“The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu
Many LOPE horses were at-risk before coming to our facility. Older ex-racehorses have reputations similar to pitbulls. People often think they are difficult and dangerous by their nature. It’s also common for these horses to be unwanted due to old sports injuries from their track days. But they are good horses (we think they are the best horses). They just need extra time to heal injuries, learn new job skills and develop equine social skills.
The LOPE horses share much in common with young people from troubled situations. Because of that, LOPE has created a unique program to bring them both together. Our First Step Teaching Series is designed to introduce horsemanship to at-risk and disadvantaged youth. We offer the following:
First Step Workshop
Students spend the session learning how to handle, groom and lead a horse. In addition, they observe and participate in a training session with a horse at liberty (in a round corral with teacher supervision). The workshop demonstrates how to discern equine body language, individual horse personalities and safe ways to approach horses. The First Step Workshop gives students an introduction to basic horsemanship principles on the ground. No riding will be done in the workshop. Sessions are 90 minutes for groups of 1-3 participants. Students can repeat this workshop, if desired. Longer, customized workshops can be designed for larger groups.
First Step Course
The First Step Course is designed for students who have previously attended First Step Workshops and are ready learn more about practical horsemanship. The course focuses on ground work, stewardship (vet, farrier care), barn skills, equipment (saddles/bridles) and training principles. Depending on student aptitude, the course may include a riding lesson (on experienced, gentle lesson horse) during the series. The emphasis is on understanding the principles of good horsemanship on a deeper level. There are multiple demonstrations by horse professionals (trainers, vet staff, farriers, barn managers), as well as possible opportunities to attend horse events (schooling show or clinic). Course consists of one 90 minute session per week for four weeks. Participants are limited to 1-3, so as to give individual instruction by teacher.
First Step Internship
The First Step Internship is a special program for students who have demonstrated a serious commitment to horsemanship. The interns will do barn and horse work in exchange for learning opportunities with the LOPE teachers and other horse industry professionals. Understanding the nature of the horse — and how to help the horse – will be the key focus of the internship. Practical skill development is emphasized in multiple subject areas (horse handling, show grooming, horse care, ground training and so on). Students who are accepted into the First Step Internship program will be valued members of the LOPE team. Their duties will revolve around the care of the LOPE horses and the development of their potential. Internship will require a commitment of 4-6 hours per month from each intern for three months.