AKF "Horsemanship Classes"
Horse Riding Instructions


"Horse Breeds" in the United States

AKF "Horsemanship Classes"

AKF's Horsemanship Program is designed for Adults & Children ages 8 and up. There are 3 levels, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Each level is 2 weeks and meets on Sunday's from 11am to 1pm. For more information on our Horsemanship Program please contact our office at 630-325-3482.

Gift Certificates
Riding Instructions & AKF Horsemanship
Arabian Knights Farms and Training Center

AKF Riding Instruction at $40/half hour,
Horsemanship Classes $140 4hr Course and a Horsemanship Manual for each Student.

Call 630-325-3482 to order Gift Certificates or sign up for Horsemanship Classes if your Park District is not offering this Horsemanship Class at this time.

AKF "Horsemanship Classes"
Offered in 21 Park Districts

Darien Park District
133 Plainfield Road Darien, IL 60561
Downers Grove Pk Dist
935 Maple Avenue
Downers Grove, IL
Hinsdale Park Dist.
19 E Chicago Avenue
Hinsdale, IL 60521
Burr Ridge Park Dist.
10 S 474 Madison St.
Burr Ridge, IL, 60521
Elmhurst IL. Residents
Call Arabian Knights
Lombard Park Dist. 227 Wst Parkside
Lombard IL. 60148
Willowbrook Par Dist.
7760 Quincy Street
Woodridge Park Dist.
2600 Center Drive
Woodridge, IL 60517
Clarendon Hills Dist.
1 N Prospect
Clarendon Hills, IL
Villa Park, Park Dist.
338 North Iowa
Villa Park, IL.
Western Springs Dist.
Western Springs, IL.
Westchester Pk Dist.
10201 Bond Street
Westchester, IL.60154
Westmont Park Dist.
75 E Richmond
Westmont, IL 60559
La Grange Park Dist.
920 Barnsdale Road
La Grange Park, IL
Pleasantdale Pk Dist.
7425 S Wolf Road
Burr Ridge, IL 60525
Addison Park
Addison IL. 605
Lisle Park District
1825 Short St.
Lisle, IL. 60532
Lemont Park District Lemont IL. 630-257-6787
Oak Brook Park Dist.
Oak Brook, IL 60521 Call Arabian Knights
Bensenville Park Dist.
Bensenville, IL. 630-766-7015
Brookfield Park Dist.
8820 Brookfield Brookfield, IL. 60513708-485-7344

AKF Horsemanship Classes

Arabian Knights Farms Horsemanship Program

Level l - Level ll - Level lll

Level One "Beginner"
Anatomy, Breeds, Colors and Markings, Safety and Handling, Grooming and Hoof Care, Western Tack, and English Tack.

Level Two "Intermediate"
Gaits of the Horse, Western Riding, English Riding, Games on Horseback. Focus on steering and basic control of the horse at walk and trot.

Level Three "Advanced"
Continued English riding with a focus on balance exercises and patterns. Feed and nutrition, veterinary care, clipping and grooming for a show, care of tack and equipment.

Private Lessons

When riders complete all three levels to the satisfaction of the instructors they can be placed in the private lesson program. Private lessons are offered in western, huntseat, saddleseat, and dressage seven days a week. Lessons are scheduled individually with one of AKF's instructors once a week. Some students will need to repeat the advanced classes more than once, but ground classes are rotated to avoid repetition.

Horsemanship Classes

The primary focus of all the horsemanship classes is the safety and enjoyment in working with Arabian horses. In order to pass into private lessons students will be able to steer at the walk and posting trot, including completing circles and passing. After finishing the horsemanship classes they will take one tacking lesson to review the level one material and familiarize them with tack room and location of lesson horses.

In addition to specialized instruction, private lesson students are able to enter AKF horse shows, lease a show horse, and eventually they can purchase their own horse to ride and show. Showing is not required, and often AKF riders will attend mounted games, and clinics.

Arabian Knights Farms is dedicated to youth and amateur involvement with Arabian horses. Working with our Arabian horses is enjoyment for the entire family.

Introduction for Parents


Many families are looking for entertainment they can enjoy together. Few outdoor activities are more enjoyable and entertaining than riding, training, and caring for a horse. This activity promotes exercise and teaches responsibility and compassion with the added benefit of family togetherness.

The horse holds fascination and intrigue for people throughout the world. This animal is beautiful, but bewitching, captivating, yet cautious, loving, but leery, and trusting, yet timid. Few animals offer such variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and uses. Horses are no longer used to carry warriors off to battle, or to carry mail bags across miles and miles of treacherous terrain, but they are finding a very special place in many people's lives.


However, all of these important attributes can be lost through a lack of knowledge. An uninformed handler can unintentionally cause many negative experiences for himself and the horse. The time you and your child spend learning about equine behavior, proper care, and owner responsibilities will greatly increase your chances for a successful, positive experience. You can also save money when buying tack, building fences, and buying the horse suited to your needs, if you understand what you should purchase and why.


