These riders have little experience (if any) at all with horses in general. They may have been on a "trail ride" at a rental stable once or twice but need to learn general horse handling or the basic commands to make the horse move forward, turn, trot, stop and back unassisted. Instruction includes saddle or bridle a horse themselves and comfortably handling a horse from the ground.
Novice riders have some basic experience with horses. They have possibly had a few lessons, maybe even owned a horse as a child (or recently), They can catch, halter, groom, saddle and bridle a horse by themselves. They can mount and ride off unassisted. A novice rider may or may not be able to rise or post to the trot. They can trot without bouncing and can stay comfortable with a slow canter on a gentle, well broken horse. They should know how to ask and obtain a slow controlled walk, trot/jog and canter/lope. They can change direction and circle their horse. They are learning what a diagonal is and leads are. They may have even started a little jumping and are comfortable on a well broken horse. However, they may not be comfortable on a greener or less experienced mount.
The intermediate rider has taken lessons or trained under a mentor for a while, rides in a specific discipline (or has experience in several disciplines) and may compete. He or she has ridden several different types of horses and can independently manage a horse’s care. Their seat is secure, they do not apply unintentional aids to the horse when they lose balance or become unseated. They know how to rise or post to the trot and ask for and obtain a specific lead or change in lead. They are capable of riding a less experienced horse and helping in that horse’s training. They are able to train/compete at a more advanced level with a trainer’s assistance. The intermediate rider is knowledgeable about different horse breeds and disciplines. He or she knows basic horse conformation and can detect lameness and unsoundness issues.
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