Your Path in Harmony

More Info – Horsemanship

 

Holistic Horsemanship Curriculum

The Holistic Horsemanship programme is structured as learning outcomes grouped in levels and themes.

 

Levels Courses

The Journey Together    &     True Partners

The Levels curriculum is aimed at competent horsemanship from beginners up to professional standard.

The programme starts with the science of equine ethology – understanding horses in their natural setting – and equine psychology, then gradually moves on to integration in the herd and relationship building, including Liberty and rope work, to finally lead on to horse training for any discipline. Self-development is also part of the programme.

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 Journey Together is the path of Holistic Horsemanship leading to riding, in any equestrian discipline (although riding is not compulsory and students may take the modules that they wish).


 True Partners is the curriculum tailored specifically for working horses in harness.

The foundation to both The Journey Together and the True Partners curriculums is the same, only the specialised modules branch out to each area of specialisation. It is therefore possible to complete both curriculums by simply signing up to the extra specialised modules.

All modules are available for adults & children.

You can either book a place on a scheduled course or book a tailored course for your own existing group.

 

THE JOURNEY TOGETHER   for groups / one-to-one



Level 1:  

Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 1 ;  introduces Horsemanship Ethics
A Natural Approach: Introduction - Ethology & Liberty   - 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or trusted herd)

Level 2:

Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 2
a) Advanced Herd Connection (Liberty)  - 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or trusted herd)
b) Natural Equine Husbandry & Nutrition 
- 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or natural setup)

Level 3  - Training principles:

Including theory module: Psychology of Learning part 1
a) Overcoming Fear - Desensitisation  - 3 Days
b) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Rhythm - Responding to Intention  - 3 Days

c) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Touch - Responding to Feel  - 3 Days

Level 4:
Natural Handling for Vet & Hoof Care / Equine professional practitioners & Horse owners* - 3 to 5 Days

* this module can also be offered as a stand alone


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  - 3 to 5 Days
c) Advanced Desensitisation  - 3 to 5 Days

Level 6:

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

Level 7:

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

Refinement:
Your Path – tailored coaching to Mastery  - Custom

Depending on your chosen area of specialisation this can be in partnership with other teachers / masters.

Professional Training*

The durations mentioned apply to group workshops and courses. A group must complete a level before moving on to the next level, except for the ones marked in green which are optional. Where there is a choice of duration, choose the shorter length for a taster or the full course for an in-depth experience.

One-to-One and Duo sessions follow the same programme on a "learn as you go" basis, tailored to the students.

 

TRUE PARTNERS   for groups / one-to-one

Leading to work in harness


Level 1:  

Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 1 ;  introduces Horsemanship Ethics
A Natural Approach: Introduction - Ethology & Liberty   - 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or trusted herd)

Level 2:

Includes theory module: Equine Psychology part 2
a) Advanced Herd Connection (Liberty)  - 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or trusted herd)
b) Natural Equine Husbandry & Nutrition 
- 3 Days  (Horse & Heart herd or natural setup)

Level 3  - Training principles:

Including theory module: Psychology of Learning part 1
a) Overcoming Fear - Desensitisation  - 3 Days
b) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Rhythm – Responding to Intention  - 3 Days

c) Horse Language in practice: Energy & Touch – Responding to Feel  - 3 Days

Level 4:
Natural Handling for Vet & Hoof Care / Equine professional practitioners & Horse owners* - 3 to 5 Days

* This module can also be offered as a stand alone


Level 5  - Rope work & Liberty - Preparation to Work in Harness :

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  - 3 to 5 Days
c) Advanced Desensitisation  - 3 to 5 Days

Level 6:

Includes theory module: Equine Temperaments part 2
a) Liberty with Purpose  - 3 to 5 Days
b) Foundation to working in harness (specific) 
- 5 Days

c) Preparation for working on the road and in unknown environments  - 5 Days

Level 7:

a) Working in Harness Naturally  - 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) Working in Harness in Finesse - 5 Days
c) Training in Finesse - 5 Days

Refinement:
Your Path – tailored coaching to Mastery  - Custom

Depending on your chosen area of specialisation this can be in partnership with other teachers / masters.

Professional Training*

The durations mentioned apply to group workshops and courses. A group must complete a level before moving on to the next level, except for the ones marked in green which are optional. Where there is a choice of duration, choose the shorter length for a taster or the full course for an in-depth experience.