After successfully completing this study your child will receive a beautiful personalized Certificate of Achievement. Parents are sometimes reluctant to venture into horse ownership, realizing the child may lose interest. The enthusiasm your child shows in learning about the horse will help you decide if his or her interest will be lasting.
Knowledge promotes self confidence Specialized knowledge in one area can add to a child's confidence in other areas. You need not have a horse to benefit from these lessons. Lessons are written simply and should be understood by children eight years of age or older.

"AKF's Horsemanship Program" will include Equine Education in the Following Areas:
Horse Breeds

A breed of horses may be described as those horses which have a common origin and possess distinctive, well-fixed characteristics that are not common to other horses. Foundation stock for breeds of the United States were primarily imported from Europe. However, few of today's breeds were imported to this country; but rather, Americans have developed many different breeds from this foundation stock. Most light horses have been developed in America. Horses are usually divided into three major divisions: light horses, draft horses, and ponies.
By far the greatest numbers of horses fall into the light class. Usually this category includes horses measuring 14.2 hands or more and weighing 900 to 1400 pounds. These horses are used for driving, riding, racing, and general uses which require more speed and agility than draft horses or ponies could offer.
Ponies usually measure fewer than 14.2 hands and may weigh from 500 to 900 pounds, but some small horses of light breeds may also fall into this category. A pony's height should be stated in inches, while a horse's height is referred to in hands. When measuring, always measure at the highest point of the withers.

The Beautiful "Arabian Horse"

Arabians are said to be the foundation for nearly every light horse breed. Arabians usually range in height from 14.1 to 15.1 hands and weigh between 900 and 1100 pounds. They are somewhat smaller than most general purpose riding horses. Many characteristics set the Arabian apart from other breeds. It has a classic dished face or straight profile, wide set large eyes, small muzzle, large nostrils, high arch to the neck and tail, and the croup is long and comparatively level relative to most other breeds. Most purebred Arabians have 23 instead of the normal 24 vertebrae; this makes them close coupled and capable of carry heavy loads without back trouble. Arabians are usually bay, grey, chestnut, and occasionally black. They have great stamina and toughness which makes them especially good horses for endurance riding. They are extremely versatile and can perform as well as the average of nearly all other light horse breeds in all areas. They are also used for show because of their beauty, refinement, and eloquence.

Anatomy of the Arabian Horse

Draft Horse Breed

Clydestale Gelding

Draft horses usually range from 14.2 hands to 17.2 hands and weigh 1400 pounds or more. They are less capable of speed but possess great strength for drawing heavy loads.


The Thoroughbred was developed mainly from the Arabian. Thoroughbreds were developed for racing distances of ¾ mile to 1 ½ miles. They range in size from about 14.2 to 17 hands and weigh from 700 to 1400 pounds. The majority, however, range from 15.1 to 16.2 hands and weigh from 900 to 1150 pounds. Colors will usually be bay, brown, chestnut, grey or black. Most thoroughbreds tend to have a long forearm and gaskin, smooth muscling, and especially powerful rear quarters. They usually have lean frames and fine skin.

Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse Association is the fastest growing horse registry in the world. There are two general types of Quarter Horses. The more recently developed racing type has in past years become more lean and suited to speed through the infusion of Thoroughbred breeding. The older, working type used for ranch work and pleasure riding usually has shorter legs and is more heavily muscled than the racing type. This working type makes an ideal cow horse because it is strong, agile, and capable of great speed for short distances. Quarter Horses average about 15 hands in height and usually weigh between 1000 and 1200 pounds. Quarter Horses are popular in activities such as barrel racing, trail rides, calf roping, jumping, pole bending, working hunter, and showing. Their gentle disposition has also made them a favorite of many people who enjoy having a horse in the back yard.

American Saddlebred

The American Saddlebred is an American creation that evolved due to needs of residents of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri. They were especially adapted to long journeys over plantations and hilly grazing areas. These horses are used in saddleseat, harness, and pleasure riding. They are comfortable riding horses with great style and animation. Distinguishing characteristics include a clean head, long graceful neck, level croup, and high set tail.

Common Horse Colors

Bay - Bay horses have a brown coat and black mane, tail, and lower part of their legs.

Brown - Brown horses have a dark brown coat, sometimes almost black, with brown hairs in their flank areas, muzzle, and around their eyes.

Black - Black horses are completely black with no brown hairs in their coat.

Buckskin - Buckskin horses are a light tan or golden brown with black mane, tail, and legs.

Chestnut - Horses that are chestnut range in shade from a reddish-brown to dark brown. Chestnut horses will always have a mane and tail color that is the same shade as their coat or lighter. Their manes and tails are never black in color.

Palomino - The golden horse, or palomino, has a coat the color of golden brown or yellow. Their mane and tail will be white or light cream.

Grey - Horses that are born black, dark brown or chestnut that lighten with age are called grey. Their coats typically dapple as they grow older until they appear to be white. Horses with reddish-brown "freckles" are called flea-bitten grey. Horses that have a rosy hue to their dapples are called rose grey. Grey horses have dark grey or black skin under their coat.

White - White horses are very rare and must be born white with pink skin.

Appaloosa - Appaloosa-colored horses are characterized by their spotted coats. They can have several different patterns. Blanket appaloosas have a "blanket" of white over their rump which may have small spots the same color their coat. Leopard patterned horses have a white coat with brown or black spots spread over their coat. Appaloosa-colored horses have striped hooves and mottled pink and grey skin on their muzzles.

Pinto - Pinto horses typically fall into two main patterns: tobiano and overo. Pinto horses have larger spots than appaloosas. They are often described in terms of their base color and their pattern, for example bay overo or chestnut tobiano. Many breeds of horses can have pinto coats.

Face Markings

Leg Markings

Basic Horse Terminology

Measuring Your Horse

Horses are measured in hands. A hand is equal to four inches. Horses are measured from the ground to the highest point of their withers. The withers are located at the base of their neck. A pony's height is often listed in inches because they can be no taller than 14.2 hands or 58 inches.

Horses, Ponies, and Miniature Horses

Ponies are not just small or baby horses. They have different body proportions than an adult horse. Despite their small stature they are very strong. Miniature horses are full grown horses that measure 36 inches or smaller at the withers. They are proportioned like full-sized horses instead of ponies. They are commonly used for driving.

Horse Gender and Age

A baby horse is called a foal. Baby boy horses are referred to as colts and baby girl horses are called fillies. Adult male horses are called stallions or geldings; mares are adult female horses. Most horses begin training for riding when they are between two and four years of age. Horses are considered full grown by the time they about six years old. With improved health and nutrition care, modern horses can live well into their twenties or thirties.

Equine Eyesight

It is very important for your safety and the safety of your horse that you understand that the equine may not view the world exactly as you do. Scientists now know a great deal about how the horse's eye is constructed and how it operates, but research is somewhat inclusive as to whether or not the horse can see colors.
The actual physical makeup of the eye seems to be the key as to how a horse views its surroundings. The eye contains three layers of tissue. The innermost layer is called the retina, which is actually a huge network of specialized nerve cells, or receptors. There are two types of receptors in the retina known as cones and rods, and each has a very different and important function.
When human eyes observe an object, the image of this object is actually focused on millions of these cones and rods. The rods in the retina are very sensitive to movement, and they require very little light to form and image with limited detail. The rods are used in twilight to see outlines of objects, but not detail or color.
The cones are used for seeing detail and color. Cones allow us to focus accurately enough to read. However, a large amount of light is needed for the cones to function and this explains why most of us cannot see well at night.
Studies have found that the retina of a horse's eye is made up primarily of rods, which allow a very broad field of vision with much less detail than our human eyes can distinguish. It seems appropriate that a broad field of vision, which is also very sensitive to movement, would have been vital for the survival of wild horses in spotting possible predators, even at night.
The horse's eye is slower to adapt to light and dark than other animals. Remember this fact when loading a horse into a dark trailer. In any situation where light adaptation is needed, allow the horse a few minutes to adjust to the new lighting, especially if your horse seems frightened or apprehensive.
The appearance and placement of the eyes is very important, and can also affect the horse's field of vision. The eyes should be large and prominent and placed more to the sides of the head. They should also appear attentive, brilliant, and friendly. This placement of the eyes is also responsible for the broad field of vision which makes it nearly impossible to sneak up on a horse.
The blind spot due to eye placement extends about four feet in front of the horse. The space between each horse's eyes determines how far that horse's frontal blind spot will extend. The horse with narrow head will have a shorter blind spot.

Horses cannot see their own front feet or what they are eating, and their eyes also focus differently than ours. Our eyes automatically adjust for distances. However, a horse has to raise and lower it automatically adjust for distances. However, a horse has to raise and lower its head in order to see objects in their proper focus. Light enters the eye lens and is focused on the retina. The ciliary muscle surrounding the lens adjusts the lens shape; consequently the eye can focus on subjects at various distances. Watch a horse as it looks at an object up close and at a distance; note the characteristic change in head position.
When a horse stands naturally without an exceptionally high or low head carriage, its body blocks off its vision to the rear. This fact should always be carefully considered by everyone having contact with horses. Should it kick at a sudden unexpected noise, it is not the fault of the horse, but of the handler.
Along with the horse's wide range of vision, the equine also has a unique combination of monocular and binocular vision. The horse possesses binocular vision when both eyes are focused on a subject in front. Binocular vision is being used when the horse is attentive, with ears forward as he examines an object in the foreground. The horse also has the ability to see with each eye independently. This is called monocular vision. The field of monocular vision is limited by eye position and the animal's own body. Although monocular vision is limited, movement is readily detected. When an object is seen in the monocular field of vision, the horse will usually turn its head and focus on the object with both eyes. Changing from monocular to binocular vision can cause objects to seemingly jump and the horse may unexplainably spook. Horses cannot focus with binocular and monocular vision at the same time; consequently, it is very important to have their attention when working around them. Most experienced horse persons talk constantly to their horses; the horses are aware of the handler's location and are less apt to be taken by surprise.

