Through our unique Horse Masters Program, students of all ages will acquire complete knowledge of the horse, from the ground up, through lectures and the practice of learned skills in horse care and stable management.

Staying true to Deborah Dows’ original mission statement, we are sure to bring up the soundest of horsemen, ones that can not only ride well, but also understand the true value of ground knowledge. It has been said that for every hour spent in the saddle, two should be spent on the ground.

Students of all ages will advance through six levels, starting at the most basic. Participants will receive framed certificates of achievement that will hang in the aisles of our barn for all to see as well as a special token of their respective level!

There will be monthly hands-on and lecture classes for all to attend that are required in order to advance to a higher level.

Below are the levels and a general understanding of what needs to be understood and applied before advancing, however, these are just guidelines and more specific knowledge is needed and will be covered in theory classes! Each level builds on one another, so what is expected in the lower levels must be completed by each upper level in order to advance.

  • Grooming Tools- ability to name them and demonstrate correct use
  • Basic Tack- ability to name and describe the use of basic tack
  • Demonstration of proper tacking and untacking
  • Knowledge of 3 basic gaits a horse travels in when riding
  • Ability to name and show instructor 5 body parts of a horse
  • Ability to name basic horse colors as well as markings

Level 1

  • Ability to put halter on an appropriately sized horse/pony and safely remove from stall and place on cross ties properly
  • Complete understanding of basic grooming routine, including ability to pick all 4 feet without assistance
  • Ability to name and show instructor 10 parts of a horse
  • Ability to name horse colors and varying markings on face/legs
  • Demonstration of proper tack cleaning including correct figure-8 of bridle
  • Knowledge of why saddle pad systems are used on our school horses and explanation of 3 options

Level 2

  • Ability to properly locate horse, groom, tack and untack without assistance
  • Demonstrate how to safely put on and remove blankets
  • Demonstrate how to properly take of horse and tack after ride
  • Understand basic saddle fit
  • Recognize how a horse’s attitude on ground may be related to its behavior under saddle
  • Know reasons for warming up and cooling down a horse before and after work
  • Understand reasons for basic alignment of the horse on circles and straight lines
  • Understand reasons for posting on the correct diagonal

Level 3

  • Ability to recognize and discuss different types of saddles, bits, bridles, crops, etc and their proper intended uses
  • Ability to name and recognize 3 different types of clips for winter and reasons for them
  • Demonstrate proper use of dressage whip
  • Knowledge of basic vital signs and how to recognize signs of discomfort and stress
  • Recognition of different conformational flaws and how they may affect the horses way of going
  • Demonstrate how to properly clean and bed a stall

Level 4

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of horse anatomy
  • Know the sequence of the foot falls in the walk, trot and canter
  • Understand correct leads, how to correct leads, and why one should canter on the correct lead
  • Understand basic lateral movements and reasons for their use
  • Know all of the parts of a snaffle bridle and saddle, along with location of “high wear” areas
  • Perform a tack inspection with safety recommendations
  • Demonstrate safe and correct lunging and understand reasons for doing so

Level 5

  • Demonstrate taking apart of bridle and putting it back together, as well as recognizing and naming individual pieces
  • Demonstrate how to take a horse’s temperature with a non-digital thermometer
  • Recognize normal vital signs and know abnormal signs and what they mean
  • Recognize basic blemishes on lower limbs and have an understanding of what they may be
  • Demonstrate safe use of polo wraps or excercise bandages
  • Demonstrate safe use of standing badnages and reasons for using them
  • Demonstrate proper mane pulling and basic trimming (ears, legs, muzzles)
  • Demonstrate proper loading and unloading of a horse on a trailer with assistance
  • Understand and explain basic feeding regimens and reasons for them

Level 6