 

One-to-One and Duo sessions follow the same programme on a "learn as you go" basis, tailored to the students.

 

Certificates

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.*

* 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. Only students who wish to carry on to professional level must complete Mastery level.

Holistic Horsemanship Professional Certificates are issued upon completion of each area of professional specialisation:

Step 1 – Equine Education – a) Liberty   ;   b) Riding   ;   c) Harness

Step 2 – Teaching –  a) Adults   ;   b) Children

We recommend

- If you are new to horses or to this approach, to come and have a taster session and up to Levels 3 /4 in the Horse & Heart herd before working with your own horse;

- If you are already experienced in Natural Horsemanship or have owned horses for a long time, to complete L1 & 2 in the Horse & Heart herd (recommended as courses rather than short sessions) and pick up from there with your own horse.

 

Please be aware that educating a colt or foal / filly, a wild horse, a stallion, or a troubled horse with behaviour issues requires skills of an advanced level. If you are learning this approach please choose an easy and experienced horse as your partner: the horse is the teacher, they need to have the stability and maturity to take on that role for you.

 
 
 
 
 

Theme Courses

Theme Courses are offered for the purpose of self-development / social skills: they focus on a particular theme in more depth. (These courses are not subject to levels or assessments).

The exercises offered in these courses draw from a variety of self-development, Holistic Horsemasnhip, meditation, healing and connection techniques from different parts of the world, such as Oriental meditation and breathing technique, the Alexander Technique,  Occidental psychology, Native American community skills and many others.

THEME COURSES   for groups / families  –  available for adults & children   (in the Horse & Heart herd only):

These courses can be taken in any order. 

3-Day courses are an introduction to a theme or "taster",  choose a 5-Day course for an in-depth experience.

You can either book a place on a scheduled course or book a tailored course for your own existing group.

- Learn from the Herd: True Connection  - 3 to 5 Days

- Learn from the Herd: Empathy  - 3 to 5 Days

- Learn from the Herd: Resilience  - 3 to 5 Days

- Learn from the Herd: Play  - 3 to 5 Days

- Learn from the Herd: Leadership  - 3 to 5 Days

- Learn from the Herd: Community Building  - 5 Days

What to expect

Unless otherwise specified modules can take place either with the Horse & Heart herd or at your own location, with your own horses.

Ridden work may only take place with the clients' own horses. All Connection & Self-development work, Groundwork, Rope skills,  Liberty and Work in Harness can be done in he Horse & Heart herd.

When working with your own horse you will need to have your 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 where necessary).

Groups are from 3 to 6 people. If working with the Horse & Heart herd you 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 taking One-to-One / Duo sessions the sessions are totally tailored to your rhythm and needs on a "Learn as you go" basis.

 

When attending a course module the lessons are structured in levels covered in depth including practical skills, theory classes, self-development 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 and we keep working on them together until they are fully assimilated and students are ready to move on to the next level.

Even in group courses lessons are tailored to everyone's needs (horses and humans) and the curriculum may be jiggled around to fit. 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 apply to children as well although the learning outcomes covered may be more flexible depending on the children's learning needs.

 

FAQ

What kind of background do I need to have 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 so 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 I need to have my own horse to follow the training?

You don't need to have your own horse, you can simply practice with the Horse & Heart herd – and work on some concepts and simulations at home as self-development 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. But none of those are compulsory.

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 me 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 trust and respect, and the skills to become the best possible teacher, knowing how to adapt to any horse.

Once the foundation is in place, the finesse levels look at the specifics of each discipline according to your needs : whether it is hacking, jumping, dressage, logging, carriage driving, working, circus shows or anything else – from there on you can take it to the highest levels, building on your skills.

Think of it as a school system: L1 & 2 are  pre-school; L3 & 4 primary school;  L5 & 6 secondary school; L7 is A Levels graduation,: L8 is University; and Refinement is your Doctorate – carrying on refining to the level of your dreams. 

How long does it take to complete the entire programme?

This is totally dependent on:

- What your previous experience is

- What age your horse is and their background

- How much time you put into your study

- To a certain extent, how quick a learner you are at mental, emotional and motor skills .

If you can spend 2 to 4 hours per week practicing and take each module intensively, you could complete the curriculum in 1 or 2 years. 

Usually, dedicated students spend 2 to 4 years to get to Refinement level.

If you're taking it at a slower pace then it's entirely up to you.

Once you reach L8, the journey of refinement continues forever after - and you can look at training to become a professional.

