No riding experience required

Rookie Riders is specifically designed to teach all the skills necessary to safely mount and dismount a horse…

…before being introduced to a horse for the first time!

Leading edge curriculum designed collaboratively with experts in both physical literacy and equestrian development includes

  • Horse inspired activities and games

  • Ground-based skills

  • A “barrel horse”
  • A series of sample lesson plans, supported with video and written instructions hosted in an interactive app to help students progress systematically

The progression goes from ground-based skills, to mounted skills, to mounted skills on a horse uses a combination of barrel and ground-based activities and games as an introduction to riding.

Prepares riders for their first mounted lessons before ever stepping foot in a barn

An appropriate progression that starts riders on their way to completing Equestrian Canada’s Learn to Ride – English or Western Level 1

Participants Learn About


  • Learn about horses and how to safely interact with them

Fundamental Movement Skills

  • Develop Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) necessary for riding by engaging students physically, mentally, and emotionally in individual and group activities

Fundamental Sport Skills

  • Learn to safely mount and dismount
  • Develop ability to maintain a balanced and relaxed position with proper posture while mounted
  • Become comfortable changing into a variety of positions and holds while mounted

Develop a foundation towards Equestrian Canada Learn to Ride – English or Western Level 1 Test

Designed with flexibility in mind

KidsZone … Physical Education/Recreation … Riding Facilities … Camps

  • Designed to be delivered to large groups of children
  • Intended to be flexible in its delivery
  • Can be customized to meet needs of specific groups

Instructors and facilities may tailor the program to meet needs of the students or facility but are encouraged to follow the general skill progression presented in sample lesson plans.

Offer the Program

  • Lead instructors must complete the Rookie Riders Training and have an active NCCP Certification or be an accredited physical education teacher to deliver the program.
  • Training is divided in two 1 day workshops – an unmounted and a mounted workshop
  • Instructors can deliver in non-equestrian environment having only completed the unmounted workshop
  • Assistant coaches are not required to be certified but must have completed the unmounted workshop to support. If assisting in program with horses, assistants should have their EC Rider Level 6 – English/Rider Level 4 Western OR have participated in the mounted Rookie Riders workshop.

Get Involved

To learn more about taking the training, hosting the Rookie Riders in your facility or to find a program near you, please contact your Provincial/Territorial Equestrian Organization or submit an information request using the following form:

Please note, the Rookie Rider training materials and workshop are currently only available in English, materials are currently being translated.


Rookie Riders is an evolution of the First Gate program, first developed as an introductory program for Vaulting. It has been developed by Ontario Equestrian in partnership with Equestrian Canada and member provincial/territorial sport organizations as part of the Canadian Equestrian Development Project to delivered by riding facilities across Canada.