horseback riding Phoenix ZooHorse Hands at the Phoenix Zoo is a unique program, including equine caregiving and horseback riding lessons, led by Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA)-accredited instructors.

Each Horse Hands program is a four-week series, where CHA equine handlers take students, based on their experience level, through the steps of meeting a variety of horse breeds, recognizing and taking care of their needs, bonding with them and learning to ride them safely.

Horse Hands is an educational, interactive and fun-filled experience connecting people of all ages to the wonder of horses and horseback riding. Classes take place at Thunderbirds Charities Equine Facility at the Phoenix Zoo and are available for children and adults!

To register for Horse Hands, please contact Reservations at 602.914.4333.

To learn more about our CHA certification, visit www.cha-ahse.org.

Mini and Junior Programs:

Mini Horse Hands (ages 3-4, plus a caregiver)

This four-day series is a wonderful opportunity to introduce your little one to our gentle equine.  These hands-on caregiving classes include learning basic needs of a horse, grooming, stable chores, an introduction to riding and more! This is a great time for you and your child to come and have fun with horses while learning safe practices as we do it. This program is designed for children ages 3 to 4 years old. Participants must be accompanied by an adult.  Program is 4 days for one hour each day.

Price:  Members, $72 – Non-members, $90

Dates, Times and Registration

Junior Horse Hands (ages 5-6, plus a caregiver)

This four-day series is a great introduction to horses.  This program will help you determine if horses are a good fit for your child.  Participants will learn safety around horses, basic breeds and colors, plus different jobs and uses of horses through fun interactive activities.  Kids will also experience the basics of tack and riding.  Participants must be accompanied by an adult.  Program is 4 days for one hour each day.

Price: Members, $72 – Non-members, $90

Dates, Times and Registration

Horse Hands Programs:

Each Horse Hands Program is a four-week series. Participants must attend all four sessions to develop riding skills and receive a certificate.  Participants will learn about horsemanship, animal observation, behavior, and bonding.

Price:  Members, $120 – Non- members, $150

Horse Hands Level 1 (ages 7-14)

This program is designed to develop safe and caring relationships between participants and horses. Participants learn basic caregiving skills such as grooming a horse and cleaning a horse’s stall. They also learn the process of preparing a horse to be ridden, which culminates with their first riding experience.

Dates, Times and Registration

Horse Hands Level 2 (ages 7-14)

This program is for those who have completed Level 1. Caregiving is continued in this level with participants learning about caring for a horse’s hooves and how to bathe a horse. Participants begin to develop riding skills that focus on basic control of a horse.

Dates, Times and Registration

Horse Hands Level 3 (ages 7-14)

Level 3 is available for participants who have completed both Level 1 and Level 2. In this program participants will broaden their horsemanship knowledge by learning different breeds and colors of horses. As riding skills develop further, participants are taken outside the riding arena to test their skills on a trail ride.

Dates, Times and Registration

Horse Hands Level 4 (ages 7-14)

To enroll in this program, participants must have completed Levels 1, 2 and 3. In this program participants learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy horses, common horse health issues and how to maintain a healthy horse through proper care. Each participant is assigned their own horse that they will care for throughout the series. Participants continue to develop their riding skills while being introduced to faster gaits.

Dates, Times and Registration

Horse Hands Level 1 for Adults (ages 15+)

If you have never been on a horse before, or if you are somewhat experienced with horses but would like to learn more about their behavior and caregiving, or just generally brush up on your horsemanship skills, then this program is for you.

No adult classes currently scheduled. Please check back this fall for new offerings.

Horse Hands Horseback Riding Series

The primary focus of the Horse Hands Horseback Riding Series will be on riding, however, students will be required to know the caregiving aspects of horsemanship*.  This program is a progression series in which students will have to test into higher levels.  A mandatory orientation will be required for all students entering into the Beginner class.  Students will enroll in 4 sessions, each session being 1 hour in length.