Always remember, a horse's vision is restricted directly in front and in the rear, but it has exceptionally good hearing. Always speak to a horse as you approach to avoid startling it. A horse may kick if it is not forewarned of your presence; approach at an angle from the near side, never directly from the front or rear.
If your horse should spook, lunge, or pull back, do not reprimand with a whip. Punishment will only cause more fear and confusion for your horse. Speak quietly and confidently while trying to reassure him that all is well. The horse may have reacted with fear only because it was unable to see clearly at that moment.
The horse's eyesight is totally unlike ours. Using monocular vision the horse can focus one eye forward and one eye backward so it can watch for danger in two directions simultaneously. It can see in front, to the side, and behind, all at the same time, the only exception being front and rear blind spots.
Since the horse does not have exceptional depth perception, it becomes understandable when it may "spook" at a shadow or harmless piece of paper. A horse should not be forced into doing something that it considers dangerous. Allow time for the horse to investigate and see things in the proper light and focus. The handler's reassurance in these situations will do much to build a bond of confidence between horse and handler.

The Horse's Range of Vision

1. Blind Spot
2. Frontal Blind Spot (over 4 foot is blurred)
3. Clear Vision
4. Blurred
5. Blind Spot
6. Monocular, One-Eyed Vision
7. Rear Vision
8. Field of Clear Vision
9. Somewhat Limited
10. Vision Distorted

Horse Safety

When working around your horse keep in mind that their eyesight is different than ours and that they cannot see directly in front of their nose or directly behind their tail. Always stand close to the horse so you will not feel full impact of a kick or far back out of kicking range. Talking to your horse as you approach will help them focus on you as their handler and avoid startling them. Horses will kick out in fear, not because they are being malicious.
You should never crawl under a horse's belly. When working around a horse never kneel or sit on the ground near their feet. If they become startled they may step on you accidentally. You never want to leave a horse unattended if they are cross-tied in an aisle. You should always wear shoes with a hard sole; you should never wear open-toed shoes like sandals when working around horses. When working with your horse, move slowly, confidently, and talk to your horse so he is aware of where you are and what you are doing.

Catching Your Horse
1. When carrying your horse's halter, never allow the lead rope or halter to drag on the ground. You or your horse could trip over them.
2. As you approach your horse, say their name so they will acknowledge you. Most horses look forward to seeing their handlers and will approach if they know you are there.
3. Place the halter on the horse's head by pulling it over his nose first and then taking the crown piece over and around his ears. Buckle or snap the halter so that you can comfortably put your fist between your horse's jowl and the halter.

Leading Your Horse Safely
1. Always lead your horse from his left side. Stand between his neck and shoulder just under an arm's length away from him.
2. Hold the lead rope with your right hand under the snap attached to the halter and the remaining lead rope folded into your left hand.
3. Never coil or wrap the lead rope around your hands. If your horse spooks you could be dragged.
4. If your horse spooks or is nervous, talk to him quietly to reassure him.
5. Remember: you are in charge of keeping track of your feet. Your horse will not purposely step on your toes, but they cannot see your feet.
6. If you want your horse to walk, you should walk. To ask him to stop, say "whoa" and stop walking.
7. Always look where you want your horse to walk and not at the ground.
8. To pass a horse that is in cross-ties, wait for the other horse's handler to remove the cross-tie and move their horse over to allow enough space for you and your horse to walk safely by.
9. Never lead your horse under cross-ties.
10. Ask permission before leading your horse near a group of people.

Working Safely Around Your Horse

1. Always let the horse know what you intend to do.
2. Pet a horse by first placing your hand on his shoulder and neck. Do not pat the end of his nose.
3. Work around your horse from a position as near the shoulder as possible.
4. Always walk around the horse. Do not step over or under the lead rope or his neck.
5. Tie your horse far enough away from strange horses so they cannot fight.
6. Riders and attendants should not be loud or rowdy. Noise makes a horse jumpy and nervous both on the ground and under saddle.

Grooming Your Horse
Good grooming is essential to the health and appearance of all horses. Grooming cleans the hair and the pores of the skin. This results in a cleaner and healthier skin which is less likely to become infested with skin parasites. Good vigorous grooming massages the body muscles underneath the skin and thus improves their condition or fitness. Proper feeding must accompany regular grooming in order to present your horse looking his very best. While grooming your horse you should take note of any rubs, scratches, or wounds that may need medical attention. When you are finished grooming your horse should have a clean mane and tail and a shine to his coat.

