Horse & Heart
Not-for-Profit Social Enterprise
Horse Whispering Levels Courses
for competent horsemanship
The Holistic Horsemanship curriculum for children, with age-adapted sessions.
Building confidence and safety around horses, learning true finesse and gentleness in handling – a foundation to Mastery for all equestrian disciplines.
The programme includes:
- Ground skills
- Teaching horses new things
- Equine Ethology & Psychology (Theory classes)
- Positive Leadership
- Desensitisation (overcoming fear)
- Practical skills (trailer loading etc)
- Natural Husbandry and care
- Riding Naturally (optional)
- Draft Work (optional – see our Working Horses page)
Courses of 2 to 5 days
For your own group
At your own venue with your own horse
Or with the Horse & Heart herd
Suitable 8 to 15 y.o. in groups of similar age
The Levels curriculum is suitable for children who want to learn more in-depth skills and technique and achieve true competence in the art of horsemanship; although the teaching style remains the same throughout our courses – fun, play-based learning following the children's (and the horses') ryhthms, encouragement-powered, no pressure and all inclusive.
Horsemanship means learning true horse language – how to become the horse's teacher, and, in their eyes, their "lead horse". Ideal for training your own pony, as a way of gaining confidence in the world, or simply as a fantastic activity.
The foundation skill set of this programme is essential for anyone who handles or keeps horses, and is a beautiful journey of connection and partnership for a fulfilled equestrian experience!
The programme starts with understanding horses in their natural setting (equine ethology) – how they think and feel (equine psychology), learning how to be like a horse among horses. Then moving on to playing and bonding, at Liberty and with a rope, and riding / draft work for those who wish, to finally lead on to horse training for any discipline.
Holistic Horsemanship also develops personal skills such as self-confidence and expression, conscious communication, team building and cooperation, positive leadership, resilience and empathy, emotional intelligence, and motor skills.
Each module is an in-depth study taught to the highest scientific standards, and hands-on skills are developed to refinement level. This programme is a path of mastery and excellence exploring knowledge, skills, and self understanding to a deep level. More than a technique, it is a way of life.
The first modules take place in the Horse & Heart herd, and thereafter you can follow the curriculum either with the Horse & Heart herd or with your own horse or pony.
No previous experience is required to join in.
Simply please be aware that the horse world is an outdoors and physical lifestyle, with exposure to the weather and which challenges souls and spirits to keeping growing.
Children who already have an equestrian background are welcome of course, they simply need to be aware that they will learn again from the start and that some of their old habits and beliefs won't apply – this is something new and different.
The journey can be taken further with the True Ways Apprenticeship programme, and all the way to professional level of horse training and instructorship.
Please remember that if you are starting on the Holistic Horsemanship journey, you are the student and your horse is your teacher – although you will learn new skills together. It is advised to follow the programme with an experienced horse who is comfortable around people – and to get to Level 7+ before taking on a young or troublesome horse.
However, if you've already got a young or difficult horse then do come anyway! – you will have the opportunity to practise with school horses before handling your own horse.
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You will need to gather together a group of children who can meet at regular intervals for the courses.
The course fee is for the whole group – payment shares are organised between group members.
Groups are kept small to ensure the best level of personal attention, quality of teaching, and group dynamics:
Maximum numbers 6 participants.
Depending on the age group, parents may be requested to be present during classes.
LEVELS 1 & 2 take place in the Horse & Heart herd.
From LEVEL 3 onwards, courses can either continue in the Horse & Heart herd, or take place at your own venue, with the children's own horses.
From that point it is also possible to bring your horse to the Horse & Heart centre for the courses if some of the participants in your group wish to carry on working with the Horse & Heart horses.
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With age-adapted content and teaching rhythm.
Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 1 ; introduces Horsemanship Ethics
A Natural Approach: Introduction - Ethology & Liberty - 1 to 3 Days (Horse & Heart herd)
Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 2
a) Advanced Herd Connection (Liberty) - 2 to 3 Days (Horse & Heart herd or trusted herd)
b) Natural Equine Husbandry & Nutrition - 1 to 2 Days (Horse & Heart herd or natural setup)
Level 3 - Training principles:
Including theory module: Psychology of Learning part 1
a) Overcoming Fear - Desensitisation - 1 to 3 Days
b) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Rhythm - Responding to Intention - 1 to 3 Days
c) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Touch - Responding to Feel - 1 to 3 Days
Natural Handling for Vet & Hoof Care - 1 to 3 Days
Level 5 - Rope work & Liberty - Preparation to Riding:
Including theory modules: Psychology of Learning part 2 ; Equine Temperaments part 1 ; Creating a Training Plan
a) Advanced Energy & Touch / Energy & Rhythm - Responding to Feel & Intention / Trailer Loading - 3 to 5 Days
c) Advanced Desensitisation - 3 to 5 Days
Includes theory module: Equine Temperaments part 2
a) Liberty with Purpose - 3 to 5 Days
b) Foundation to Riding (specific) - 5 Days
c) Preparation for hacking & unknown environments (Groundwork) - 5 Days
a) Riding Naturally (Freestyle) - 5 Days
b) Wild Pony Training (subject to venue) - 5 Days
c) Foal Training (subject to venue) - 5 Days
Level 8 - Finesse – Balance, Lightness, Calm & Harmony:
a) Liberty in Finesse - 5 Days
b) Riding in Finesse – all disciplines - 5 Days
c) Riding Bridleless - 5 Days
d) Training in Finesse - 5 Days
Your Path – tailored coaching to Mastery - Custom
Depending on your chosen area of specialisation this can be tailored in partnership with other instructors.
Apprenticeship & Professional Training offered*
* See Menu
The durations mentioned are a guideline to the time needed to complete each theme. From L2 onwards, themes are usually mixed during a single course to be introduced as is naturally needed.
However generally speaking a group must complete a level in full before moving on to the next level, except for L7 b & c which are optional.
Where there is a choice of duration, choose the full course for an in-depth experience orthe shorter length for a taster.
Younger children may need a shorter course to meet their learning capacity, whereas older children may be happier with a longer course.
In order to keep the momentum of learning courses are ideally taken at 1 to 3 months intervals (depending on the age of the children and whether they are training their own ponies during the programme or just working with the Horse & Heart herd), however it is possible to space them out further.
It usually takes 2 to 4 years to get to Refinement level if consistent and regualr time is dedicated to practise.
For the curriculum for draft work see our Working Horses page.
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Certificates of Attendance are delivered for full attendance to a workshop or course.
Certificates of Completion (optional – L3 onwards) can be applied for by demonstrating each task of a level with one's own horse.*
Certificate of Mastery (optional): Students demonstrate the tasks for each level with 3 horses representing all learning temperaments + show one creative goal of their choosing.*
* For Completion and Mastery levels, tasks must be performed with a horse who has been trained by the student, not with a school horse. Completion of a level includes having followed the complete theory lessons as well as showing the practical tasks.
These certificates are optional – only for students who request them – and students can take as long as they and their horse need to complete them at their own pace. Students who wish to carry on to professional level must complete Mastery standard for all levels.
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What to expect
Unless specifically specified modules can take place either with the Horse & Heart herd or at your own location, with your own horses.
When working with their own horse chidlren will need to have their own tack.
School horses from the Horse & Heart herd come with their tack.
However, all students must provide their own equipment for themselves (appropriate clothing and footwear, riding hat).
Riding hats, professionally fitted and complying with current UK safety standards are compulsory for all classes for children under 15 (including groundwork) and for everyone when riding.
Groups are from 3 to 6 children. When working with the Horse & Heart herd children might have to share a horse with another student.
Select your course theme, location and length (when applicable) upon booking.
You can either book a place on a scheduled course or book a tailored course for your own existing group.
When you create your own group, the sessions are totally tailored to your group's rhythm and needs (horses' and humans') and the curriculum may be jiggled around to accommodate what is best for you.
When attending a course module the lessons are structured in levels covered in depth including practical skills, theory classes, personal growth practices, group supported learning and co-coaching.
