Children at NSAE

NSAE : lessons for young riders

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At NSAE we work very carefully with young riders. Horses are large dangerous animals and they are also sentient beings. Young people are ambitious and courageous; they are also often far out of their depth before they know they’ve taken on too much. They have no clear idea what is at stake, and they are both infinitely cherished and infinitely breakable. There is so much to learn about being in the world skillfully! What is balance? What is the relationship between fear and courage and just being dumb? Can I love someone and still set a boundary to keep myself safe? How? Can I have interactions where all the participants succeed, both me and my equine partner?

We have a great safety record with very few falls, even fewer injuries over decades of riding instruction. We also have healthy and engaged school horses. We value both the rider’s safety & the horse’s sanity: they are actually intimately intertwined. Horses can’t feel safe if riders are unbalanced, and riders can’t get balanced if their horses are bananas. So- sane horses, sane riders. It’s a good combination.

Lessons can be purchased as a single event, a one time or regularly scheduled family experience, or taken weekly in blocks of 4 or 8 lessons per month. School horses are available, or riders may bring their own mounts. Horses may remain on site for training or just for boarding while the rider studies with the instructors.

No horses may be boarded here if their riders are not in training with NSAE.

Independent young riders: 6 or 7 on up

Children from six years on up, if they are ready to pay attention, can begin to truly learn to ride. Children are considered old enough to begin seatwork on the longe line at about six or seven years. We begin their lessons on the longe line, and the child will remain on the longe until truly balanced and able to exercise very good control at all gaits.

This may take years. We don’t care. It’s good work, and it’s a lot of fun.

We keep children (and adults too) on the longe line until control is easy and making good decisions comes naturally. We don’t sacrifice children or horses to the “horse as just a furry motorcycle” mentality too prevalent in modern riding. The longe lessons begin with fun, creative, tried and tested balance exercises that develop a rider’s true seat. Along with the balance, we begin to teach the language of the rein aids, so that the child learns to control the horse by connection with the mind, cadence, and weight of the moving animal.

Children trained this way develop a much safer connection to the horse, and a life-long ability to re-find their best balance as their own body changes over time.

Teenage Riders at NSAE

Teenagers:

Riding is a great way to spend an afternoon, and many teenagers love working with horses. We offer a deep understanding of this ancient art, starting with balance and moving right up into profound control.

And horses offer so much more than just entertainment for their riders.

Horses teach boundary setting, they teach leadership, they teach a clear distinction between trying to get what we want through either bullying or its flipside, victim-hood, Horses don’t respond to either. They offer a young adult an uncomplicated love that calls out the best of what it is to be human, our loving hearts, our intelligence, our quick instinct and our thoughtful sense of– what we might call a sacred space, that heart-centered love of these beautiful beings draws something wonderful out in any sentient rider. Horses are wonderful for us, and we’ve known this for millennia.
At NSAE we are riding in an older form that was created before competition, and we do not compete. Riding with us your teenager’s focus is on the pleasure found in improving his or her riding– not on the gratification they find in beating someone else. This older form was used for centuries to teach young men who would be Kings, because it calls out the noble heart in the rider.

Working student positions are available for teenage riders, half of a lesson package can be worked off if the instructor feels a rider is mature enough to offer real value for their time at the barn. Working student must be capable of working responsibly around the horses. School horses are available for on-site lease for mature teens on approval from their instructor.

Calm, Forward, and Straight…old maxims in classical training, and the underlying principles for our riding school.

NSAE is not ‘fast track’ riding. Horses and children both matter too much to us to rush the process of balance and connection. We are an old school, classical riding academy, where safety for rider & horse are both taken seriously. Our stellar safety record reflects this, and the horses testify to their correct handling by their skill and generosity. 

If you want your child to be pressed past their fear and tension, and made to ride in spite of themselves, we invite you to find a different barn.

If you want your child to learn to set boundaries, learn to listen to their better instincts, to recognize balance and imbalance, and respond appropriately, to respect the horse as a living being and to get a real classical education, learning leadership through connection and balance and engagement then you won’t find a better barn anywhere for this good, deep, older way of connecting with the best in ourselves, and the best in our horses.