Lessons for 9 y.o. with dressage trainer

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Lessons for 9 y.o. with dressage trainer

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    01-31-2011, 12:53 PM
Lessons for 9 y.o. with dressage trainer

My 9-year old daughter is going to start taking lessons with a woman who is retired but has an extensive dressage background and from what I understand quite a resume, however this means nothing to me as I know nothing about dressage. We are limited because we don't have a trailer to haul our horse to a stable and this woman lives in the area and will come to us. I don't necessarily want my daughter to have "dressage" lessons per se, just riding lessons to develop a good foundation. We have a lovely little Arab that has not had any professional training but has done some schooling and 4-H shows. My daughter has been taking occasional lessons from a wonderful Centered Riding instructor, whom we love dearly, but the instructor is very busy and doesn't have time for more than a lesson, or possibly two, a month and we would like something more consistent.

I am inexperienced in dealing with "trainers" and I know what criteria I need to see for someone to work with my daughter (enthusiastic, positive, gentle - firm is fine but gentle is a must as we will never again get off the horse sobbing from being yelled at!!!) but I am not sure how to recognize correct training or too advanced. I suppose too advanced would be if my daughter can't understand the direction or gets really frustrated. How will I know if she is getting incorrect instruction?

Any advice for this newbie?
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    01-31-2011, 04:07 PM
Good trainer will never go too advanced with the beginner (and I'm pretty positive you'll see/feel if it's too advanced in your opinion). Watch couple lessons with her and daughter and encourage your girl to ask questions to see if she understands the explanations from the trainer and if trainer is willing to explain. I hope everything will go nice and the trainer will work for you both!
    02-01-2011, 10:17 PM
Another thing you could do is maybe watch her ride? Get opinions from some of her more experienced students. Also, you could exchange a lesson, for her to ride your horse once or twice. Not only will this give you an idea on wether she is a good rider (and trainer) because you know how your horse behaves (All the bad habits I.e. Throwing head when asked for transistion) but it will also give her a better idea on what will work with your horse, even while your daughter is on her, if you choose to go with her.
    02-02-2011, 01:16 AM
As much as I would like for her to ride our horse, because I agree that you can learn so much from watching, this woman was in a bad car accident a number of years ago and can no longer ride. She changed her career after the accident and is now completely retired but is giving a few lessons here and there. The person who gave me her name has taken some lessons and raved about her. He told me she was extremely qualified (and tossed some famous trainer/rider names that she has worked extensively with) but the best thing I heard him say is that this woman is gentle and "a natural at teaching". One thing I have picked up along this horsey journey is that you can have a ton of talent and not have a clue how to teach. Our Centered Riding instructor could teach someone how to clean a toilet and make it so easy and fun that you couldn't wait to clean more!!! She is perfect with my daughter and has taught her so much. I just wish the lessons were more consistent but we will still take lessons from her when we can.

I guess I just need to chill out and see what happens. From what my friend told me about this woman I was a little intimidated with a "over-qualified dressage" person and didn't want to get in over my daughters head, but we can quit taking lessons any time if it's too much. If this woman is really that good she will teach age/level appropriate. I'm a bit hyper-sensitive - I have had to stop someone once in the past for yelling at my daughter to the point where she was just sobbing (at age 7!!) and I will not ever go there again. It was not pretty, thank God my girl still loves to ride. We are in this for personal growth and fun - at a 9-year old level!
    02-02-2011, 01:31 AM
Green Broke
Hang in there, just because she's highly trained doesn't mean she can't give lessons to young child.

My dressage trainer gives lessons to my 7yr old. She is calm, quiet, very encouraging and just wonderful with her. My kid absolutely LOVES her lessons and I cannot believe the confidence she has gaining and how much her riding has improved.

When it comes to my lessons though, my trainer is kicking my butt all over the arena! Has absolutely no qualms about yelling at me but I'm not 7, nor am I about to fell apart because she is.
    02-03-2011, 02:18 PM

We had our first lesson with the new trainer and it went well. She just observed our normal warm-up routine at first and then they got to work. She introduced some more advanced concepts than we had had before and my daughter "kind of" understood, but I think in time she will learn a lot from this woman. I encouraged my daughter to ask more questions in the future even if she thinks she understands but isn't 100% sure. It was clear that this woman knew her stuff and that she is a true dressage trainer. I think at times she had to think about her explanations as she was probably not used to teaching a 9-year old who has had no exposure to true dressage. We learned about (introduced to) different leg pressure and how it works, inside leg/outside rein, circles, keeping an even rhythm, and she would point out when the horse was going nicely and when she would come out of it and the difference between the two. She also gave tips on how to keep her in rhythm. It was fun.

