Horse 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 or click here.
Mini and Junior Programs:
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Already have some horse experience and want to learn a new horse skill? Sign up to learn to drive a horse with our CHA Certified Driver and Driver Instructor. Participants in this class will explore the exciting world of modern horse driving. Students will learn to name the working parts of the harness, and various carriages, along with how these elements function together to harness the power of the horse. Students will also learn how to handle the lines (reins) of the single horse, how to safely harness the horse(s), hitch or ‘put to’ the carriage, and learn the basic principles of driving. It also serves to help establish good horsemanship and safety habits while driving.
A mandatory orientation will be required for all students entering into the Driving Class. Students will enroll in 4 sessions, each session being one hour in length.
Registration for Introduction to Driving must be made by contacting Reservations at 602.914.4333.
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.
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.
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.
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.