Starting Gate Program

For Future Horsemanship Leaders

There is a large gap in the horse industry for skilled horsemen and horsewomen. There are fewer people who have the horsemanship skills and patience to successfully bring along a green OTTB prospect. Because of that, OTTBs can end up in at-risk situations (via auctions and kill pen sales) — instead of being properly developed over time to become steady show or pleasure mounts.

The Starting Gate Program educates promising young equestrians and aspiring horse trainers in foundation horsemanship. In this way, we hope to encourage and support future horsemanship leaders in the professional horse industry.

Internships and Scholarships

Tailored learning paths

The Starting Gate program gives tailored learning paths to students passionate about horsemanship via internships and scholarships. Junior Internships are available for promising teenage equestrians. Horsemanship Scholar spots are awarded to aspiring young trainers.

The tradition of horsemanship teaches these values to our students:

Critical Thinking Skills
Emotional Discipline
Community Service
Practical Skill Building
Junior Internships

Junior Internships are offered to teen equestrians who have demonstrated a serious commitment to horsemanship, equitation and stewardship.

The internships are custom designed to meet the specific needs of each young student. Junior interns will work a set number of hours per month at LOPE. In exchange, they will receive lessons on retraining OTTBs, riding/showing opportunities with LOPE horses, scholarships for clinics/schooling shows and ongoing interaction with professionals in the horse industry. Internships are by invitation only at this time.

If you are interested in learning more (or have a teen you would like to nominate for consideration), please contact LOPE.

Horsemanship Scholars

Horsemanship Scholar spots are awarded to aspiring trainers with specific skills in colt starting and vaquero horsemanship.

They are shorter in duration than the Junior Internships. In exchange for training assistance with the LOPE horses, Horsemanship Scholars will receive opportunities to attend clinics with top horsemen and teachers. In addition, LOPE will provide a blog platform for the Horsemanship Scholars to share their training progress with the LOPE horses. Although not presently available, future Horsemanship Scholar opportunities may include include a longer-term commitment and a small stipend.

Scholar spots are available by invitation only at this time.


What past interns have learned

The importance of emotional discipline

“One of the most valuable things I’ve learned yet is how to control my emotions when working through challenges with a horse. Often times, before working with my current project horse Eli, I would find my self struggling to stay positive when I faced difficulties with my own horse.”

“Eli has helped me become a more patient person, and this reflects in my work with my own horse. Instead of immediately getting down on myself, or thinking negatively about my progress, I now have a positive mindset.”

“Working with LOPE is something that has improved not only my horsemanship abilities, but my character as a person. I have proven to myself that I am capable of things I didn’t really believe I could learn or accomplish at my age. I value each and every horse I have the opportunity to work with, because they are all unique and have their own personalities and backgrounds.”

Ground work and life principles

“Working with LOPE horses like Beau, Eli, Santo, Oro, and Sintra has taught me patience, timing, and groundwork. Each horse that comes through the LOPE program has a different lesson to teach – and by working with the horses, there is so much to be learned, not only about horsemanship, but also about life in general.”

“When I first became a LOPE intern, I practically knew nothing about groundwork. I not only have improved my groundwork, but everything I have learned has translated into what I do under western saddle — and has made me so much of a better rider.”

“Every single thing this internship has taught me will help me become a better friend, employee, horsewoman, and all around person.”

Helping a green horse gain confidence

“The LOPE internship gives me the ability to work on my analytical skills, patience and learn new techniques. I feel working with Lynn has given me the opportunity to contribute specifically to the progress of Oro Rush.”

“We had been working on his new job of “jumping” (which has been going over poles on the ground, but don’t tell him that since Oro thinks he is ready for Grand Prix).”

“The jump crew (aka Lynn) was assisting in setting the pole first as a half cross rail which Oro was excited about. He was picking up his feet beautifully. After a little practice, Lynn made it a vertical to see how that would go. The next thing we knew Oro had sailed over his first vertical and ended up cantering away after. I made sure to help him keep his confidence up – and we ended on a good session.”

“I am really excited to see when Oro Rush makes a positive break through and realizes he can be successful in his new job!”

Mutual respect between horse and rider

“So far with LOPE I have learned about the respect a human and horse should have for each other.”

“With my own personal horse, Wilson, I have been able to teach him some personal space exercises, especially while walking in hand. Just with some of these different exercises, I had felt a huge difference under saddle that I never felt before. He was more willing and we didn’t have to fight over certain things.”

“I never realized how ground work really affected under saddle work, until I was able to do it myself.”

Aspiring veterinarian

“One thing that Ms. Lynn taught me this semester was how to do flexions and find stiffness in the horses’ jaw. This helps the rider know which side might be stiffer for the horse.”

“My biggest take away from LOPE so far has been working with Elle. She is like my mare in many ways and it’s cool to see how much she has already progressed. I really enjoyed going to her vet exam and watching the ultrasound of her ovaries and uterus.” (Note: Cassie is interested in becoming a veterinarian one day. Like Elle, her mare Sasha has hormonal issues that affect her emotionally and physically.)


What intern parents say

“Working at LOPE has allowed Eliza to develop her own skills as a horsewoman while also learning to care for the wonderful LOPE horses so that they can begin a new chapter in their lives. When she works with the horses one-on-one to build their confidence, their strength — whatever that particular horse might need — Eliza really leans into her work and makes the most of the amazing opportunities LOPE provides.”
- Sage
“The internship with LOPE has given my daughter a unique opportunity to work on her horsemanship skills in a warm and accepting environment. Ms. Lynn’s demeanor and engagement with horses is a great role model for any youngster to witness and learn from.”
- Kim
“I love that this program helps teenagers to explore their passion and develop skills that will help them fulfill their dreams. LOPE has shown Daelynn there are many aspects of the equine industry, whether it is working with the horses directly, learning about veterinary care, or the aspects of how a non-profit can benefit in so many ways.”
- Melissa
“It has been so much fun watching Kaitlyn work with all the different horses and become more comfortable with her ground work. Also, because of LOPE, Kaitlyn was able to attend a horsemanship clinic, where she (and I) learned so much and had so much fun! I really appreciate Lynn and her dedication to the internship program, and I am so thankful for the trust and time she has invested in Kaitlyn!"
- Keri