* participants must complete Level 1-4 before enrolling in the Riding Series

Price: Members, $120 – Non-members, $150

Registration for any Horse Hands Horseback Riding Series must be made by contacting Reservations at 602.914.4333.

Horse Hands Beginner Horseback Riding

The Beginner Rider learns to ride independently and with control while maintaining a reasonably secure seat at the walk and trot through simple patterns without a saddle.

Horse Hands Novice 1 Horseback Riding

For those who have earned the merit badges and passed the riding test for Horse Hands Riding Beginner level.  The Novice 1 rider fine tunes his or her seat positioning and control of the horse under saddle at the walk and trot.  Students will perform moderately difficult patterns and be introduced to the canter.

Horse Hands Novice 2 Horseback Riding

For those who have earned the merit badges and who have passed the riding test for Horse Hands Riding Novice 1 level.  Upon completion, the Novice 2 rider will have a solid seat and will be able to control his or her horse through complex patterns at the walk and trot.  Students will maintain a controlled canter and be able to perform basic movements at that gait.

Certified Horsemanship Association Driving Instructor and Driver Certification Clinic, November 6-10, 2017 at the Thunderbirds Charities Equine Facility at the Phoenix Zoo.

Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) is a membership organization, operating internationally, whose purpose is to advance excellence in horsemanship safety and education for the entire horse industry. The Horse Hands program and facility has been accredited by the CHA since 2009, and is also a host site for various CHA certified clinics. This fall we are hosting a Driving Instructor and Driver Certification Clinic (DIDC) at the Zoo.

DRIVING INSTRUCTOR AND DRIVER CERTIFICATION (DIDC)

This program is for driving instructors who teach group lessons in the camp or commercial driving school setting, and for recreational or commercial drivers. Certification includes single and team driving with multiple vehicle types. Both breast collar and collar harness are addressed. There are several workshops included in this clinic including Teaching Techniques for Driving, Risk Reduction, Passenger Safety in Loading and Unloading, Harness Fit and Adjustment, Road Driving, Emergency Procedures and Professionalism. The minimum age for Assistants is 16-years-old, and the minimum age for a driver/driving instructor is 18-years-old.

The clinic is a five-day clinic, and all equipment and horses are provided. The fee for the clinic is $875 for the week. Lunch is provided daily.

For more information about the clinic, please contact Becky Manning at 602-286-3800 x7630 or bmanning@phoenixzoo.org.

For more information about the CHA, visit their website at www.cha-ahse.org.

Level Descriptions
  • Assistant Driver/Instructor: Qualified to assist a certified instructor or driver including grooming, harnessing, ground driving and heading.
  • Level 1 Driver: Qualified to drive single and/or pair recreationally on private property or in an arena; qualified to hitch and unhitch single and/or pairs, including fitting and adjusting harness and vehicle safety checks
  • Level 1 Driving Instructor: Qualified to teach recreational driving on private property, either single and/or pairs.
  • Level 2 Driver: Qualified to hitch and drive single or pair on street or roadway, including ability to correct horse behavior problems, understanding of selection and suitability of driving horses, knowledge of hoof care and common health problems.
  • Level 2 Driving Instructor: Qualified to teach driving on public roads, selection and suitability of driving horses, correcting horse behavior problems, hoof care and common health problems, conformation, lateral and longitudinal alignment, bits and safety equipment.
  • Assistant DIDC Clinic Instructor (ACI): Minimum age 21; prerequisite of Level 2 Driving Instructor certification and recommendation from a CHA Clinic Instructor; qualified to assist in certifying drivers and driving instructors; Level 2 DIDC Instructors recommended as an ACI must apply to CHA for ACI certification. Must qualify as instructor for both singles and pairs.
  • CLINIC INSTRUCTOR: Minimum age 25; qualified to conduct CHA certification clinics and certify drivers and driving instructors with assistance from another CHA clinician. To become certified as a CI, the instructor must first attain ACI certification and then assist at a certain number of CHA clinics to qualify as a CHA Clinic Instructor. Must qualify as instructor for both single and pairs.