Wouldn’t you like to be able to ride with the balance and grace of the women pictured on this page? You can. In fact, it’s your birthright as a woman. Your pelvis, for instance, is shaped much better for sitting a horse than is a man’s pelvis. But as long as you’re forced to imitate riding styles developed by men, you can’t capitalize on your structural strong points. If you can temporarily forget about the fine points of specific riding disciplines, though, and focus on the fundamentals of balance, center, and connection, the hidden roots of your own power as a woman rider can blossom in ways that will advance your riding skills in quantum leaps. And that’s both the focus and goal of the Women and Horses Program of Riding Lessons.
All levels of riders, women aged 15 and over, are welcome in this program. Beginners, re-riders, fearful riders, and those with health-related issues may take individual lessons until they reach the level of proficiency (walk-trot) required for the video assessment portion of the program. So if you have always wanted to learn to ride, dream of getting back in the saddle after years of being horseless, or want to recover joy and excitement in your professional riding, this is the perfect opportunity for you to live your dreams — and to claim your birthright as a horsewoman!
Foundation Rider Lesson Program. If you are a new rider, returning rider, or a rider with challenges such as health problems or fear, you may wish to take Foundation Rider lessons before you start the “Women and Horses” Riding Lesson program. Foundation Riders take lessons on a week-to-week basis, paid as you go, until you reach a point of being able to walk and trot on a horse securely, safely, and with confidence. Then you can be meaningfully assessed videographically and can advance into the “Women and Horses” Riding Lesson program.
“Women and Horses” Riding Lesson Program consists of six-week blocks, each one-hour private riding lesson in the block costing $50. This fee includes the time spent by Tapestry staff in preparing a biomechanical assessment of your riding and an individual plan based on those assessments. You can learn more about the nature and quality of our biomechanical assessment and the report we provide you on the biomechanical assessment pages of our Balance-Center-Connect Program. This type of personal assessment alone normally costs many hundreds of dollars, which is why we ask you to commit to a six-week program in its entirety to receive the service. You may prepay the entire six weeks (and save 10%) or pay on a week-by-week basis, however.
After you receive a report based on the photographic, videographic, and art-based assessments (see below for more details) of your riding, you will receive four weeks of individually-tailored instruction based on those assessments. Lessons are private and last one hour. You can ride gentled Mustangs at our ranch near Colorado Springs (Colorado) or take lessons on your horse at your barn, and in most cases you will do both at different times. That gives all of us the best chance to assess your balance, centeredness, and connectedness on different horses. It also allows us to assess your horse’s balance, centeredness, and connectedness and the ways the two of you might have learned to compensate for one another without even realizing it.
The first assessment is based on a video recording of you riding your horse at a walk and trot (and canter, if you are comfortable cantering your horse). We will record video of you riding with your saddle and, if you are comfortable doing so, riding bareback, and this video will then be analyzed by Dawn Adrian, Ph.D., a scientist with special expertise in biomechanics. At your second lesson, you will receive the assessment report and have it explained in easy-to-understand terms. Then Anne Belasco, the program director, will begin teaching you how to balance, center and connect better than you have been, using the biomechanical assessment and its recommendations as a baseline. Anne brings her years of experience as a horsewoman and as director of Tapestry’s Horse-Human Relationship Program, along with her training in women’s psychology and women’s ways of knowing, to the process of helping you become the horsewoman you’ve always wanted to be by focusing on your balance, centeredness, and connection.
At the beginning of the second six-week block of lessons in the Women and Horses Program, you will again be assessed through videos of your riding. But this time, you’ll be recorded riding one of our gentled Mustangs, both bareback and with a saddle, to help us see issues that might not show up on your own horse if it’s learned to compensate for habits of imbalance you might have. This, in turn, allows us to help your horse learn to rebalance and center itself more normally when carrying you — which is good for your horse’s long-term soundness! (Note: If you’ve been riding a horse at our ranch to this point, you will be put on a different Mustang for this part of the assessment.) The four weeks of lessons that follow this assessment focus not only on helping you balance, center, and connect, but on helping your horse do the same things more naturally with you on its back. In fact, some of this second report’s recommendations may specifically suggest exercises your horse should do to help it rebalance more normally as part of freeing up the two of you from old, mutually-reinforced habits of posture that limit what you can do.
The third six-week session begins with your participation in a private, one-hour, art-based assessment of your balance and centering. This work is facilitated by Carol Francisco, Ph.D., an artist and certified art therapist (retired). You’ll be fascinated to learn what art can tell you about you and your own horse’s balance and centeredness — information we will then use together to further improve the riding experience for both you and your horse!
You can stay in the program as long as you like, with each portion scheduled for 6 weeks so that you can receive continual assessment and individual instruction as long as you want or need to do so. This lesson program focuses on how you, as a woman, can balance, center, and connect while riding. It is a wonderful stand-alone program or you can combine it with lessons from your current trainer to enhance whatever discipline you ride.
You can register and/or get additional information by emailing Anne or calling Tapestry at 719-347-3090. Please leave a message if you get the machine as we may be out teaching or working with horses.
Picture credits, from the top: “Nótt [Night] riding Hrímfaxi,” Peter Nicolai Arbo, 19th Century; Lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing white cape, seated on white horse at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C.; “Waverly Oaks,” Thomas Hill, 1898; Ogallalah Lakota women on horseback, Edward Curtis, 1907; Spring Outing of the Tang Court, Tang Dynasty, 8th century; Catherine Walters (1839–1920) on horseback, c 1860; A ceramic female polo player, from northern China, Tang Dynasty, first half of the 8th century, made with white slip and polychrome. From the Musée Guimet (Guimet Museum), Paris.