Steps in Routine Grooming

1. With all brushes always keep your free hand on your horse so they know where you are. Talk to your horse when approaching his blind spots to avoid startling him. Never sit or kneel on the ground; instead, bend at your waist to brush his legs and belly.
2. Start your grooming with the rubber currycomb. Use this brush in a circular massaging motion on your horse's neck, shoulders, body, and rump. Never use the curry on the legs or head. Currying your horse will bring all the dirt and loose hair to the surface of the horse and will give the horse's muscles a massage. This helps prepare him for exercise and stimulates the growth of his coat.
3. Second, use the rubber mitt all over his body. Use this brush in the same circular motion as the curry. Most horses will allow you to use the rubber mitt on their face and legs. If your horse is more sensitive or nervous, do not try to brush his face except with a soft face brush. The rubber mitt should help remove any dirt or shavings from your horse's legs.
4. Third use the stiff (or hard) body brush. As with the curry you will not use this brush on your horse's legs or head. Use this brush starting at the top of the neck and brush in short strokes towards your horse's tail in the direction of the hair growth. You should see the dirt and hair flick off his coat.
5. Next you should use the finishing (or soft) brush. This brush can be used on your horse's head, legs, and body. Use this brush in the same motion as the hard brush. When you are done with the soft brush your horse's coat should look shiny and dirt free.
6. Now that your horse's body is clean, you need to clean out his feet with the hoof pick. Stand at your horse's shoulder (for front feet) and hip (for hind feet) facing his tail. Run your free hand down his leg and squeeze just above the fetlock. When your horse picks up his leg, gently hold his hoof with one hand and pick the dirt and debris with the hoof pick. Make sure to keep your feet clear of your horse's feet and do not wrap your fingers around his hoof. Always remove all dirt and rocks from your horse's feet to avoid infections and bruising. Allow your horse to put his leg down slowly when you are finished. Horses that slam their hooves down are more likely to step on your toes.
7. Last you should brush or pick out your horse's mane and tail. If your horse's tail is full of tangles or dirt, spray a conditioner or detangler in it to avoid ripping out his tail hair with the hairbrush. To remove knots use your fingers to separate the hairs and remove loose shavings. Finish by combing the mane and tail so it lies flat and smooth.

Care of the Horse's Feet

Importance of Foot Care

The value of a horse depends on his ability to perform work. To this end, four sound feet are indispensable. Oddly enough, foot troubles and the necessity for shoeing are largely man-made.
The important points in the care of a horse's feet are to keep them clean, prevent them from drying out, and trim them so they retain proper shape and length. You should learn the names for the parts of a horse's foot.
Each day, clean the feet of the horses that are shod, stabled, or used. Use the hoof pick for cleaning. Work from the heel toward the toe. Be sure to clean out the depressions between the frog and bars. While you are cleaning the feet, inspect for loose shoes and thrush. Thrush is a disease of the foot characterized by a pungent odor. It causes a softening of tissues in the cleft of the frog and bars. This disease produces lameness and, if not treated, can be serious.
Hooves occasionally become dry and brittle. Dry, brittle hooves may split and produce lameness. The frog loses its elasticity and no longer is effective as a shock absorber. If the dryness is prolonged, the frog shrinks in size and the heel contracts. Dry hooves usually can be prevented by keeping the ground wet around the watering tank. After the hoof has absorbed enough moisture, brush on a hoof dressing.
Trim the feet so that the horse stands square and plumb. This will alleviate strain on the tendons and help prevent deformity, improper action, and unsoundness. The healthy hoof grows 3/8 to ½ inch per month. If the hoof is not trimmed, the wall will break off and will not wear evenly. To prevent this, you should trim the hooves regularly, about once every six weeks, whether the horse is shod or not.
Incorrect foot posture is caused by hooves grown too long either in toe or heel. The slope is considered normal when the toe of the hoof and the pastern have the same angle. This angle should be kept always in mind and changed only as a corrective measure. If it should become necessary to correct uneven wear of the hoof, correct gradually over a period of several trimmings.

Reasons for Shoeing

Shoeing is a necessary evil. Nailing an iron plate to a horse's foot does not making walking easier for him. The added weight of a shoe does not make for agility. While the foot and leg are engineered to minimize shock and road concussion, shoeing only increases them. Nail holes made in attaching the shoe help to weaken the hoof wall and may provide entries for infection or separation.
Allowing a horse to wear the same shoes too long also invites trouble. Since the hoof wall grows out perpendicularly to the coronary band, the horse's base of support actually grows out from under him if shoes are left on too long,. This transfers excessive strain to the flexor tendons. Shoes worn too long grow thin and become loose, bend dangerously and may shift, causing shoe-nail punctures.
Shoes protect the hoof against excessive wear when unusual work is required. They provide better traction under unfavorable conditions of terrain, such as ice and mud. They help correct defects of stance or gait, often making it possible for an unsound horse to render satisfactory service. Shoes may be used to help cure disease or defective hooves; they also may be used to afford relief from pain of injured hoof parts.
You should shoe horses that will be used on hard surfaces to prevent the wall from wearing down to the sensitive tissues beneath. A correctly shoed horse is more efficient performer. Shoes may be used to change gaits and action, to correct faulty hoof structure or growth, and to protect the hoof itself.
Shoeing always should be done by a farrier who is thoroughly experienced in the art. Shoes should be made to fit the foot, not the foot to the shoe. Reshoe or reset at approximately six week intervals. If you leave shoes on too long the hoofs grow out of proportion. This may throw the horse off balance.

Tack and Equipment

Your horse needs daily care, and so does the equipment you will use on him. Tack is a general term that refers to all equipment you use on and around your horse. Your horse's halter, lead rope, saddle, and bridle all fall in the category of tack.

