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Welcome to the Equestrian Outreach Organization (EOO) Rider Instruction Lesson Plan Page

EO Free Riding Program Art(For reasons of safety and education, Equestrian Outreach supports classic riding (Dressage / English) principles as the basis of any beginning instruction and or training program. Our program is *free* to all who wish to learn the principles of Classic Riding. We rely on our vendors listed within this site as well as corporations and individuals.

(Interested In Our Program? Please DownLoad Equestrian Outreach Student Riding Program Signup Forms - Please print fill out and bring - (Required)

(Have More Questions? Please Contact Equestrian Outreach for Additional Information About Lessons,or Other Questions)

Want to know when EOO Holds Free Classic Riding Lessons? As of April 2017 Lessons are being held at our new riding venue located at 235 South Lakeview Drive, Lake Helen, FL. Lesson days and times: Fridays After 3:00 PM (By appointment 24 hours prior). Saturdays 9AM and Sundays 9AM. Please note that lesson locations and times may vary, please click here to EMAIL EOO your contact information and please contact (Phone call or phone message) EOO the day you are planning to attend. In this way we can better plan lessons and avoid delays. Please Note that EOO riding forms are now required for ALL who attend EOO riding lessons.


How can EOO afford to fund our free rescue and riding program? Here is some information about EOO's *Free* Classic Riding Program Sponsorship and Paid Advertising OverviewVendor Listing Support Button

Who Pays for the Equestrian Outreach Free Classic Riding Programs?: Equestrian Outreach is a community based program. Working to use the power of classic equestrianism to help improve horses,horse people and horse communities. We use the magic of horses to help disabled people, at risk kids and at risk horses. (Click here for detailed information about our programs) Our funding comes from the kindness and compassion of the interested people and businesses who are listed and involved or who wish to be involved in some or all of what we represent. These types of funding come in two forms:

  1. Program Sponsors: Although our student riding program is free, donations and program sponsors, help us sponsor our equestrian students. You pick the donation amount. Program sponsor’s with donations of $100.00 (US) or more will receive a selected photo of student in lesson, thank you letter, and access to regular progress reports. Business or foundation sponsors also receive promotional consideration.
  2. Vendor Listings : Vendors wishing to benefit from the the remarkable volume of visits to our website pay for their listings which appear on pages related to their service or product. The rates paid by these vendors are made based on their needs, and make up the bulk of our income. Click HereTo Look At Our Vendor Listing Options

(*FREE* Although we do not charge for our program we ask for our students and families who are able and willing to participate in community services which we coordinate)

Introducing Equestrian Outreach Video


Student Rider Instruction (Riding Lessons) Overview

(Basic Classic Equestrian Rider / Horse Goal: Trust - Respect - Engagement)

Much has been said about the marvelous relationship between humans and horses. A topic of controversy and one less discussed is the inter-discipline enmity which exists in the equestrian community. Each equestrian discipline and riding style seems to project a feeling that it is foremost, this attitude is embraced; often at the exclusion of all others. No doubt a certain amount of rivalry is inevitable and even healthy; except when it comes to student instruction. Potential equestrian students are overwhelmed in a blur of lobbying from contrasting equestrian groups each with appealing rationales. The level of confusion caused is both understandable and dangerous. The primary focus of this web site is to provide an objective source of fundamental equestrian related information with an emphasis on safety for both equestrian students and the horses they love. The point of this focus is to provide clear, concise and objective information. Objective information being a critical educational element in making safe and practical equestrian lifestyle choices.

Student Instruction – Starting Off: As a potential equestrian student or the parent of one there are some questions which should be asked and answered to begin your educational process:Equestrian Outreach Lesson Equipment Example

  1. What is the difference between a riding instructor and a trainer?
  2. Should I take riding lessons?
  3. What is a “riding style and riding discipline?
  4. If I do take riding lessons what discipline is best for me?
  5. Do I need a qualified riding instructor?
  6. Where can I find a qualified riding instructor?
  7. What equipment should I bring to my riding lesson?
  8. If I take basic classic riding (English) instruction what will I learn?

