Finally... Natural Horsemanship For Kids!

By Andrea Lyle

Horse crazy kids from all over the country descended upon Pagosa Springs, Colorado in 2003 for the first ever Kids with Horses Naturally Summer Courses.

Kids with Horses Naturally offers an innovative natural horsemanship program designed just for kids! They incorporate principles, used over the past 100 years by the great natural horsemen, and apply them in a fun, playful and safe environment.

Whether the kids brought their own horses or leased one at camp, the goal was the same, to build a better relationship with the horse based on loving communication using natural techniques.

If success is measured in happy, laughing, dirt-covered kids, and calm, relaxed horses then these camps were a resounding success. This is not to say there weren't frustrations and tears along the way, but the end result was kids begging for more by the end of the week. Who says kids can't stay focused for very long? These kids sure proved THAT theory wrong!

Some of the kids take a break from playing to smile for a photo.


Beginning each day at 8 am, the kids fed the horses and cleaned their paddocks. Classes started at 9 am and ran until 5pm.

Each day involved a variety of class situations beginning with indoor discussions and simulations, and then outside for grooming, ground instruction, games, and mounted instruction.

For a well-rounded horsemanship experience, some days included instruction by a farrier or a veterinarian as well as the regular class time. At day's end the kids groomed their horses, put them in their stalls and fed them before going home to rest up for another full day. Lunch and breaks are a welcome part of the day's activities. This time gives the students additional time to ask questions and discuss their particular situation with their instructors.

The farrier had a captive audience as he taught about the barefoot hoof.


Friday afternoons were especially exciting when family and friends arrived for a special demonstration. Each student attending was able to "show off" some of what he or she learned and amaze family and friends. And amaze they did!

On the playground are many opportunities to challenge you and your horse, like this little girl did on the steps!


One mom was so impressed with the program that she said, "What you are doing here is great! It is not just what these kids are learning about horses, but the life lessons! They are learning respect, that they have to finish something they start, how to overcome fear, I mean, these are lessons they can apply the rest of their lives!"

"Hey, where's my hay?" Bonding is an important part of any relationship!


Some of the kids attending had never been on a horse before. The transition from fear to fun didn't take long for any of them. They were able to learn about horses both on the ground and mounted, in a safe, yet fun environment, with encouragement all along the way.


"I love this camp and I want to come back for more!" S.B.

"I will definitely use what I learned here and I'm going to show my riding teacher in Texas too!" A.S.

"I can use these things with any horse and I think that is great. I think you should continue this program and I was wondering if I could come and visit the horses every so often?" A.M.

"I think camp should be longer." K.B.

The founders of Kids with Horses, Andrea Lyle and Kristi Sweney, have a strong desire to share the natural approach to horses with kids. "There just aren't enough natural programs out there focusing on kids. After waiting for years for someone to develop one, we finally decided to do it ourselves," says Andrea.

Having grown up in love with horses, both Andrea and Kristi understand the passion kids have toward these magnificent animals. Their goal is to channel the next generation of horsemen/ women in the natural direction.

"It needs to start now, not when they are adults having to unlearn unnatural things they were taught about horses, like we had to," says Kristi.

Both take their jobs as instructors seriously and are always continuing their own natural horsemanship education. While having fun is important, they are always conscious of safety. All the kids are treated like their own precious children.

Many students plan to come back again, which promises to make 2004 another fun and busy summer for Kids with Horses Naturally.

If you would like more information about their courses or their new Kids with Horses Naturally Club, you can contact them at:

Kids with Horses Naturally
PO Box 2917
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
(970) 731-4266 or 732-1944

About the author:

Andrea Lyle, one of the founders of Kids with Horses Naturally, is really just a horse crazy kid herself. Though her parents always thought she would outgrow her love for horses, the passion has never died over the last forty some years!