Most tack is either made of leather or is synthetic. Synthetic tack is easier to care for, but may not last as long as leather tack or hold its resale value. Most synthetic tack can be cleaned with just water and a mild soap. Leather tack needs careful maintenance, but well-cared for leather equipment can last a lifetime. After each use you should wipe down your leather equipment to remove sweat, dirt, and hair. Periodically use a leather conditioner and/or glycerin saddle soap to replenish the leather's moisture balance and protect the leather. Buffing your equipment with a soft cloth will give it a nice shine and return it to looking brand new. You should clean your horse's bit off after every ride with warm water and a towel. Never soak your leather equipment in water or oil; the stitching will become weak and break. When cleaning your tack check for loose stitching or cracking. Have all equipment repaired immediately if you find any weak spots to avoid accidents while working with your horse.

The placement of your tack is very important. We want both the horse and rider to be comfortable and enjoy themselves during a ride. For the security of the horse, always try to tack him in the same order every time you ride. Sudden changes in equipment should be avoided to keep your horse from becoming nervous or agitated. If you feel you need to change the fit or type of tack you are using, consult your instructor or trainer for assistance. They will help you adjust the tack to fit your horse and help your horse get used to the new equipment.

Leg Protection
Horses sometimes will need to have their legs protected during exercise. Boots, wraps, and bandages are all general types of leg equipment. The three popular types of leg protection are splint boots, polo wraps, and bell boots. Boots and wraps are typically used to make sure the horse does not injure themselves with their other legs. Bandages are used over wounds to keep them clean.

Splint Boots protect the cannon and splint bones in the horse's legs. They should be placed so the thicker part is on the inside of their legs. Splint boots for front legs typically have three straps, and boots for hind legs will have four because the bones in the hind legs are longer and require larger boots

Polo Wraps are long fleece strips that are wrapped around the horse's legs to protect them from interference of the other legs. They come in many colors and can be used on front or back legs. Care should be taken to wrap them consistently on each leg to avoid injury to tendons and keep them from coming loose while riding.

Bell Boots are typically used over the front hooves of the horse. Some horses will overstep with their hind legs and clip or catch their hind toes on their front shoes. In some cases, this causes the horse to trip or pull off a front shoe. Bell boots are typically made of rubbery material and fit over the horse's coronet and hoof. They provide a barrier to keep the horse's heels and shoes safe.

When putting on leg protection never sit or kneel on the ground. Always stand and bend from your waist. If your horse should become startled he could step on you if you are sitting by his legs. If your horse is not used to wearing leg protection, have your instructor help you put the boots or wraps on.


There are many types of saddles used in riding horses. The two main types are English and Western. The types of saddles have evolved over the centuries to accommodate human and horse needs depending on the type of work to be performed by the horse and rider.
Regardless of what style you choose to ride, you should make sure your saddle fits you and your horse. A saddle that is too narrow on your horse will pinch his withers and cause him to buck from the pain. A saddle whose seat is too large will make it hard for you to keep your correct riding position and comfort in the saddle.

Great care should be taken when fitting a bridle and bit to your horse. A combination that is too strong will cause a nervous horse and a difficult ride. Different styles of riding require different types of bridles to be used on your horse. Most horses are comfortable to go in a simple snaffle bridle and plain cavesson, or noseband.

Process of Tacking: After you have thoroughly groomed your horse and cleaned his feet you are ready to tack him up to ride. Always have all your equipment out before you bring your horse into the aisle so you do not leave him alone in the cross-ties. Saddles should be placed on a saddle rack or on the ground pommel side down with the seat up against the wall. Bridles, girths, and martingales should be hung up and kept off the ground. All tack except boots should be put on from the left side of the horse.

1. Put your horse's leg protection on first. AKF school horses all wear splint boots on their front legs. They should be fastened securely with the Velcro tabs pointing towards the horse's tail.
2. Put your horse's martingale on next by unclipping the snap and wrapping it around his neck. The snap and buckles should always face away from the horse to avoid rubbing of his coat.
3. Place the saddle pad or saddle blanket on your horse's back. Make sure it is even on both sides.
4. Next put the saddle gently on your horse's back on top of the saddle pad. Make sure it fits just behind his withers and shoulders. A saddle sitting on top of your horse's shoulders will make it hard for him to move properly while riding.
5. Fasten the saddle with a girth (English) or cinch (Western). English girths should be fastened on the right side first with the non-elastic end. Pass the girth or cinch through the martingale loop before buckling on the left side.
6. Tighten the cinch or girth enough so the saddle will not move or slip. Avoid pulling it completely tight in the aisle or your horse may become cinchy or grumpy in the aisle while tacking. You will make the last adjustments just before getting on your horse.
7. Before you bridle you will want to put on your helmet.
8. To bridle your horse you will first remove one cross-tie from his halter. Then unclip the halter and place it around your horse's neck. Never have two cross-ties on your horse's halter while it is around his neck because he could choke. Calmly bridle your horse by putting the bit in his mouth with one hand and pulling the crown piece over his ears. Make sure the noseband and throatlatch (if there is one) are fastened before removing the last cross-tie and halter.
9. Hang up your halter on a hook or place it in your grooming bucket so you can find it when you return from your ride.
10. Lead your horse from the left side with the reins in both hands.