What is the difference between a riding instructor and a trainer? Instructors train people and Trainers train horses. Note - It is very important to make sure that your instructor is qualified and do not assume that if someone is a qualified trainer that they are also a qualified instructor.
Should I Take Riding Lessons? In spite of our love for horses and the apparent love they return, every year people are injured, crippled and sometimes die as a result of equine related accidents. A qualified riding instructor will able to teach you how to safely interact and communicate with horses. (See additional information below)
What is a riding discipline and riding style? A riding discipline is a specific riding form. Arguably there are two distinct riding disciplines English and Western. Within these two riding disciplines are “Riding Styles”; such as classic riding (Dressage) in the English Riding Discipline and its counterpart in the Western Riding Discipline; Reining.
(Click here for additional information about riding disciplines and riding styles)
If I do take lessons which riding discipline is best for me? On this point most equestrians seem to agree. Regardless of the riding discipline and style you choose, classic riding (Dressage) is the original and best equestrian instructional system and should be the proper foundation instruction for of all equestrians regardless of the riding disciplines and styles.

Sympathetic or Natural Methods (Classic, classic riding, classic equestrianism, English or dressage) vs Unnatural Methods

Classic riding instruction often referred to as classic riding (Dressage) was developed over 2,000 years ago as a result of the study of equine behaviors; those of horses in general and those behaviors’ between horses. classic riding (Dressage) uses the tools (aids) learned from those early observations to teach humans how to interact and communicate with horses using modified behaviors referred to as aids or riding aids. An example of the use of ‘aids’; is the rider’s use of leg pressure which elicits a natural or innate response to a request that the horse perform a specific task. Prior to this humans (and even to this day) used methods, some bordering on barbarism to modify the horses natural behavior. Often referred to as “quick fixes” (unlike classic riding (Dressage) which employs methods that are natural to the horse) these methods in effect force the will and needs of humans in an unnatural way. These unnatural methods create behaviors that benefit the human to the detriment of the horse. Today there are many instructors and trainers who promote practices which incorporate words like “natural and centered riding” among others. The simple fact is that the effective parts of these practices are simply traditional classic riding (Dressage) methods with another name. A simple, practical and widely accepted rule of fact in the equestrian community is that there is no single system which is more effective with the interrelationship between humans and horses than classic riding (Dressage) and classic riding (Dressage) should be the foundation training for all disciplines and styles.  (Click here for more information about classic riding (Dressage))
Do I need a qualified riding instructor? The simple answer is yes. Currently there are no regulatory requirements to protect the equestrian community. Although there many capable student riding instructors, there is no way short of “word of mouth” to protect equestrians from the equally large number who are not qualified. Until we are able to develop protective regulation you must be careful in your choices.
Where can I find a qualified riding instructor? Research, knowledge and patience are your allies. Visiting web sites, attending local shows and watching instructors interact with students. Noting how well the students do in competition. Interviewing instructors at shows (when they are not busy). Talking to fellow equestrians all add to you knowledge about suitable riding instructors. (Click here for a list of Trainers, Riding Instructors and Riding Facilities)

Equestrian Outreach Student Lesson Riding Program Requirements

Equestrian Outreach Lesson Clothing ExampleWhat equipment should I bring to my riding lesson?  What the correct type of riding equipment is, as with other elements of equestrianism vary between disciplines as do the opinions about the need for equipment. Since the function of this basic equipment is to protect the student, it our recommendation to a potential equestrian student to be wary of riding instructors who do not require at least this fundamental type of equipment. The accepted basic equipment needed is as follows:

  1. 1. An ASTM & SEI Certified Helmet.(Required equipment, bicycle helmets are fine)
    a. Over 45% of all equestrian injuries are to the riders head.
    b. 85% of head injuries are fatal or crippling.
    c. Many of them could be avoided with a helmet.
    d. It is the law in many states based on the age (18) of the student and should be the law in all states.

    2. Sleeved snug fitting top, preferably with sleeves. (Tee shirts are acceptable, no tube or tank tops please)
    a. Loose or ill fitting clothing poses potential danger around horses.
    b. Collars offer some protection from the sun.

    3. Well fitting gloves. (Not a requirement for beginning students)
    a. Properly fitting gloves help prevent blisters.
    b. They also protect our hands while handling horses.

