This is a “try before you buy” kind of orientation, to prepare you before you actually get a horse of your own. So you’ll have a willing classmate, you can even lease one of my own horses to help you learn and practice as you go.

The order and other aspects may vary according to the students age, ability, and motor skills. General information about horses is incorporated into each lesson, including topics like the body of the horse, horse terminology, and fun facts. Information is presented according to age, so some modification may be necessary, requiring a different order than what is suggested below.

Additional topics included in the package cover information parents need as well, like what to look for when buying a first horse. Also, pasture management, toxic plants, choosing good quality hay, how to recognize a serious problem such as colic or founder, when to vaccinate, what to vaccinate for, and regularly administering paste wormer. When possible, we allow you to observe the farrier trim a horse’s hooves (you’ll learn a lot from him).

Horsemanship sessions cost $35 per lesson/hour, using your horse or mine.

Advanced riding lessons are also available from Katie Cumberford at my facility.

First-time Horse Owner Program

This outline is a general guide only, to give you an idea of the kind of information covered in these lessons.
Some lesson skills may take longer to master than others, so instruction topics and practice may span 2-3 sessions before the student is comfortable.


Lesson 1: Safety

How Horses See

Prey vs. Predator

How to Approach

How to Pet

How to Walk Behind

Observation lesson: Demonstration of personal space while instructor feeds.

Hands-on: Student approaches, pet and walks around horse.


Lesson 2: Horse Nature

Pecking order – Alpha horse

Flight Response – spook

Body language for horses

Body language for humans

Observation lesson: Feeding; How horses communicate: which horse is Alpha? How they read human body language.

Hands-on: Student approaches, pets, walks around horse, observing horse’s body language for safety.


Lesson 3: Feeding

How to feed

What to feed – quality of hay, grain

What not to feed

Hands-on: Student approaches, pets, observes behavior, does feeding using body language to maintain personal space for safety.


Lesson 4: Grooming


How to Groom, why

Pests: Flies, gnats, ticks, mosquitoes

Fly spray

Observation lesson: Making homemade fly spray, spraying the horse.

Hands-on: Student approaches, pets, observes behavior, feeds and grooms horse.


Lesson 5: Tack

Halter, lead rope, bridle, bits, blankets, saddle

Tacking up

Caring for Tack – Storing, cleaning

Hands-on: Yielding to light pressure, leading safely. Horse lowers head for haltering, leads and stops easily. Troubleshooting what to do if your horse passes you, or walks too closely.


Lesson 6: Cues

Asking the horse to move over, back up, come forward.

How to Tie: Correct height, correct knot

Observation lesson: tying properly

Hands-on: Student halters horse, ties and unties quick release knot, asks horse to lead, ‘whoa’, move over, back up, come forward.


Lesson 7: Hoof Care

How to pick up feet

Clean Hooves

Observation lesson: Picking up back feet, the different Gaits.

Hands-on: Student Handlers, leads horse, ties, and asks horse to lift front foot only.


Lesson 8: Tack

How a bit, bridle and hackamore work

Parts of a saddle

Observation lesson: Tacking up

Hands-on: Grooming, saddling, binding


Lesson 9: Gaits

Observation lessons: Watch instructor saddle, girth, and demonstrate gaits by either riding or lunging the horse.


Lesson 10: First Ride

Hands-on: Review Grooming, handling, leading, tying, cleaning front feet.

Mounting: Student halters horse, mounts, and walks as passenger. Student learns rein and leg pressure, and how to change direction. May proceed to next gait when comfortable. (The horse is outfitted with halter, lead rope and bridle, so the student can learn to rein the horse, while I have control on a line.)


Lesson 11: Second Ride

Tacking up – Parent helps if necessary

Walk, trot, and canter when ready

Hands-on: Have 2nd riding session at the trot, and canter when ready.


Lesson 12: Third Riding Lesson

By this time the student should be able to halter, groom, and tack up the horse, mount and ask the horse to walk, trot, or canter. (Facilities limit the riding lessons to lead rope for safety purposes.)