Natural Horsemanship Lessons
Outten Ridin’ Ranch (ORR) is offering limited group and private natural horsemanship lessons, annually from October – March on a bimonthly basis. In the Summer, ORR adds regularly scheduled weekly lesson options to weekday evenings and scheduled camps on several weekends. Summer Camp agendas are posted in May at which time we begin taking registrations.
About our lessons
At ORR, we focus on Natural Horsemanship, an excellent base for all other disciplines, whether it be trails, dressage, reining, or barrel racing. Core concepts include teachings on pressure and release, feel and timing, and making the right thing easy for the horse. Equitation and balance of the rider are other key focuses of our lessons. 'Equitation' or 'proper riding posture' is not just about looks! It is based on physics and has a huge impact on the safety and effectiveness of any rider. Something as simple as holding the reins incorrectly can throw the rest of your body out of position and hinder your riding. Learning equitation and proper balance in motion will open a world of possibilities for a rider.
Our Approach: Mounted vs. Unmounted
Curriculum and lesson plans
Lessons use a progression of Natural Horsemanship Skills. A detailed lesson plan/goals for each level are provided once a student enrolls. The introductory level for young riders aged 4 through 7, who are not yet able to ride and care for a pony independently, always practice their skills with the supervision and assistance of an instructor and a horse handler. Students are provided study guides and achievements in horsemanship are tracked in Progress Booklets and chart students’ progress. Videos and pictures, providing a glimpse of skills being practiced, are sent to students/parents.
Mounted vs. Unmounted Lessons:
Lessons include both mounted and unmounted curriculum. The relationship with the horse, how to communicate, and becoming a team are primary building blocks. Students should understand that lessons are not 100% in the saddle. Groundwork, Horse Care, Horse Sense, and other “unmounted” base knowledge are important parts of lessons. The Horse Care and Horse Sense components of lessons focus on the knowledge needed to care for and work with horses successfully, testing students on things such as veterinary and stable management skills. Groundwork includes understanding equine behavior, a horse’s communication and body language, yielding, targeting, and directing the horse’s movement, and prioritizing a relationship with the horse. During times of inclement weather, unmounted lessons may be held in the barn.
All skills must be demonstrated to progress to the next level, with the student maintaining a safe, basic balanced position: heels down, eyes up, quiet hands, and a line running from the head through the shoulder and hip to the heel. Students are awarded ribbons and certificates of completion when they demonstrate skills at each level. Parents are invited to a demonstration of their child’s skills in each ribbon ceremony.
Children do best at gaining equine skills with repetition and consistent exposure. It generally takes 2 years to develop enough competence to learn all the basics of horse care and be able to ride on your own (e.g. catch, tie, lead, tack up, ride, go down the trail). Each student progresses at their own rate and natural talent, age and number of hours in the saddle impact progression rates. The more you ride the better you get.
High level milestones for students each year include:
During the first-year students learn all about safety and balance - they will learn how to halter, tie, lead, groom, tack, and ride. This does not mean they will master these skills in the first year, but students should at least be able to understand the previously mentioned terms. In the first year, students should be able to walk and trot, ride basic patterns and begin canter work.
During the second year, students should be refining the walk, trot, and canter, and ride more difficult patterns with increasing accuracy. They may learn how to ride a horse in collection or in the bridle. At this point, it is recommended that students increase exposure and education by joining a pony club, or 4H, or attending a camp, horse show, or clinic. We will provide opportunities we are aware of along the way.
During the third year of lessons, students should be at a point to safely ride independently. However the best of riders know the importance of learning for life and ongoing lessons and attending clinics to hone in more advanced skills or specifics to a discipline (e.g. English Pleasure, Hunter Jumper, Saddle Seat, Dressage, Reining, Barrel Racing etc) are recommended. When a rider is competent to ride and care for a horse independently, I recommend leasing before buying. Leasing a horse is a great way to increase saddle time without taking on the commitment or expense of owning. Leasing also allows you the experience of caring for a horse fully, a great way to figure out if you are ready for a horse of your own.
Learning for Life
We encourage parents and students to understand that learning how to master the skills to be a proficient and safe rider takes practice. LOTS of practice. A good rider knows that learning and practicing new skills never ends. As a student, no matter your level of experience, you will have good lesson days, GREAT lesson days, and days where it seems like nothing will jive between you, your horse, and the whole world. Learning to become a safe, proficient rider requires time, lots of practice, and patience as you build your basics. We will always encourage students and the horse to relax, have fun and be safe.
Group Lessons are $50 per lesson and are kept to no more than four students at a time. Reduced class size allows as much individualized attention as possible, while offering a more affordable rate. Instruction is provided to the group and students continue to practice while rotating to direct one-on-one time with the instructor for feedback on the skill. Students do not get undivided individual time for the entire lesson. For those who want undivided attention during a lesson, a Private Lesson is recommended.
Private Lessons are $75 per lesson.
- Payment in full is required at the beginning of each month.
- Cancellations with a 24-hour notice will be credited for future lessons and must be completed within two months or fees are forfeited.
- Alaskan weather can be unpredictable. On days below ten degrees or days when it has snowed a tremendous amount, we will aim to not cancel lessons but rather to choose the lesson material and activities accordingly, including unmounted curriculum inside the barn.
- If ORR needs to cancel a scheduled lesson, make-up session options are offered.
- Alaskan weather can be unpredictable. On days below ten degrees or days when it has snowed a tremendous amount, we will aim to not cancel lessons but rather to choose the material and activities accordingly, including unmounted curriculum inside the barn.
- ORR reserves the right to cancel a lesson if a student is struggling to be in the proper mindset for a productive, healthy lesson.
- “Grab-A-Lesson” options are sometimes made available to students on our current wait list. This option provides one or two lessons while students wait for space to come available on the regular lesson schedule.
We fill our classes from our waitlist. If you would like to sign up on our waitlist, please click below.
You may also download our application.