An instructor with her student in a western riding class.

Riding - Western

Students that major in western riding at Meredith Manor have 8 one hour western riding lessons per week in addition to 16 hours per week in training classes.

Course Name: Riding - Western

Prerequisites: None

Description:
The Western major can cover work from Western Pleasure through Reining and Cutting. The rider works with horses at various levels of training. Assessing training levels, ground training, acceptance of aids, steadying, straightening, bending, collecting, and shaping the horse are covered. Mental and physical characteristics of the western horse are taught. As the riders and horses advance, work will be on the correct use of the neck rein, riding circles, rollbacks, spins, sliding stops, and lead changes. The emphasis at all stages is to develop a supple, relaxed, flexible, obedient horse and a strong, coordinated, balanced rider with a deep secure seat.

Weekly Topics:
Students will progress though the levels of Western Riding according to their personal interests, efforts, and physical abilities. Topics will vary by levels. Syllabi include specific strategies for developing skills at each level.

Level I: Basic balance in walk, trot, and canter.
Level II: The seat is following the horse’s motion independently most of the time. The student can apply the aids to get the horse into the walk, trot & canter, & maintain the gait. The student is develops body position and riding the bucking machine.
A student in a western riding class at Meredith Manor. Level III: Independent and balanced seat: The student can apply basic leg aids, and rein aids and ride transitions into and out of the three working paces, work in a “ride” to control rhythm and keep the horse in control, and control the horse quietly through various moves: inside track, center line, diagonal lines, and serpentines.
Level IV: The student is able to reproduce more advanced movements on a trained horse while applying the proper combination and coordination of aids.
Level V: The student is able to help correct behavioral and physical problems in school horses.
Level VI: The student is able to start a green horse in basic Western work.
Level VII: The student is able to train a horse to do progressively advanced movements including leg yields, proper leads on any line, changes through the trot, and transitions into and out of gaits, at specific points.
Level VIII: The student is able to train a horse to do progressively advanced movements including circles, spins, stops, and backing.
Level IX: The student is able to train a horse to do advanced movements including rollbacks, sliding stops, and stop & back. Students can perform advanced movements using one hand.

Performance Objectives:
The level of achievement of the following objectives will be partially dependent on the number of quarters the student has been involved in the Western Riding Program. Following successful completion of Western Riding Courses, the student will be able to:

  • Describe or explain the theory of riding with regard to:
    • Position
    • Basic movement
    • The riding tree
    • The training tree
  • Demonstrate the ability to maintain a balanced and correct independent seat while riding a trained horse, while fixing problems on a school horse, and while training a “green” horse in Western movements
  • Demonstrate the ability to ride a trained horse, fix problems on a school horse, and train a young horse
  • Link the theory of Western Riding to practice
  • A Merdith Manor staff member performs a sliding stop.
  • Demonstrate or describe and give examples of the use of Western theory in problem solving during riding and training

Methods:
A variety of instructional methods and strategies will be used, including demonstration and guided practice.

Evaluation:
Observation and feedback will be used to guide instruction and allow students to monitor their progress. Other evaluation measures include: punctuality, attitude, effort, progression, appearance of horse and rider, and attendance.


I have a lot of very valuable knowledge that I can use to help people. The average 21-year-old doesn’t have a system, doesn’t have a solid background. Other than the saddle time you spend at Meredith Manor, having that system is probably the most valuable thing you learn. You can always go back to it.
Jana Armstrong: 2005 Riding Master VI Graduate