Riding Levels

This is a guide to understand the different riding levels taught at NWS.  Please note: it is up to the trainer or instructor’s discretion to assign a riding level based on an observation during a lesson or conversation about the rider’s accomplishments on horseback.


This rider hasn’t recently participated in a formal lesson and/or ridden a horse before. Riders should arrive 20 minutes early to participate in a barn lesson to learn how to groom and tack a horse. The next hour is the riding lesson in which students are paired with another rider and  they share a horse. We require teamwork where one person will lead while the other rides. They then switch half way through and the leader rides. “LEADLINE” doesn’t mean “PONY RIDE.”  Safe riding is all about establishing the proper seat and balance. A lot of this is accomplished by riding without reins which requires assistance. As the weeks progress, the rider becomes more independent in their riding and horsemanship skills. The goals for this rider are to develop a strong sense of balance, proper communication and steering. They should also know how to post at the walk and have practiced a posting trot, with and without use of the reins. A beginner rider has strong balance in the proper English hunt seat position. They have learned how to steer his or her horse without a leader.  They have an understanding of a posting trot and are working on sharpening that skill with a lot of practice.


This rider is working on perfecting the posting trot, changing the diagonal and holding the two-point at the trot.  This rider can safely control a horse in a group setting at the trot. Student will start to make trotting circles, figure 8’s and other exercises.


A novice rider is comfortable with the posting trot and knows how to check and/or change the diagonal.  Student is now learning how to canter and sharpen that skill.  A novice rider usually learns to jump obstacles like ground poles and cross-rails at the trot and canter.


An intermediate rider is comfortable riding at the trot and canter. This rider knows how to ask the horse for the correct lead at the canter. Intermediate riders sharpen their skills on the flat and over fences. These riders practice trotting and/or cantering a course of jumps.


The advanced rider is comfortable at all three gaits on the flat and cantering a full course of jumps. Student has the knowledge of the many details that go into the horse and rider partnership. This rider is working on sharpening their technical skills on horseback.