Whitemud Equine Learning Centre Association

Frequently Asked Questions - Riding Lessons

How can I introduce my child to riding?
At what age can my child begin riding lessons?
Does my child need to have a horse in order to ride, and is it possible to ride all year round?
How should I dress my child for a riding lesson?
What will my child learn in the Junior Rider program?
What are Off Horse lessons and is it important for my child to attend?
When will my child canter and/or jump?
What happens after Junior Rider?
What is the cost of a riding lesson?
What is the cost for day camp?
How can I know if the horses are in good health?
How do you choose the horse my child rides?
What is a TA-only horse?
What can I do as a parent to support my child?
How long does a riding lesson last?



How can I introduce my child to riding?

Your child dreams of horseback riding? Offer her the chance to taste the pleasure of riding by registering her in a day camp, a summer camp or a session of lessons. WELCA offers short-term programs which are a good introduction to horse riding for children 6+.

At our special events such as Hallowhinny and Family Day, WELCA offers pony rides for children ages 3 to 5. For $5 a ride, your child will have the chance to ride in a fun, safe environment.

At what age can my child begin riding lessons?

Your child is able to begin riding lessons at WELCA at the age of 6 in our Junior Rider program.

The Junior Rider program uses a combination of on and off horse instruction to teach the basics of horse care and riding. These 10-week programs are stand-alone courses. There is no automatic progression from one to the next; although many riders do choose to sign up for all three programs – if that is the case for the majority in the class, then the instructor will tailor the classes accordingly.

Does my child need to have a horse in order to ride, and is it possible to ride all year round?

The cost of a lesson includes the rental of the horse and equipment, as well as the instruction. All beginner lessons at WELCA take place in the indoor arena.

WELCA’s current facility is at capacity in terms of programming which means that we cannot offer programs year round.

Learn to Ride lessons are offered three times per year:

  • November – January;
  • February – March; and
  • July-August.

Junior Rider lessons are offered four times per year:

  • September – November;
  • February – April;
  • April – June; and
  • July-August.

In addition to the above programs, WELCA offers:

  • Day camps throughout July and August,
  • The Little Bits Therapeutic Riding Program for persons with disabilities runs in two sessions: from September to November and April to June, and
  • Our Horsemanship program which runs from September to June.

How should I dress my child for a riding lesson?

In order for your child to have a safe and agreeable experience, we suggest he / she wear comfortable but not baggy clothing. Take in account the temperature outdoors and dress in layers. Later, you can buy more specialized attire if you wish.

No noisy snow pants, no scarves, no long parkas or snowsuits. No sandals or open-toed shoes.

A hard-soled boot with a ½ inch heel is required. WELCA has boots in various sizes that can be borrowed for Learn to Ride, Junior Rider and Camp programs.

At all times, the protective equestrian helmet is mandatory. For the first lessons, WELCA will provide an ASTM approved equestrian helmet for your child’s use.

What will my child learn in the Junior Rider program?

All children in the Junior Rider program start out on a horse which is led by a parent or volunteer in the ring. This allows the child to concentrate on learning the skills they need to know to control the horse. The leader gives the rider the opportunity to learn with confidence.

The Junior Rider and Learn to Ride programs teach:

  • Safe handling of the horse on the ground and in the saddle
  • Mounting & dismounting
  • Proper position on the horse
  • Walk and trot
  • Stop
  • Emergency stop
  • Steering
  • Changing direction
  • Etiquette in the arena
  • Using skills to navigate patterns in the ring.

What are Off Horse lessons and is it important for my child to attend?

Off horse lessons are important for your child’s development as an equestrian. The off horse lessons teach children that there is more to owning a horse and horsemanship than riding. First and foremost, safety on the ground comes first. Then, they need to learn that a horse is not a pet and the requirements for owning a horse are a large responsibility.

When will my child canter and/or jump?

The Learn to Ride and Junior Rider programs are walk, trot only. This is because a child’s seat in the saddle is not developed enough to control and coordinate the horse and their aids at the canter.

Cantering begins in Level 2 Horsemanship. Jumping begins in Level 3 Horsemanship.

What happens after Junior Rider?

Between ages 6 and 8, your child may repeat the Junior Rider program as often as he/she wishes. For this age group, fun, repetition, self-esteem and confidence are the most important elements of learning.

After the age of 8, we suggest moving to the Learn to Ride program. After completion of at least one session of Learn to Ride, a student may go on the waiting list for the Horsemanship program.

