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Cougar Mountain Stables Horsemanship & Care Levels

Red Level - Horsemanship

The Red Horsemanship Level is an introductory level, designed to give students a safe overview of basic mounted and unmounted skills. It introduces safety concepts for handling horses on the ground and in the saddle. Takes rider through grooming, tacking up, mounting and dismounting, riding at the walk and learning the posting trot.

Unmounted Exercises:

Student will learn basic safety practices for working around horses; simple identification of tack and grooming equipment; elementary equine anatomy; and basic needs of the horse.


Green Level - Horsemanship

The Green Horsemanship Level is a next level, designed to further develop students’ basic skills on the flat while preparing them to jump. Green Level introduces more consistent canter and an awareness of leads; provides equitation exercises on the flat and the development of smooth turns and good approaches over ground pole courses; introduces jumping over an 18” cross-rail; and emphasizes the need to develop a strong, balanced position before jumping courses.

Unmounted Exercises:

Student will be able to assess fit of tack; to identify basic first aid equipment; to understand concepts of conditioning for horse and rider; to apply simple bandages; to understand elementary stable management principles and routine horse care; to identify common breeds and riding disciplines.


Orange Level - Horsemanship

The Orange Horsemanship Level is an intermediate level, designed to give students the ability to ride with balance and accuracy on the flat and over fences.

This Level asks students to perform simple flatwork and gymnastic exercises with and without stirrups, while developing a rhythmic canter over fences. Our goal for Orange Level students is for them to achieve enough competency to safely participate in mounted activities outside of lessons, while encouraging their appreciation for flatwork and equitation  as well as consideration for their horse.

Unmounted Exercises:

Student will be able to demonstrate safe longeing and an understanding of gaits and distances; to evaluate basic conformation points; to plan conditioning schedules and relate horse’s work and condition to feed rations; to continue expanding knowledge of stable management and veterinary care; to begin relating equine behavior to human management practices.

Image by Daniele Levis Pelusi

Rainbow Level - Horsemanship

The optional Rainbow Level is a special introductory level just for very young riders, aged 4 through 7, who are not yet able to ride and care for a pony independently. Rainbow Level riders should always practice their skills with the supervision and assistance of an instructor!

Rainbow Level introduces a simplified version of both Horsemanship concepts. Rainbow Level riders ride on the leadline, or with a “Ground Buddy” walking close by, to ensure their safety and control. They may require help with tasks such as leading and grooming, as well as the simple reading and writing required to complete the Level.

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Yellow Level - Horsemanship

The Yellow Horsemanship Level is a next level, designed to build upon skills introduced in Red Level and give students the ability to ride confidently and securely at the trot. Students will practice emergency skills; work towards balanced walk-trot transitions and a steady trot through ring figures; learn posting diagonals and sitting trot; put flat-work skills to use in the Intro A dressage test; learn how to properly ask for the canter; strengthen jumping position over ground poles in a grid and over a simple course.

Unmounted Exercises:

Student will refine leading and grooming skills; will learn to care for tack; to describe and measure horses; to apply protective boots and blankets; to identify elementary feeding principles and situations requiring veterinary care.


Blue Level - Horsemanship

The Blue Horsemanship Level is a level, designed to encourage students to ride on the flat with attention to detail and an awareness of the horse’s balance, while giving them the skills necessary to safely trail ride, jump, and ride over introductory cross-country fences. 

Blue Level requires students to demonstrate accuracy on the flat at the walk, trot, and canter, with correct diagonals, leads, and transitions, with and without stirrups. It introduces exercises for improving the seat; riding the Intro C dressage test; aids for achieving correct bend; simple gymnastic grids up to 2’; related distances; strategic riding over elementary jump courses; riding in the open over hills and natural obstacles, and effective emergency stops at the canter.

Unmounted Exercises:

Student will be able to perform thorough grooming; to understand action of bits and specialty tack; to identify farrier tools; to understand principles of horse gaits and movement, basic first aid and parasite control, and safe longeing and trailering practices.


Purple Level - Horsemanship

The Purple Horsemanship Level is an intermediate level. It rewards patient practice by introducing more challenging flatwork exercises, and prioritizes fitness of the rider in both dressage and jumping positions. Our goal for Purple Level students is for them to acquire the secure seat and coordinated use of aids necessary for more advanced riding, while gaining confidence and experience in a variety of English & Western riding disciplines.


Unmounted Exercises:


Student will be able to understand and demonstrate show-quality grooming; to apply more advanced bandaging techniques; to evaluate longeing performance; to understand more advanced concepts of equine farrier and veterinary care; to identify daily horse management practices and safety issues related to trailering; to understand the economic realities of horse ownership.

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