First Step Program

For At-Risk Youth

The LOPE horses share much in common with young people from troubled situations. Because of that, LOPE has created a unique program to bring them both together. Our First Step Teaching Series is designed to introduce horsemanship to at-risk and disadvantaged youth. 

First Step Workshop

Students spend the session learning how to handle, groom and lead a horse.

In addition, they observe and participate in a training session with a horse at liberty (in a round corral with teacher supervision). The workshop demonstrates how to discern equine body language, individual horse personalities and safe ways to approach horses.

The First Step Workshop gives students an introduction to basic horsemanship principles on the ground (no riding is done). Sessions are 90 minutes for groups of 1-3 participants.  Longer, customized workshops can be designed for larger groups.

First Step Course

When workshop students are ready and curious to learn more about practical horsemanship

The course focuses on ground work, stewardship (vet, farrier care), barn skills, equipment (saddles/bridles) and training principles. Depending on student aptitude, the course may include a riding lesson (on experienced, gentle lesson horse).

There are multiple demonstrations by horse professionals (trainers, vet staff, farriers, barn managers), as well as possible opportunities to attend horse events (schooling show or clinic). Course consists of one 90 minute session per week for four weeks.

First Step Internship

The First Step Internship is a special program for students who have demonstrated a serious commitment to horsemanship

The interns will do barn and horse work in exchange for learning opportunities with the LOPE teachers and other horse industry professionals. Understanding the nature of the horse — and how to help the horse – is the key focus of the internship.

Practical skill development is emphasized in multiple subject areas (horse handling, show grooming, horse care, ground training and so on). Students who are accepted into the First Step Internship program are valued members of the LOPE team.

Intern duties revolve around the care of the LOPE horses and the development of their potential. LOPE requires a commitment of 4-6 hours per month from each intern for three months.

“The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu