One thing holds true for all horsemen and horsewomen: From novices to world-caliber professionals, we never stop learning.
Fortunately, our industry provides us with a vast amount of opportunities to enhance our horse knowledge at every life stage and every skill level.
Here, we?ve rounded up 50 options tailored to help you define and reach your own educational goals as a student of the horse. Whether you want to improve your riding fundamentals through clinics, hone your skills in a particular discipline, acquire a trade, build a career through a college degree program, or simply enjoy yourself on an educational vacation, this guide will get you to the classroom.
For each course, we'll provide an objective to give you an idea of the purpose, a course description to detail what's involved in the clinic/school category, and numerous educational options to make the most of your enrichment experience.
Course name: Intro to Horse Expos 101
Educational objective: To view a broad spectrum of horse activities and plot your long-term learning plan.
Course description: Horse expos and horse fairs are popular ways to view a variety of horse breeds and sports, see a diverse group of clinicians, and connect with people in your equestrian community. And, of course, to shop for horses and ?school supplies.? (Tip: Check local horse publications and the Internet for 2012 expos; these events are generally held early in the year.)
Western States Horse Expo. Cal Expo Center; Sacramento, California; June 10?12; horsexpo.com; (800) 352-2411. John Lyons heads up a stellar group of clinicians and demonstrators at this mega expo. More than 70,000 attendees shop at hundreds of commercial booths, explore the nation?s largest display of horse trailers, enjoy an equine art show, are enlightened by a breed showcase, go to the fence in a cow-horse competition, and much more.
Casca de Horse Fair. Northwest Washington Fairgrounds; Lynden, Washington; September 29?30; www.cascadehorse fair.com; (360) 354-4111. In only its second year, the primarily Western horse event is poised to grow. Regional clinicians, plus a cutting competition involving mechanical ?cows,? made season one a resounding success.
Equine Extravaganza. The Meadow Event Park; Doswell, Virginia; November 4?6; equineextravaganza.com; (410) 349-9333. Highlights include a Western trainers? challenge, cowboy dressage demonstrations, eventing, jumping, and gaited horse clinics, plus special canine events and demos.
Northeast Equine Expo. Southhampton, New York; June 10?12; neequine expo.com; (877) 778-3976. Among the Northeast?s premier horse fairs, the event features English and Western clinicians, an art show and contest, plus vendors from throughout the region.
Course name: Fundamentals of Riding 102.
Educational objective: To learn better horse handling from top professors.
Course description: Clinicians help novice through expert riders to improve essential horsemanship skills and learn more effective communication through hands-on riding clinics and schools.
Steve Rother Excel With Horses. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; horseteacher.com; (971) 533-6865. A two-time winner of the Mane Event Trainer Challenge colt-starting competition, Steve Rother shares his knowledge via demonstration events, clinics, and intensive riding camps. DVDs and online lessons round out his program for continuous learning and support.
Palm Partnership Training Clinics. See Web site/call for clinic dates and locations; lynnpalm.com; (800) 503-2824. Known for her amazing exhibitions with the late Quarter Horse Rugged Lark, Lynn Palm is among the most highly regarded instructors in the horse world. A special ?woman?s touch? will be added to select Ride Well clinics, which will include customized clinics with optional spa treatments for participants.
Craig Camer on Double Horn Ranch Clinics. See Web site/call for clinic dates and locations; craigcameron.com; (800) 274-0077. Craig Cameron, founder of the Extreme Cowboy Race series and a well-known advocate of natural horsemanship techniques, offers courses lasting three to eight days that feature one-on-one instruction and plenty of saddle time.
Julie Goodnight Horsemanship Training. See Web site/call for clinic dates and locations; juliegoodnight .com; (800) 225-8827. RFD-TV television host and trainer Julie Goodnight presents two-day horsemanship clinics covering groundwork and riding skills. Auditors and riders are welcome at these clinics.
Light Hands Horsemanship. Santa Ynez, California; May 19?22; lighthands horsemanship.com; (530) 346-9125. This three-day seminar features 10 equine luminaries from a variety of disciplines and focuses on resistance-free training and riding at all stages of a horse's life. Among the stars: Jack Brainard, Sheila Varian, Jon Ensign, Lester Buckley, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, and Dr. Robert Miller.
Tellington TTouch Training. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; ttouch.com; (866) 488-6824. Linda Tellington-Jones teaches students her unique TTouch training philosophy. The 40-year-old training method blends animal training, healing, and communication.
Reis Ranch Universal Horsemanship. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; reisranch.com; (800) 732-8220. Dennis Reis? two-day seminars offer hands-on instruction throughout the summer and fall during his No Dust Tour. His resistance-free training methods put the horse first and help students better understand their equines.
Jonathan Field Horsemanship. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; jonathanfield.net; (888) 533-4353. Jonathan Field is Canada?s version of Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson, but with a personality and style all his own. A devotee of Parelli and other gurus of natural horsemanship, he's made it his life?s work to pass his knowledge on to average horsemen who want to become exceptional horsemen.
Course name: Advanced Riding 201.
Educational objective: Learn and improve skills in specific disciplines.
Course description: Master advanced riding techniques and skills in specialty disciplines, such as cowboy dressage, barrel racing, cutting, team roping, and reining.
Cowboy Dressage at Wolf Creek Ranch. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; cowboydressage.com; (530) 346-2715. Learn the up-and-coming Western discipline of cowboy dressage from its originator, Eitan Beth-Halachmy. The master will instruct classes limited to four students each at his Wolf Creek Ranch in Grass Valley, California, before hitting the road for a summer tour.
Barrel Racing With Martha Josey. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; barrelracers.com; (903) 935-5358. Women?s Pro Rodeo Association world champion Martha Josey has taught more barrel racers and barrel racing champs than any instructor. Her popular clinics at the Josey Ranch in Karnack, Texas, and seminars held throughout the country are the places to get a firm grasp of fundamentals or fine-tune your competitive form.
Sharon Camarillo Performance Horsemanship for Better Barrel Racing Clinics. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; sharon camarillo.com; (209) 369-8859. A former National Finals Rodeo competitor and the author of books and DVDs on the sport, Sharon Camarillo is a superstar instructor who has led b
arrel-racing clinics across the globe. Her 2011 coast-tocoast tour includes clinics in both the U.S. and Canada.
National Reining Horse Association Regional Clinics. See website/ call for clinic dates and locations; nrha .com; (405) 946-7400. Learn the fine points of reining from top professionals like Mike Flarida, Craig Johnson, and Randy Paul at these regional clinics scheduled throughout the U.S., March through May.
Leon Harrel Cutting Clinics. See website/call for clinic dates and locations; leonharrel.com; (817) 523-5221. Learn cutting from National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame legend Leon Harrel at his facility in Springtown, Texas. For those serious about the sport, including beginners, Harrel?s three-day clinics will vastly improve your skills.
Krece Harris Team Roping Clinics. Various clinics year-round; Decatur, Texas; nrsworld.com; (800) 467-6746. Krece Harris has talent not only for roping, but also for teaching others to rope. These clinics, held at the NRS Training Center, help rank beginners to learn and provide a progression to competitionlevel skills, as well as specialized heading and heeling clinics.
Course category: Trade Schools 301?305.
Educational objective: Learn an equine trade in two years or less.
Course name: Farriery 301.
Course description: Learn the craft of horseshoeing from certified professionals.
Cornell University Farrier Course. Ithaca, New York; www.vet.cornell.edu/ education/farrier; (607) 253-3000. Master the science of farriery, plus get plenty of hands-on forge work, as well as trimming and shoeing experience. Choose from a 16-week short course or an advanced course for practicing professionals.
Kentucky Horse Shoeing School. Lexington, Kentucky; kentuckyhorse shoeingschool.com; (800) 626-5359. Learn this ancient trade in a new stateof- the-art facility in heart of Kentucky?s fabled Bluegrass Country. Courses range from two to 36 weeks.
Mission Farrier Schools. Snohomish, Washington; missionfarrierschool.com; (360) 862-1406. Combine traditional horse shoeing with instruction in ?natural balance? barefoot trimming.
Course name: Saddlery & Leather Work 302.
Course description: Master the basics in a variety of Western arts and crafts, for personal fulfillment or professional employment.
Jesse Smith Saddlemaking and Leather-Carving Classes. Pritchett, Colorado; jessesmithsaddlery.com; (719) 643-5553. Jesse W. Smith founded the saddlemaking program at Spokane Falls Community College and built it into one of the leading saddlemaking schools in the U.S. He not only teaches how to make functional saddles, but functional works of art as well, at his home in Colorado.
Montana Horseman Saddle Building School. Belgrade, Montana; montana horseman.com; (406) 388-1387. This school offers an intensive six-week course designed to teach the essential skills of Western saddlemaking and fitting. Founder Dale Moore is a cowboy, educator, and horseman with more than 45 years? experience in the saddlemaking trade.
Sierra Saddle Making School. Las Cruces, New Mexico; saddleschool.com; (575) 644-4557. Learn the basics of saddlemaking (and build your own custom saddle), or take advanced courses that lead to mastery of the craft. Extra course work in decorative tooling and chap making is available.