    4. Long snug fitting breeches or stretch pants, with out a seam on the inside of the leg. (Although long pants are a requirement, expensive breeches are not a requirement for beginning students)
    a. Seams on the inside of the leg cause blisters.
    b. Shorts, blue jeans and bathing suits are not proper attire for riding lessons.
    c. Leggings (Leotards???) are an inexpensive alternative.

    5. Heeled riding boots (Not a requirement for beginning students)
    a. Preferably with sides that rise to the knee.
    b. Knee high boots help prevents blisters as well.
    c. Heels help prevent the foot from sliding too far into the stirrup.
    d. An alternative are paddock boots and half chaps.

    6. Water (Bottled or other type)
                a. Our students work hard, so please bring enough to keep them hydrated for at least two hours.

    7. Sun Block
                a. Our students ride in an open arena.
                b. Florida’s sun can quickly burn skin, even in the winter.

If I take basic classic riding (Dressage) instruction what will I learn? While schooling or training is the physical and mental education of the horse; the purpose of student instruction is to educate the rider on how to safely and effectively communicate with the horse. Properly administered, student instruction promotes a safe and productive interaction between horse and rider through knowledge, observation, ever increasing skill and athleticism and effective communication through the use of aids. Details as follows:

Levels of Classic Student Riding Instruction (Testing Criteria)

There are three standard classifications of required rider control. These levels describe the educational stages of a classic rider's education, they are:

  1. Elementary Level (Level 1 and the primary level of focus for EOO)
  2. Intermediate Level (Level 2 This level is where [when our budget allows] EOO brings in highly qualified riding instructors)
  3. Advanced Level (Level 3)

Elementary Level: The elementary level involves teaching the student a basic understanding of equine responsibilities such as safety, basic equine information and basic communication signals (Riding Aids). Elementary instruction is taught in two segments: 1. On the ground (ground work or in hand work) 2. Backed (on the horse).
Elementary level ground work (Student lessons before mounting while on the ground)and In-Hand (Student lessons before mounting with a horse on a lead rope) objectives:

Elementary Level 1 Ground Work (In Hand)

  1.  Learning the three primary classic equestrian goals; Trust – Respect – Engagement
    1. Trust
      1. Horses, as prey animals, spend their lives in fear. Fear and fear reactions are the cornerstone adaptation to equid survival. (Fight of Flight)
      2. Using positive or sympathetic classic training methods, we are able to gain the trust and acceptance of horses.
      3. We teach them to trust us and must learn how to trust them.
    1. Respect
      1. Having gained the trust of a horse, we must teach them to respect us.
      2. A horse who trusts will not automatically respect.
      3. Proper classic training, using ground work defines and clarifies communication aids and instills needed respect.
    1. Engagement
      1. Once a horse has learned to trust and respect they are willing to learn. This is the basis of engagement.
      2. Engagement is the point where a horse is willing to employ it’s body, mainly it’s quarters, to emulate behaviors exhibited in nature.
      3. Engagement means different things to classic equestrians based on their level of riding ability.
  1. Learning the three A's of rounding up horses; Approach – Acknowledgment- Acquisition
    1. Approach
      1. We approach from the side of the horse. (See Safe Zones)
      2. Because of their eye position, horses have blind spots to their front and rear. (See Horses Vision and Field of Vision)
      3. As prey animals, horses are primarily attracted by predators from the rear.
    1. Acknowledgement
      1. On approach from the side we call out to the horse, looking for an acknowledgment.
      2. Horses often sleep standing even brows while sleeping, or simply not paying attention and can easily be frightened.
    1. Acquisition (Leading a horse also referred to as In Hand)
      1. Upon making contact with the horse, place a sturdy halter over its head and attach.
      2. With a 6 foot lead rope, Place the lead rope clasp with the opening to the front.
      3. Collect the lead rope with the connecting length to the outside of the loops or folds, holding that length between thumb and fore finger.
      4. Do not allow the lead rope to drag on the ground where it can be stepped on.
      5. Leading from the near side, hold the connecting clip in your right hand (Taking care NOT to place fingers in any of the clasp holes).
      6. Use vocal aid “Walk or Walk On”
      7. Make forward contact on the connecting lead.
      8. While leading horse take care to maintain an arms length of distance from the horse.
      9. While leading a horse, one must avoid being stepped on by the horses hooves.
      10. While leading a horse one must be alert for holes, sharp objects and things which may frighten the horse.
      11. When leading into and out of gates and doorways, one enters first, then invites the horse to enter.
      12. Riders and horses entering gates and doorways together, can lead to injury
  1. Basic periphery awareness.
    1. Safety Zones (Click Here To Learn More About A Horse's Safe Zones
    2. Horse Fields of Vision (Click Here To Learn More About Horse's Vision and Field of Vision
  2. Basic rules of Equestrian Safety.
  3. Basic Understanding of Horse Signals (Click Here For More Information About Horse Signals -  Body Language)
  4. Basic Anatomy (Click Here To Learn More About Equine Anatomy).
  5. Basic Horse Sounds (Click Here For More Information About Horse Signals - Sounds)
  6. Basic Longeing (Click Here To Learn More About Longeing or Lungeing)
  7. Basic Washing
  8. Basic Grooming
  9. Basic Tacking
  10. Basic Saddle Parts Click Here To Learn More About Saddle Parts.
  11. Basic Bit Parts
  12. Properly mounting and dismounting a horse.
    1. Leg Mount
    2. Block Mount
    3. Understanding of why we do not “Ground Mount”.

