Horse Hands: let's ride!
Horse Hands is an educational, interactive and fun-filled experience connecting people of various generations to the wonder of horses and horseback riding, following the Zoo’s mission in providing experiences that inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world. We would love for you to be a part of it! Our Horse Hands programs are held on Zoo grounds at our Thunderbirds Equine Facility, under our large, covered arena.
We offer horsemanship and riding lessons to those 3 years and older in small groups of 10 or less. Participants, together with a partner, will learn everything about horses and horsemanship. Including how to work safely around horses, how to bond with and appreciate animals, and what it takes to care for these magnificent animals.
Interested individuals will need to meet our eligibility requirements to participate in classes.
Ages 3+ (Children age 6 and under must be accompanied by a caregiver)
Please read the following document before submitting Horse Hands registration:
Find Your Program
This three-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 three days, for one hour each day.
This three-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 three days, for one hour each day.
This three-day 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 three-day 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 three-day 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.
This program is available for participants who have completed Horse Hands Levels 1, 2 and 3. The primary focus of the Horse Hands Riding Series will be on riding, however, students will be required to know the caregiving aspects of horsemanship by completing written tests and hands-on demonstrations. This program is a progression series in which students are able to test into higher levels. A mandatory orientation will be required for all students entering into the Beginner class. Each session is an hour.
Horse Hands Beginner 1 Horseback Riding
For those who have completed all Horsemanship Quizzes and have passed the Horse Hands Riding Beginner II level riding test. The Novice 1 level fine tunes the rider’s seat and control of the horse while under saddle at the walk and trot. The rider will learn different ways to ride at a trot; sitting, posting, and 2-point. Students will perform moderately difficult patterns at a walk and trot. While gaining a greater understanding of a horse’s gaits and movement, the rider will also be able to ride comfortably and maintain control at the canter.
Horse Hands Beginner 2 Horseback Riding
- For those who completed all Horsemanship Quizzes and passed the Horse Hands Riding Beginner I level riding test. The Beginner II level fine tunes the rider’s seat and control of the horse with no saddle on a bareback pad at the walk and trot. Bareback allows the rider to improve balance, strength, posture, flexibility and adds to the rider’s confidence. This will allow the rider to be in better motion with the horse and fine tune their natural aids.
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 completed all Horsemanship Quizzes and who have passed the Horse Hands Riding Novice 1 level riding test. The Novice 2 rider will have a solid seat and will be able to control the horse through complex patterns at the walk and trot. Riders will be able to maintain a controlled canter and perform basic movements at that gait. Riders will also be introduced to English riding and tack instead of Western.
Call 602.286.3800 to register.
Participants must complete Level 1-3 before enrolling in the Riding Series