Off Horse Activities: Markings & Attitudes of the Horse

This could also be two separate posts, but it’s time for me to wrap up the Off Horse Activities Series. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts and have learned something new! If you have been able to apply any of this in your own work, leave a comment! I would love to know.

But alas, it is time to turn toward our final post of the series: Markings & Attitudes of the Horse.

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Off Horse Activities: Tacking

Tacking rounds out the fifth pillar of riding: groom, tack, ride, untack, groom. Teaching riders to tack gives them the complete picture of riding their horse, helps them learn a new skill, and puts their physical body to work.

Tacking can include actually tacking up a horse or it can be used to teach riders about different types of tack. In therapeutic riding activities, we typically see English and Western saddles, bareback pads, surcingles, and possibly Australian saddles, side saddles, or adaptive equipment.

There are also different types of pads and girths, halters and bridles, and accessories like a martingale. You can adapt the lesson to your individual riders based on how in-depth you want the lesson to be. The beauty of tacking is that it can be taught over a few weeks to cover all the basic tack and also teach parts of the tack.

I typically use tacking to teach riders how to tack up their horse correctly and to learn the parts of tack. Sometimes we clean tack and learn each piece of tack and other times we will tack up the horse. I find tack lessons usually help engage the rider mentally and it is easy to bring them back to the task at hand if they get distracted.

Do you teach tacking in your lessons? What’s something you’ve noticed when your riders learn about tack? Let me know in the comments below!

Off Horse Activities: Grooming

The series continues! We’ve talked about gross motor skills and fine motor skills and how to help develop those motor skills with off horse activities. Today I want to bring the horse back in to the conversation. As horsepeople, we know that riding is only a small part of being around the horse. Feeding, bathing, hand walking, turning out, medical care, grooming, cleaning tack, and so many other tasks make up our time with horses.

If we want our riders to develop deeper relationships with the horses, what better way to do that than through grooming?

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Off Horse Activities: Gross Motor Skills

Last week we talked about developing fine motor skills through off horse activities. Today, we are going to discuss the other main motor skills: gross motor skills. Gross motor skills help us walk, throw, catch, and balance. These motor skills form the basis for fine motor skills so it is just as important to focus on gross motor skills as fine motor skills.

Luckily, the horse helps develop gross motor skills. The balance, posture, core strength and horse movement all positively impact gross motor skills. However, today is about developing those gross motor skills off the horse so let’s get to it!

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Off Horse Activities: Fine Motor Skills

Motor skills are the movements and actions of muscles. Typically, motor skills are divided into gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills require the use of large muscle groups to do things like walk or balance. Fine motor skills require the use of smaller muscles to do things like write or zip a jacket. Therapeutic riding can help develop both types of motor skills, but today I’m going to focus on developing fine motor skills off the horse.

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New Series! Off Horse Activities

I am going to start a new series here for the next 6 or so weeks. Many therapeutic riding centers offer both mounted and unmounted lessons. The therapeutic riding center I started with, GAIT TRC, has 60-minute lessons. Thirty minutes is on the horse and thirty minutes is in a learning room. I find off-horse activities to be very beneficial to the rider’s growth, learning ability, social skills, and horsemanship.

It inspired me to start a series based on lessons for off-horse activities. These activities are geared towards younger riders, but can be scaled for any age or skill level. Some of these activities could also be adapted to a ground-based program, depending on the goals of your participants.

A new blog will post every Monday morning so you can add some of these ideas to your weekly lessons. Check back next week for the first blog of the series all about fine motor skills!

You can find all the blog posts in this series in my new blog section: Series. This is the first of my series, but I have a few more in the works so I’ll keep you updated on what comes next.