Two Methods of Putting on a Bridle

"Untacking" Your Horse

1. After you return to the aisle from your ride, put your horse's halter around his neck and fasten one cross-tie.
2. Remove his bridle, but make sure you allow him to drop the bit gently. Allowing the bit to clang on your horse's teeth will make him harder to bridle the next time.
3. Put the bridle over your arm and re-halter your horse. Attach the second cross-tie to secure your horse in the aisle again.
4. Remove the saddle and saddle pad together after you have hung up your bridle.
5. Take off your horse's martingale.
6. Remove the splint boots.
7. Now it is time to groom your horse again and clean his feet.
8. After your horse is clean and cooled-out he can go back to his stall for some fresh water and a carrot.
9. Before leaving, make sure you put all your equipment neatly away and sweep up any dirt or mess from your horse.

Parts of the Western Saddle

Types of Western Saddles

General Purpose Saddle: This saddle is used for pleasure and trail riding outside the show ring. The swells and cantle are usually high, forming a deep seat, and the horn is generally smaller than that found on a roping saddle. The general purpose saddle is lighter weight than the roping or equitation saddle.

Roping Saddle: The roping saddle is a heavy-duty saddle with thicker, stronger leather than is used in the construction of general purpose saddles. The horn of the roping saddle is the largest of the three types of western saddles in terms of diameter and height. The swells and cantle are lower to permit the rider to dismount quickly at high speed. Most ropers wrap the horns of these saddles with cotton rope or strips of rubber to control rope slippage.

Equitation Saddle: This saddle is built for use in the show ring and is decorated with silver conchos, horn cap, skirt corners, cantle plate, and silver lacing. The saddle horn is smaller than that found on a roping saddle. The swells are small to medium and the cantle is of medium height. The rear half of the seat is deep with the front portion built up to put the rider in balance with the horse.

Western Equipment

Standard Cinch: The best standard cinch is thirty inches long, made of seventeen braided mohair cords, attached at each end to rings. Mohair cord of a different color is woven across the length-wise cords in three to seven places. Since this feature keeps the main cords side by side, the more cross-woven sections, the better.

Roping Cinch: This cinch is generally a wider version of the standard cinch, especially in the central section. This is due to the addition of several more length-wise strands to distribute pressure over a larger area of the heartgirth.

Cinch Billet: A cinch billet is a strip of strong leather one to one and a half inches wide and four or eight feet long, folded at the center point to form two strips of leather hanging from the right forward cinch rigging ring. Matched holes through both layers of leather allow the cinch buckle to be attached. The longer (eight foot) billet is wrapped twice through the cinch rings for extra strength.

Latigo: Usually made of five to eight feet of soft, pliable latigo leather, the western latigo's top end is folded over to form about a two inch overlap. Holes are punched through both layers of leather to form a triangle through which a small strip of leather is woven to secure the latigo loops down through the cinch buckle, up through the saddle cinch ring, back through the cinch buckle, and is secured by the buckle tongue.

Curb Bit: This is a leverage bit that has shanks and is secured with a curb strap or curb chain under the horse's chin.


Parts of the Bridle

Parts of the English Saddle

Types of English Saddles

Huntseat: The huntseat or forward-seat saddle is the most popular English type saddle used for pleasure riding, hunting, and jumping. The huntseat saddle has a deep spring seat to place the rider firmly in the center, and it has forward knee rolls for support of the thigh above the knee.

Dressage: The dressage saddle is similar to the huntseat saddle except it is not made for jumping. A longer flap allows the rider to have a longer leg position and more contact with the horse with their calf. A deeper seat gives the rider a more secure and comfortable position for the increase in sitting trot work.

Saddleseat: The saddleseat saddle is also known as the flat saddle or cutback saddle. Developed for use on gaited horses, it is also used for show in breeds like the American Saddlebred, Arabian, and Morgan horse. There are no knee rolls and the pommel has a cut out (hence the term cutback saddle). The saddle allows for the rider to have their weight further back on the saddle.
English Equipment

Girth: English girths come in a variety of sizes and have either two or three buckles. Most English girths have one end with elastic to allow for comfort of the horse. Dressage girths are sometimes shorter because the billets on the dressage saddle can be longer than on huntseat or saddleseat saddles. This allows for less bulk under the rider's leg.

Cavesson: The cavesson or noseband comes in several styles. The plain cavesson fits just under the horse's cheek bones and buckles under their chin. Figure-eight and flash nosebands have additional pieces that fit around the horse's nose on the other side of the bit and are used when the horse opens their mouth while riding or has a tendency to put their tongue over the bit.

Snaffle Bit: The most common type of bit is the snaffle. The snaffle refers to a bit that has no shanks or leverage. They can have a solid mouthpiece (mullenmouth), a single break, or a double break (usually a French-link snaffle). The sides of the snaffle bit have different purposes. Loose-ring snaffles are the most common. Full-cheek snaffles have sides that help teach young horses to steer.

Weymouth Bridle: A Weymouth bridle, or double bridle, has a curb and snaffle bit and two sets of reins. They are typically used on saddleseat horses in shows or advanced level dressage horses. The snaffle in a double bridle is smaller than a snaffle used alone and is usually referred to as a bridoon.