The Horsemanship Program taught at WELCA is modeled on the Equine Canada Rider Program. Participants continue through 9 levels as they develop skills and experience. Each rider can seamlessly move from one level to the next based on his or her development as a rider. Every rider progresses at a different rate, and it is not uncommon to stay in a level for one to two years in order to strengthen a particular skill. The Horsemanship program runs in two 20-week semesters. The majority of students choose to ride for the full term (September – June).

It is theorized that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of training over 10 years to achieve the highest level of performance in equestrian sport.

What is the cost of a riding lesson?

For a group lesson, the cost for an hour is $55 (remember that your child will be at the stable for 2 hours once he/she starts tacking and grooming the horse before and after the lesson). The cost of a private lesson is $65.

What is the cost for day camp?

For a 5 day week, without snacks or lunch, the average cost is $350.

How can I know if the horses are in good health?

Healthy horses have bright eyes, mobile ears, a good body condition without being too fat, and a tendency to approach people.

How do you choose the horse my child rides?

The Lesson Program Manager, in consultation with Instructors, chooses the horses suitable for each program depending on their size and temperament. Within the individual class, the Instructor matches horse and rider. Different horses teach you different things.

WELCA has between 65 – 70 horses on site. 33 are lesson horses. The youngest lesson horse is nine years old. The oldest lesson horse is 34 and holding!

What is a TA-only horse?

While some horses do not mind being handled by anyone and everyone; others are more particular. There are lots of reasons for this: they may be shy, have sensitive skin or an old injury that is sore, or they may just not like to be handled in the stall. If that is the case, the horse required a more experienced handler and the Teaching Assistant assigned to the class will do the grooming and tacking. This is for both the safety of the horse and the student.

What can I do as a parent to support my child?

A child is far more likely to participate in an activity if they are satisfying their own motives and have the support of their parents.

Parents can encourage the enjoyment and participation in horse riding in many ways. In fact, WELCA’s programs would not exist without the contributions of parents as volunteers, fundraisers and cheerleaders. Equestrian skills learned in childhood build foundations for enjoyment of sport and physical activity throughout life.

Here are some key suggestions to help you encourage your child:

  • Initially emphasize participation and completion rather than immediate success.
  • Don’t coach from the sidelines or second-guess the instructor – teach your child to listen to the instructor and ask questions if they don’t understand.
  • Ensure that your child participates in off horses lessons.
  • Keep your child’s motives and dreams separate from your own.
  • Encourage intrinsic rewards, improvement, and personal goals.
  • Allow your child to experience a large variety of activities before specializing.
  • Encourage your child to pursue their dreams.

How long does a riding lesson last?

In the Junior Rider program, the lesson runs for one hour. Each lesson includes some riding and some time devoted to learning to take care of the horse.

In the Learn to Ride and Horsemanship programs, your child will learn to take care of her horse up to ½ hour before and after the lesson. In this case, in addition to an hour for the actual lesson, your child will benefit from these extra moments of happiness with the horse. What a bonus to the lessons!




Still have a question? Contact us

Upcoming Events

Castle Pony Club Show

June 10/11
More information

Wildrose Schooling Shows

July 8/9

Pony Up Camp (M-F) SOLD OUT

July 3-7 Ages 4-6 in the morning / Ages 7-9 in the afternoon
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Horsing Around Camp (M-F)

July 10-14 Ages 9-14
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Horsing Around Camp (M-F) SOLD OUT

July 17-21 Ages 9- Adult

River Valley Horse Show

July 20-23

Horsing Around Camp (M-F) SOLD OUT

July 24-28 Ages 9-14
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Pony Club Show

July 29/30

Horsing Around Camp (M-F) SOLD OUT

August 7-11 Ages 9-14
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Edmonton Kennel Club Regional Dog Show

August 10-13

Pony Up Day Camp (M-F) SOLD OUT

August 14-18 Ages 4-9 in the morning / Ages 4-9 in the afternoon
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Pony Up 1/2 Day Camps SOLD OUT

August 21-25 Ages 4-9 in the morning / Ages 4-9 in the afternoon
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Advanced Equine Massage Course

Aug 07-Sept 15

Equine Massage Course

Sept 30-Oct 06

Whitemud Equine Centre Riding Arena – Grand Opening

October 21


Horse Racing Alberta

p. 780.435.3597
e. info@welca.ca

Map to WELCA