Children, however, tend to learn much faster!

How long do I have to study groundwork before I can ride / work in harness?

This also depends on the same factors:

- What your previous experience is: you will need to be eased into riding gently if you havent' done it before.

- What age your horse is and their background: a horse's bones finish solidifying between 5 and 7 years old. Before that, they can be sat on and learn some riding cues depending on your relative weight to them, but they can't be asked to do a lot physically. If your horse is "green" or has behavioural issues you'll already need to be an experienced rider. Same goes for pulling heavy loads although a lot can already be introduced in harness without too much weight.

- How much time you put into your study

- To a certain extent, how quick a learner you are at mental, emotional and motor skills.

In all cases, the concept of this approach is to establish a solid relationship of trust and clear communication with your horse before riding or working in harness. It will take as long as it takes for you to establish that together and that can vary a lot. 

Generally speaking, if your horse is already experienced  (backed) and has no behavioural issue, and if you can spend 2 to 4 hours per week practicing and take each module intensively, you could start riding within 1 to 3 months of starting the programme, and introduce light harness work within 6 months.

If you're taking it at a slower pace, or if your horse needs more time to work on fear, then it can be any length of time.

But don't worry about it too much. This is all about the relationship, and every step is of such depth and beauty that it hardly matters what happens when. It will happen when it is right for you. Meanwhile, a lot of people find so much joy in playing with their horse at Liberty that they never even bother riding again! Your journey will be unique. It will be yours.

Is it compulsory to follow the entire curriculum?

Not at all. You can take the modules one by one up to the level of your choosing.

You do need to complete a level before moving on to the next though, except where specified otherwise.

You only need to follow the entire curriculum if you wish to train to professional level.

Can I join an existing group?

Yes, open classes will be listed on our Events page.

Alternatively, you can book your existing group (3 to 6 people) on the Bookings page.

Can this approach be a self-development / social development practice?

Yes, absolutely! A personal plan is drawn with each student / group or family according to their own wishes and needs.

Contact with horses, and particularly approaches like Holistic Horsemanship which focus on self-awarenesss, have been shown to help with (amongst others):

- Building Confidence

- Developing Transferable Learning Skills

- Social & Communication Skills

- Emotional Intelligence

- Resilience

- Motor Skills & Problem Solving

- Positive / Collective Leadership Skills & Team Building

- Developing Empathy

- Finding a Purpose

If self or social development is the focus we will work on the theme courses curriculums in more depth rather than focusing on the horsemanship levels. Both can take place alongside each other but be sure to be clear about your expectations when we draw out your plan.

What if I don't want to ride?

That's perfectly ok – lots of people don't. There is so much to do and enjoy with a horse on the ground – from Liberty to rope work, self-development and even working in harness if that's something you'd like. Just take the modules that suit and inspire you for your own unique relationship with horses.

Do you use bits?

The entire curriculum is done in a Natural Horsemanship halter and at Liberty. You will never need to use a bit for riding if you do not wish to.

If you wish to use a bit, you will need to understand why and how they function and to train your hands as well as your horse to the utmost level of lightness. Bits should never be used for control, only for precision in finesse, and should not be introduced before Refinement level.

If your horse is not safe to be ridden / taken out without a bit, he /she is simply not ready to be ridden or taken out!

During the programme, we can help you work on plan to transition from the bit if you are already riding bitted.

Can I ride bareback?

Yes, you can ride in whatever style you like.

When learning a new skill the priorities will always be:

- The horse's comfort and welfare

- Your safety

For example, if your horse hasn't muscled up his back he/ she might need more time before he/ she is ridden bareback or an appropriate saddle to help support your weight. You will also need to consider how long you want your riding sessions to be: for your horse's welfare, if riding for long periods at a time you will need to dismount for long breaks especially if riding bareback.  Or if you haven't got much riding experience you might be safer in a bareback pad to help build your balance. We can discuss all this together and help you find what works best for you and your horse.    

Is the programme suitable to people with special needs?

Yes, as long as safety can be ensured – the lessons are always tailored to each student's needs anyway. In some cases special arrangements will need to be made such as adapted learning tools or a carer being present for example.

The only issue depending on the situation might be access as we are on wild moorland: make sure to contact us in advance to check what can work and discuss the specific requirements and best setup.

Will I need to buy anything for the lessons?

You will need to bring suitable clothing and footwear.