In each session students are given new tools of horsemanship and we make sure that these are understood correctly and applied safely.
The students then take them home to work on as homework (when practical) and we keep working on them together until they are fully assimilated and students are ready to move on to the next level.
Students may take the time they and their horses need to explore the learning outcomes and there is no pressure to keep up as everyone can wok on their own tasks within a level. Themes can be revisited over several courses before moving on to the next module.
All of the curriculum's levels & themes and the learning outcomes covered may be made flexible for children depending on their learning rhythms and needs.
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- The best way is for your child to complete the full programme in the Horse & Heart herd, especially if they are new to horses or to this approach.
- If you already own your own horse or are experienced in Natural Horsemanship, for your child to complete L1 & 2 in the Horse & Heart herd before picking up with their own horse.
If you wish your child to practice with their own horse or pony, please choose an easy and experienced horse as their partner. The horse is the teacher, they need to have the stability and maturity to take on that role for your child, and only adopt a horse if you are an experienced horse owner yourself.
Please be aware that educating a young horse, a wild horse, or a troubled horse with behaviour issues requires skills of an advanced level (L8+). Please do not ask a child to take on that task – have a look at our Training Livery options to accompany you on this journey. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate stallions on group courses.
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« There is so much connection between the children and the ponies, They seem to understand each other completely! I didn't know that was possible. » Parent
« It's such a high level of skill, I mean, none of my daughter's friends who have been riding for years can do what she can do with horses. » Parent
« When I was little we were taught to push and shove horses, and to be so hard. And this is all gentleness, lightness, and so much connection and fun... This is WONDERFUL . » Parent
« Look at the big smiles on all their faces... And if horses can grin too, this lot certainly are grinning now! » Parent
« I love learning horse whispering, I can talk to my pony and she understands, and we play together like real friends. I know how to look after her, so she looks after me. I think she loves it too. » Child
« None of my horsey friends understand horses the way I do. I can get them to do things when they were afraid, to trust me. I know what they feel and how to talk to them. » Child
« I love it that the horses come to us when we arrive, and include us in their herd. They are as happy to see us as we are to see them! » Child
« What we do here brings us closer together – I feel that we will all be friends forever, even those we didn't know before. Because we have done this together, and we understand each other in a better way. » Child
« This is the way I wish I'd learnt to connect with horses. Every child should have that. » Parent
Marie is a qualified BFEE2 Natural Horsemanship practitioner and an experienced instructor.
She has developed the Holistic Horsemanship approach through years of intensive study and practice with master horsemen and women and through immersion in herds of semi-wild horses, as well as through training in shamanic healing and Animal Communication.
Marie is passionate about education and is a dynamic instructor dedicated to the continued development of her teaching skills with adults and children. Her background in alternative and conscious education gives the foundation to the ongoing improvement of unique teaching programmes for holistic learning, community building and personal growth.
What kind of background is required to start learning Holistic Horsemanship?
No previous experience is required. The journey starts with getting to know the horses and learning their language and everyone starts again from scratch as the skills are specific.
There is no pressure to learn fast either, you can just take your own time.
If you come from an equestrian background, great! Your experience will be useful to you, but be prepared to have to unlearn and re-learn a lot too.
And yes, everyone can do it.
Do children need to have their own horse to follow the Horsemanship Levels programme?
You don't need to have your own horse, you will learn with the Horse & Heart herd – and work on some concepts and simulations at home as personal growth practices. It is the best way to start connecting with horses!
Just be aware that some higher level modules are only open to students with their own horses, and also that some certificates are only possible to apply for with your own horse. These are not compulsory however.
When (or if) the day comes for you to have your own horse you will be much quicker to go through the programme together!
What equestrian discipline is this approach suitable for, and what level can it take to ?
This approach is the foundation to all equestrian disciplines and leads to a professional level of horsemanship. It teaches the horse to respond to your lightest touch or change of energy and focus, to trust your calm in every situation, to take responsibility for a task and to understand the subtlest cues, from basic to advanced exercises. It teaches the human how to act like a lead mare to gain the horse's tr