Why Are Colors Important?

Our whole world is made up of colors and shapes. They are often the first ways we learn to interact with the world around us: a red square, a yellow ball, etc. Colors and shapes are extremely noticeable. We see them and recognize them and categorize them every day; much more than we do with numbers or letters. This is a big reason why children learn colors and shapes first.

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ESMHL Workshop

Hello cowboys and cowgirls! I have some exciting news to share with you! Recently, I went to a workshop to start the process for my ESMHL Certification. ESMHL stands for Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Once I finish my certification, it gives me the ability to run EAAT (equine-assisted activities and therapy) sessions in partnership with an educator and/or mental health professional.

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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!

Red Light, Green Light

What You Need:
A Loud Voice
Colored Cue Cards (optional)

This is a game that can be played in a private, semi-private, or group lesson. It works best for younger riders, but you can make it more advanced to appeal to older riders.

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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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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.