground lessons are also practiced, which helps students to learn how to train horses.
Horsemanship- Riders will work on walking without reins, trotting over small obstacles, and cantering through patterns with flying lead changes. Students also have a chance to either teach a horse or to begin student teaching in Safety lessons.
Here at Bridle Ranch, safety is our first priority. To ensure this, we do require all participants to wear long pants, close-toed shoes, and helmets when working with the horses. We have helmets of various sizes that can be borrowed, but we recommend purchasing your own SEI or ASTM certified horse helmet.
We will work throughout the year, both in the heat of summer and the dead of winter. Please dress accordingly. Long pants and close-toed shoes are required year-round. In winter, we recommend coats, gloves, hats, and boots. In summer, we recommend sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats, and water bottles.
2. Ground work
In order to keep the horses healthy, we plan to do a ground lesson for one out of four riding lessons. Bad weather and/or our horses moods may dictate when we do a ground lesson, and possibly more than once a month. We do strive to ride at least 3 of every four weeks. Ground lessons are just as much fun as riding. We watch videos, do age-appropriate horse-related activities, and learn information that is essential for any equestrian. As in all lessons, ground lessons are geared toward helping students master their current level and strive for the next level in the Bridle Ranch program.
We provide horses, tack, and a riding space. We also have a few helmets that are available to rent. We recommend purchasing your own helmet, and can provide recommendations of where to obtain them. Bike helmets are not equivalent to horse helmets. For your safety, boots are required from Trail level on.
4. Level Tests
In the level test, you will be required to demonstrate each of the level skills with minimal prompting from the instructor. Level tests will typically be one hour long.
5. Pasture Safety
For the safety of the students, horses, and instructors we ask that anyone staying to watch a lesson remain outside the pasture. We have chairs for your convenience and you are more than welcome to take pictures. We also ask that you not try to teach or instruct the student.
If students ever need to cancel their lesson we would like at least 24 hours notice. We'll mark it in our schedule and see you the following week, no questions asked. We understand emergencies happen; if something come up the day of your lesson, so long as you stay in touch and let us know what's going on we will cancel your lesson and won't charge you for it. If we were expecting you and don't hear from you, we will charge you for that lesson. During the winter there might be some more ground lessons than usual, please remember that these lessons are a part of how we teach at Bridle Ranch. If you are calling to check if you're having a ground lesson, find out you are, and then cancel because of it, we will charge you for that lesson.
Riding and playing with horses is incomparable. It takes a lot of work and discipline, but our goal at Bridle Ranch is to help you achieve high skill levels both in riding and groundwork, and to have a lot of fun in the journey. If ever you have questions, concerns, ideas, or comments, please let us know!
Smile and Ride!
Bridle Ranch has six different levels of ability. Each level is priced differently, with the goal that students only pay for the skills at their riding level, rather than the more advanced skills of the instructor. We require every student, regardless of previous riding ability, to begin at Safety Level and move through the levels as they show mastery of each level's skills. There is no set time for each level; students will progress at their pace and at the discretion of their teacher.