Don Atkinson?s Saddle Making School. Ingram, Texas; donatkinson .com; (830) 367-5400. Don Atkinson is a certified master saddlemaker emeritus in the American Saddle Makers Association. He?s been teaching the art of saddlemaking for decades, as well as producing his own hand-built custom saddles in his small shop. Atkinson also teaches classes in boot-making and chap-making.
Course name: Professional Horse Trainer/Clinician 303.
Course description: Gain the skills needed to be a clinician or horse trainer.
Clinton Anderson Clinician Academy. Stephenville, Texas; downunderhorse manship.com; (888) 287-7432. Clinton Anderson?s academy allows students to participate in a series of three 14-week courses that lead to certification as a trained Downunder Horsemanship Method clinician. Lessons include Anderson?s training methods, training theory, and the business skills needed to succeed.
Parelli Professional Instructor Certification Program. Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and Ocala, Florida; parellinaturalhorsetraining.com; (855) 727-3554. Pat Parelli is a pioneer of the comprehensive approach to natural horsemanship training instruction. His course offerings come in four levels, with the goal of teaching amateur and professional riders to use the program?s central principles of love, language, and leadership.
Course name: Veterinary Technician 304.
Course description: Gain the skills needed to be a veterinary technician from a fully accredited American Veterinary Medical Association program. (For additional accredited schools, see the AVMA Web site at avma.org.)
Pima County Community College Veterinary Technology Program. Tucson, Arizona; pima.edu; (520) 206-7803. Learn to provide veterinary care to animals, including nutrition, nursing, anesthesiology, radiography, and clinical laboratory procedures. Gain practical experience in clinic settings.
Cedar Valley College Veterinary Technology Program. Lancaster, Texas; devtp.org; (872) 860-8270. The Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP) came to be more than 10 years ago as a joint effort by Cedar Valley College and the American Animal Hospital Association. Cedar Valley College (CVC) has offered a campusbased, AVMA-accredited veterinary technician program since 1978.
California State Polytechnic University. Pomona, California; csupomona.edu; (888) 232-9724. Originally the winter ranch home of cereal magnate W.K. Kellogg, the campus retains his working Arabian horse ranch alongside rose gardens and avocado groves. This legacy is reflected in a wealth of equine-related clubs and activities, as well as a fully accredited school of veterinary science.
Yakima Valley Community College Veterinary Tech Program. Yakima, Washington; yvcc.edu; (509) 574-4759. The Veterinary Technology Program is a two-year course of study leading to an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology. Yakima Valley?s program prepares graduates for the successful completion of the national and state board examinations leading to licensing as a veterinary technician.
Colorado Mountain College. Glenwood Springs, Colorado; coloradomtn .edu; (866) 271-2381. Located at the Spring Valley Campus, the farm includes outdoor pens, work areas, and a science lab. The 2,600-squarefoot hospital was designed by veterinarians and technicians to approximate a working veterinary hospital to provide on-the-job training.
St. Petersburg College. St. Petersburg, Florida; spcollege.edu; (727) 341-3779. This venue offers two- and four-year programs and distance-learning programs, all accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Course name: Equine Accupressure, Saddle Fitting, and Massage 305.
Course description: Learn the essential skills of these rapidly growing professions or take these short courses to provide relief to your own horses.
Northwest School of Equine Massage. Seattle, Washington; nwsam.com; (425) 222-3703. Despite what its regional name suggests, the school offers classes and seminars at locations throughout the U.S. and i
s among the most cutting-edge, up-to-date schools for small- and large-animal therapy work.
Rocky Mountain School of Accupressure and Massage. Carbondale, Colorado; rmsaam.com; (866) 903-6462. Approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, the school offers a series of five-day programs leading to certification in the practice.
Wilson-Meager Sports Therapy. Concord, Massachusetts; sportsmassage inc.com; (978) 772-9702. Jo-Ann Wilson is a recognized leader and innovator in equine sports massage, having worked with Olympic and World Equestrian Games teams. Wilson instructs classes and clinics for those who want to provide massage therapy to their horses, want to practice equine massage as a profession, or desire to extend practices in veterinary medicine or massage therapy.
Animal Dynamics Equine Sports Massage. Reddick, Florida; equine sportsmassage.com; (352) 591-6025. Founder Don Dorran has a 35-year history as a professional horseman. In addition to equine massage therapy instruction, the school offers training in saddle fitting and equine acupoint therapy.
Course name: Higher Education 401.
