Riding Levels

This is a guide to understand the different riding levels taught at NWS.  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 skills on horseback.

Classes for youth (ages 7-18)


(Ages 7-12. If you are a beginner aged 13-18, please contact us directly before signing up for a class.)

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 lessons 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. 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.

Walk (W)

Riders in this group will be practicing their independent riding skills, such as maintaining the correct leg and heel position, holding the reins correctly, and maintaining balance. They will be mounted for the full hour. Riders will practice the rhythm of posting at the walk and will then begin to practice a posting trot for a short distance.

Walk/Trot (W/T)

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.

Walk/Trot/Canter (W/T/C)

A W/T/C 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.

Walk/Trot/Cantor/X-Rails (W/T/C/X)

A rider in this class is comfortable riding at the trot and canter. This rider knows how to ask the horse for the correct lead at the canter. Riders sharpen their skills on the flat and over fences. These riders practice trotting and/or cantering x-rails.

Classes with Jumping

Riders jumping 18″ and above are comfortable at all three gaits on the flat and cantering a full course of jumps. These students have knowledge of the many details that go into the horse and rider partnership. They are working on sharpening their technical skills on horseback.

Classes for Adults

NWS offers a limited number of classes for adults with riding experience. We do not currently offer classes for new adult riders.