Elementary Level 1 Backed (On Horse)

Elementary level backed (while on the back of the horse) work objectives (Usually while on a lead line): Emphasis is placed on teaching fundamental control skills. The rider's goal is to ride on loose or semi-loose reins, teaching the horse to respond to the elementary control techniques described below.
This level will promote the stabilization of the student this is referred to as “developing a good leg and seat” and requires balance and an understanding of posture, leg and foot placement (sounds simple but is a vital equestrian skill)  moving the horse forward, while remaining balanced  even while changing the horses gait. Doing all of these things while remaining mentally and physically relaxed (Avoiding Negative Feedback Loop). The elementary level is used by beginning riders while developing their positions and by intermediate and advanced riders when schooling or re-training horses. The elementary control techniques or Riding Aids are characterized by:

  1. Hands: Loose or semi-loose reins used in a check-release fashion for control and direction of the horse.
  2. Legs: Squeeze and release.
  3. Seat: Balance (The single most critical element of riding).
  4. Voice: Same voice commands as used in lunge work.
  5. Gaits:  The rider should be working toward a balanced seat at the walk and trot.

Intermediate Riding Level

Intermediate Level: Having achieved a balanced seat, the rider is mentally and physically ready to sharpen their skills at applying the aids to engage the horse. This process is SEAT - FEEL - INFLUENCE to modify the horse's performance.

The horse’s performance is encouraged by the rider's ability to create impulsion and connect the horse's movement through use of contact. Emphasis is placed on a cooperative effort between horse and rider. At this level, the student's ability to understand and employ the use of aids has increased. The intermediate control techniques are characterized by:

  1. Hands: Use of rein contact with following hands, give and take; use of reins in cooperation with the horse's mechanics.
  2. Legs: Employing leg aids in coordination with the horse's efforts, while maintaining a stable seat.
  3. Seat: At this phase the riders balance has achieved an independent seat. (Independent Seat: A balanced seat which works in harmony with the independent application of all the natural riding aids. (Definition Credit: Mindy Underhill)
  4. Voice: Used as a schooling aid.
  5. Gaits:  Improvement of contact with the horse working towards cooperation and efficiency of movement.

Advanced Riding Level

Advanced Level: The primary emphasis at this level is to achieve the highest quality performance from horse and rider. The advanced rider's goal is to assess the horse's mental and physical capabilities and to develop appropriate schooling techniques that will strengthen performance. At this stage of schooling, the rider allows the horse to become confident in his work, athletic, and willing to perform to the best of its ability. This level is characterized by:

  1. Hands: Use of the five rein aids with excellent timing and feel; knowledge and use of all aids.
  2. Legs: Use of the three leg aids with excellent timing; knowledge and use of aids at all schooling levels.
  3. Seat: Using seat balance and position as a schooling aid.
  4. Voice: Used as a schooling aid.
  5. Gaits:  The rider should have an understanding of quality of the horses movement, connection, semi-collection and collection.

(For additional information about student riding instruction please click here)

(Click here for more information about Florida Riding Instructors, Trainers and Equestrian Facilities)