Mount Holyoke Riding Program
Mount Holyoke’s liberal arts curriculum seeks to develop in each student an awareness and understanding of the need for physical activity. Riding is one of the many offerings in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics. Classes meet twice weekly to earn two physical education units toward the six required for graduation.
A physically demanding discipline, riding offers numerous benefits. Among them are improvement in balance, coordination and a sense of rhythm. Emotional gains are found in increased self-awareness, self-confidence, self-discipline, mental acuity and persistence in the pursuit of excellence. The challenge of working in partnership with the horse toward a high level of performance involves infinite patience, and the end result can be wonderfully rewarding. The staff at the Equestrian Center focuses on developing not only outstanding riders but also informed, caring horsewomen.
Mount Holyoke offers riding to students of all levels of experience. The beginner classes assume no prior riding experience. The advanced riding classes cover basic dressage - the foundation of good flatwork - and increasingly difficult jumping skills. Classes that focus strictly on dressage, including test riding, are also offered.
Beginning Riding (PE 051
and PE 052)
For those with no prior formal riding instruction. Students learn safety procedures in handling, grooming, and tacking up. They learn to control the horse at the walk, trot, and canter, and develop a half-seat position for jumping low cross-rails.
Low Intermediate Riding (PE
For riders capable of controlling a horse at the walk, trot, and canter and over very low jumps. Students learn improved control of the horse on the flat and over low jumps. Focus on the rider includes developing a stable position and balance.
Intermediate Riding (PE
For riders capable of riding on the flat and over two-foot jumps while maintaining control over the horse. Students work to improve effective use of the aids to influence the horse and continue to develop a secure position and balance.
Introduction to Dressage
For riders with a solid mastery of basic riding at all three gaits. Students learn how to begin to put a horse on the bit and how to correctly and confidently ride basic dressage movements.
High Intermediate Riding
For riders with secure positions who are comfortable riding over a three-foot course. The class emphasizes maintaining proper position and balance at all gaits. Students learn to persuasively influence the horse’s movements through proper riding technique.
Intermediate Dressage (PE
For riders with some limited dressage experience. Students gain more confidence and skills controlling horses in all three gaits and correctly riding the dressage movements required at Training Level.
Advanced Riding (PE
For riders with confirmed, effective positions who are comfortable negotiating a 3’6” course of reasonable complexity. Students learn to refine their leg, seat, and hand aids to create harmonious communication with the horse on the flat and over fences.
Advanced Dressage (PE
For riders with significant dressage experience capable of executing all Training Level movements on a suitable horse. Riders should also be comfortable riding different mounts. Advanced riders gain improved understanding of forwardness, straightness, rhythm, obedience, and suppleness. The goal is to refine application of the aids through a balanced and effective seat.
Private and Semiprivate
Private and semiprivate lessons are available to students on a limited basis. Students may use their own horses or, depending on availability, may be able to use a Mount Holyoke school horse. These lessons must be arranged at or after the beginning of each semester with the instructor. Depending on instructor availability, students may arrange to receive physical education credits for a series of lessons.