At first, it might not seem obvious that a 1,200-pound animal is the best teacher of true leadership skills.

During their time in our Horse Program—a cornerstone of the Thacher experience since the earliest days of the School—students are confronted with real work and real responsibility. Day in and day out, rain or shine, students in the program are expected to muck their horses’ stalls before class in the morning, learn and hone riding skills in the afternoon, and feed their horses every evening. Most have never ridden before.

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  • Requirements

    Freshmen are paired with a horse the first week of school and required to ride for the entire school year. New sophomores and juniors choose one athletic season their first year to participate in the Horse Program. Either way, students are learning a new language, one where a nuanced approach, the just-right application of pressure, and forward thinking are essential as they learn to communicate and work together with their horse. For a lot of students, fulfilling these requirements is just the beginningthey go on to spend many seasons on horseback. Learn more about this experience here
  • Other Riding Opportunities

    Beyond general horsemanship, students have the opportunity to participate in some specialized opportunities within the Horse Program. Every Thacher student will go horse camping at least once, and plenty go several times during their time here. The added responsibilities of proper horse packing techniques and caring for horses and stubborn burros along mountain trails make for a truly unique challenge. Interested students can also trade in their Western tack to join the Equestrian Team, which often competes in regional equitation competitions. Other students have been known to compete in Extreme Cowboy competitions, testing speed, skill, and agility in a number of horsemanship events.


Much is made of learning to be independent when you go to boarding school or college. Here, you have that responsibility for yourself but also for another creature. It makes you even more capable in your later years at Thacher and also in college, grad school, and beyond.

Atlanta, Georgia

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