Educational objective: Gain a college degree, with the end goal of employment in the equine industry.
Course description: These colleges and universities offer degree programs that emphasize career success in equestrian fields such as training/instruction, pre-veterinary and veterinary sciences, reproductive technology, and equine marketing and business management.
University of Findlay. Findlay, Ohio; findlay.edu; (800) 472-9502. Intensive riding and hands-on fieldwork augment classroom instruction in one of the most highly regarded equine studies programs in the world. Related courses include judging, nutrition, reproduction, farm and stable management, exercise physiology, and more.
West Texas A&M University. Canyon, Texas; wtamu.edu; (806) 651-0000. The university offers comprehensive programs in business, equine science, and agriculture, plus offers hands-on experience in Western or English disciplines. It's also well-known for its collegiate judging and horsemanship programs.
University of Louisville. Louisville, Kentucky; louisville.edu; (800) 334-8635. Located in the heart of Kentucky?s horse industry, the school of business offers an equine business major. Students complete a standard business school curriculum, augmented with 30 credit hours in specialized courses related to the horse industry.
Murray State University. Murray, Kentucky; murraystate.edu; (800) 272-4678. An equestrian center, a horseman?s club, competition teams, on-campus equine events, plus hands-on riding instruction augment the classroom experience at this college. Students earn degrees in equine science studies that relate directly to employment in equinerelated occupations.
Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado; colostate.edu; (970) 491-6909. CSU boasts a highly regarded veterinary equine sciences program and is a leader in equine reproduction research. The institution offers an equine science major and graduate studies in equine orthopedics, equine reproduction, and equine nutrition.
Course name: Electives 501.
Educational objective: To have fun! Relax! Travel! Course description: Incorporate a relaxing vacation with equestrian enrichment, and bring along the family?and horses?depending on your choice.
Mountain Horsemanship: Veterinary Care and Horsepacking in the Wilderness. Lone Pine, California; July 10?16; extension.ucdavis.edu/beyond; (800) 752-0881. Take a deluxe horsepacking trip in the Golden Trout Wilderness of California?s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Learn the essentials of backcountry horsepacking and emergency veterinary care. It's an all-inclusive package? you don't even need to bring a horse.
Mustangs: A Living Legacy. Bishop, California; June 11?14; extension.uc davis.edu/beyond; (800) 752-0881. Track wild horses in the remote Pizona area of Inyo National Forest. Observe and photograph mustang herds and learn their social patterns and their 21stcentury struggles.
Bitterroot Dude Ranch Centered Riding Clinics. Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming; June 19?26; bitterroot ranch.com; (800) 545-0019. Join Donna Snyder-Smith in a weeklong ranch vacation focused on learning to ride effortlessly, enjoyably, and safely. Guests participate in riding lessons in the morning and are free to ride and explore the trails in the afternoons.
Texas Hill Country Riding Clinics. Bandera, Texas; equitours.com; (800) 545-0019. Enjoy a peaceful stay on a century-old cattle ranch in the heart of the Texas Hill Country?an ideal fall/winter get-away. Topics explored include horse psychology, groundwork, developing a balanced seat, relaxation, and proper human/ equine biomechanics.
Johnny Leverett?s Horsemanship. Parlin, Colorado; johnnyleverett.com; (970) 641-5800. At his Green Mesa Ranch just east of Gunnison, Johnny Leverett offers a variety of clinics and workshops of various lengths, from weekends to full weeks. Students can visit nearby Crested Butte and the Black Canyon, turning a Leverett clinic into a mini vacation.
Course name: Continuing Education 601.
Educationa l objective: Improve your skills and further your education using online resources.
Team AD International. teamadinternational.com; (208) 201-5890. Al Dunning is among the most recognized names in Western horse training. Realizing that most would-be trainers can't spend years apprenticing with top trainers to become great horsemen, he set up Team AD International as an online apprenticeship program for aspiring horse professionals and non-pros who simply want to be better horsemen.
Shawn Flarida?s Personal Trainer On line Videos. thegreenshirt.com. Shawn Flarida is the most successful trainer in National Reining Horse Association competition, with more than $4 million in career earnings. In his online program, Flarida shows reiners how he gets the best performances out of his horses and the techniques that made him an NRHA Hall of Fame inductee.
Patrick King Horsemanship Great Rider Challenge. pkhorsemanship .com; (724) 859-8558. Lifelong horseman, trainer, and clinician Patrick King has designed a 52-week course that includes short video lessons and progress tracking to become a better rider in one year. Like an exercise or weight-loss program, this series helps riders set achievable goals that build toward positive results.