A riding hat conforming with current UK standards is compulsory for children in all lessons (including groundwork), and compulsory for adults when riding. (Unfortunately we are not able to lend riding hats as these must be professionally fitted for safety.)

If working with your own horse you will also need the standard Natural Horsemanship training tools (stick, string, halter and rope), as well as any tack necessary to your training goal (for example your own saddle, harness, or other tack).

Please do not buy cheap / counterfeit tack as yours and your horse's safety and comfort rely on it – ask us for advice if you're not sure what to buy.

Can this approach help me get over a fear of horses?

Yes, this approach is the best way learn the skills to do it and to take it at your own pace, with no pressure.

Being wary of horses if you don't know them is a very healthy place to start from as it keeps you safe! Your confidence will grow as you learn their language and your position in the herd.    

Is this programme suitable for stallions?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept stallions (entire males) on courses due to the risk to other participants and horses.

In terms of training, stallions use the same language as other horses of course, so the learning outcomes are as relevant to them as they are to any horse. However, due to their position in the herd, stallions do not take directions from any other horse than their lead mare, and they take their job and responsibility very seriously. Working with stallions without having a long and thorough experience of horses and  before having achieved Mastery standards to L8 is not recommended as it can be unsafe.

Should I buy / adopt my own horse?

If you are new to horses, the best thing is to learn the foundation skills with the school horses of the Horse & Heart herd before you take on your own horse. You will then have a solid foundation when the time comes to adopt your own horse: knowing how to set up their evironment for their health and welfare, how to handle them safely and how to look after them. 

If you have a lot of experience with horses and know what you are taking on, then you'll probably benefit more from taking the journey with your own horse.    

 

Only consider adopting a horse if:

- You already have a lot of experience in horse care, husbandry and training.

OR

- You have completed L1 to 4 of the Holistic Horsemanship curriculum with confidence and can get some qualified help if needed.

OR

- You intend to keep your horse in Training Livery until you have achieved that level.

If this is your first horse you should choose an experienced horse who is used to people, safe to be around and easy to handle.

Be particularly careful not to choose a horse unsuitable to your level and skills. Many people will sell horses to unsuitable buyers and even lie about the horse's issues or simply be unaware of them. Take a competent person with you to advise you when choosing your horse. This horse will be your teacher, he needs to be able to step into that role for you.

 

Only adopt a wild or young horse if:

- You have a lot of experience;

AND

- We recommend completing at least L7 modules in wild / foal training beforehand.

OR

- You intend to keep your horse in Training Livery until you have achieved that level.

A wild or young horse will be impacted by every moment of interaction and the smallest thing can scare them or shape their behaviour for life. It takes a lot of skills to handle and educate them positively.

Do not expect a young or wild horse to be your teacher: they rely on you to know what you are doing and they are in a vulnerable position there. Only take them on if you are ready and qualified to step into that role for them.

Remember also that horses need to live in herds and to be able to move a lot outdoors: please do not consider keeping a horse on their own or stabled a this would be damaging to their mental / emotional and physical welfare.

If you are ready and have the appropriate setup, then enjoy a happy time with your horse!

Can I train to professional level?

Yes, absolutely.

Once you have completed your Mastery level, you can become a trainee Holistic Horsemanship practitioner.

The first step of professional training is equine education, with options for Liberty, Riding and Harness. The second step (if you wish to take that path) is as a teacher for people with options for adults and children students. Each step has its own programme of study with formal classes and personal study, including hands-on, theory, research and personal development. Some modules are set, others are free where the student chooses their own area of development. The 2 steps can be taken together or separately.

The professional training can be offered as group modules if there are enough students to make a class, or as a One-to-One journey. If intensive time is dedicated to your study it could take you from 1 to 2 years to complete, or you can take it at your own pace.

Holistic Horsemanship Professional Training:

 Step 1 : Equine Education

a) Liberty  ;   b) Riding   ;   c)Harness

Step 2: Teaching

a) Adults   ;   b) Children

Once qualified, you will be "Holistic Horsemanship approved" and can continue to develop your own approach as you wish as long as it meets the same ethics.

 

Be in touch when you are close to completing your L8 if you wish to apply for professional training! 

Are you insured?

Yes, we are fully insured.

Horse & Heart

Teign Valley, Dartmoor

Devon / United Kingdom

www.facebook.com/horseandheart/

Marie(@)Horse-and-Heart.com

+44 (0) 78 66 877 423

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