Pelham Bridle: A Pelham bridle combines the actions of both bits from a Weymouth bridle in one mouthpiece. The Pelham bit will have two sets of reins; one set attaches to the curb ring at the end of the shank, and the other set will attach to snaffle rings.
Rules of Safety

General Safety in Handling Horses
When approaching or going around a horse, always say "whoa" to let him know you are near.
Never be loud or boisterous around horses.
Work close to a horse to avoid receiving the full force of a kick.
A horse responds best to gentleness, kindness, and firmness. A pat or reward will make him your friend.
A horse may need a firm reprimand when disobedient; reprimand him right away so he will know why.
Never lose your temper with a horse and mistreat him.
Never kick or strike your horse on his legs or about his head.
Take special care around stallions because they may charge or bite you. Youth shows usually do not permit howing of stallions.
Before stabling, cool a warm or hot horse. Many need to be cooled by walking.
Do not let a hot horse over gorge on water, but give him a few swallows at a time.
Do not feed a horse heavily just before or after a heavy workout.
Well in advance of the show season teach a horse to be loaded and hauled in a trailer.
Avoid speed in hauling.

Safety in Leading and Showing
Be sure your tack is strong and safe. Keep it in good repair.
Never wrap the lead rope around your hands or body. If the horse starts running, he can drag and hurt you.
When leading always keep your horse a safe distance from other horses.
Do not crowd other horses standing in line, but keep about five feet of space between horses.
Avoid being stepped on by keeping your feet clear and watching your horse. Leather shoes offer more protection than sneakers. Never wear open-toed shoes or sandals around horses.
In leading always turn the horse to the right, which means pushing him rather than pulling him toward you.
Do not tie with an over-long rope.

Safety in Riding
Do not mount in close quarters or in barns with low ceilings.
Avoid loose flapping clothing, but wear well-fitted clothing. Long hair should be tied up neatly.
Use safe, strong, correct-fitting tack.
Check the girth before mounting.
Warm your horse up gradually, first at a walk, then a jog.
Always pass to the inside of a horse. Never pass between a horse and the arena rail. If you must take the rail yell "rail" to the other rider.

AKF Horse Riding Instructions

Special attention is offered to every individual's needs and wants with the ever sounding call of "Safety first." Beginners are encouraged to start at the ground level and work their way up in the Park district classes offered through the farm and through the various park districts in the area. In these classes beginners learn the basics.

Grooming and handling - How to saddle and bridle - Riding styles - Veterinary medicine

After the Park District Classes, which may be required, a AKF Student can move on to the 1/2 hour private lessons which are set up with one of AKF Instructors specializing in their styles of riding. Here is where the real fun begins!

It is the AKF Instructors job to polish and refine a rider and help them get the most out of the horses they ride. It is truly a never ending process of learning. It is up to the rider to control these animals with a gentle but firm touch, and it is up to these instructors to guide with a gentle but firm touch.

Click on Riding School for more Informtion .

The Classical Seat, Dressage, General Riding, Jumping,

Horsemanship and Horse Facts:

The Riding School will offer more information on how to ride your horse in the various disciplines. The Riding School will show you the proper positions and seat you need to be a good rider.

Note: The listings below for each area of interest.

The Classical Seat series

Click here for more Information on Subjects Below

The Classical Seat - The fundamentals of the correct posture on horseback.

Balance, Feel, and Rhythm - How exactly can they be achieved?

The Back and The Pelvis - A full understanding of their function can work wonders on your horse.

Achieving The Seat - Instructions that can aid in obtaining and maintaining the classical seat.

The Legs - Perfect your seat and your aids.

The Hands - Refining the contact.

The Seat In Action - Applying the theory to every day riding.

Dressage Clinic

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Long and Low - A simple exercise that can supple any horse.

Straightness - Stretching the stiff side - literally!

On The Bit - Get that dressage-perfect outline.

The Test - Tips on preparing for your dressage test and earning the highest scores.

The Shoulder-in - A step by step guide to introducing this lateral movement to your horse.

The Leg-yield - Detailed explanation on how to teach your horse a correct leg-yield.

General Riding

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The Sitting Trot - Becoming at one with your horse.

Boost Your Confidence - Conquer your nerves and recover your confidence.

20-Minute Workout - Exercises to include in a 20-minute schooling session, for both the beginner and the intermediate horse and rider. NEW!

Jumping Clinic

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The Jumping Position - Learn the correct position to maintain when jumping - on the flat and over a fence.


Click here for more Information on Subject Below

Facts of Horses - Offers ten important facts of the horse's mind to help you see the world from your horse's point of view.

Arabian Knights Farms and Training Center of Willowbrook Illinois thrives on 10 beautiful wooded acres. Arabian Knights is located in the middle of the Western Suburbs is just 39 minutes from downtown Chicago. We are a complete equestrian center offering Arabian Horses for Sale, Professional Horse Training, Boarding and Riding Istructions.

Arabian Knights Farms is one of the largest educational & training facilities in the greater Chicagoland area.

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