We'll see how this progresses - I'm eager to see my daughter learn more as she loves to ride so much.
    02-04-2011, 01:29 PM
Some very advanced dressage trainers do very well with children. They generally do a whole lot better than people with LESS experience who tend to get far too fussy and complicated. People get very good at explaining and breaking things down as they get more experience - it's only experience that makes a person able to see what needs to be corrected at each stage and will be the most help in making progress.

ALSO - people with experience just don't get inappropriate for the level of the student. For example, on a child's first dive into a pool, you don't sit there and lecture him for ten minutes after breaking it down in detail as if it was the Olympics. 'Good, you did it', now on to the next thing.

It is just an individual thing - as people in ANY sport that are good with children are really exceptional people.

If they have experience teaching children, or just are eager and willing to work with the child, it will be fine.

Children get very, very emotional about their sports, generally, it means an immense amount to them and they want very, very much to do well.

It isn't at all unusual for them to have tears during a lesson, even with the kindest, gentlest instructor. Children can't always understand what's happening and have a hard time putting things into words. It's frustrating to be a child and wanting badly to do really well.

And...mom...it is important to not be too protective, but to allow a child to face appropriate challenges and work it through. With stress on appropriate. So for example a nine year old can be learning to spot what diagonal she is on and change, but perhaps it will be next year before the piaffe and passage are mastered...lol.

That said I wouldn't put up with anyone who was consistently unpleasant or downgrading the kid, but if they're saying, 'Try harder, come on, you can do this!' I am not worried.
    02-05-2011, 11:57 AM
What, ME overprotective??? Alright, guilty as charged. Our yelling experience did leave me a bit hyper-sensitive, or maybe VERY hyper-sensitive. I allowed it to escalate that day and really regret it. It had been gradually getting worse (getting yelled at) every time we rode and I told my daughter that it was ok, even good, to say "I don't understand" or "please don't yell" but she didn't and I should have stepped in much sooner. Then it got to "FORWARD!FORWARD!FORWARD! - NOOOOOO!!! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?! FORWARD!! ..... (sneering) Yeah, that's right, you just sit in the middle and cry. See if that helps you". At that point I totally lost it and blew up - it got ugly. The worst part - it was her own grandmother (my mother-in-law) who yelled.

So, when my friend who suggested this trainer went on and on about her experience and told me who she had worked with for years and what she had done and I obviously had a blank expression because he told me "well, if you knew dressage it would blow your mind". (Lucky for me I don't know anything about dressage and my mind is still in tact) Anyway, after hearing that I envisioned a hard core demanding yeller and I got really nervous.

She is not a yeller and she is kind and gentle. We are going to have another lesson next week.
    02-05-2011, 12:54 PM
It sounds like you found a real gem.

I don't blame parents for being over-protective sometimes. Being a parent is a tough job, THE toughest job.

It sounds like the instructor worked on some really basic concepts that were totally appropriate. Not only that, she thought about wording it so your child could understand.

It's funny. An experienced dressage trainer can have young kids doing so many things, so easily. The kids don't realize it's 'hard', they get a simple explanation, they even teach their own ponies themselves. It is truly amazing to see.
    02-18-2011, 11:23 AM
Dressage vs. Centered Riding

Since my last post my daughter has had another lesson with the new dressage trainer AND our Centered Riding instructor and it's been interesting to compare. Lots of similar ideas but presented differently, lots of personality differences too!

The dressage trainer focused primarily on good strong walk, keeping a steady pace, circles, and transitions. While she was teaching these things she was also teaching how to use the leg/hand/seat and it was good. Interestingly, she had my daughter go into the canter using the inside leg (vs outside) and the horse went right into it with the correct lead. I was impressed because she has one lead that is tough and not always on. It was a good lesson.

The Centered Riding instructor focused mainly on transitions, posture, relaxing, keeping a steady pace, etc. This instructor mixes things up more than the dressage trainer. She used trot poles, cones and makes a bit of an obstacle coarse as well as just going around the arena. Very fun lesson.

I think we're going to try to use both trainers and alternate between the two while we can. The Centered Riding Instructor travels around the U.S. For clinics most of the summer so she won't be as available then. My daughter really likes her lessons with the dressage trainer and LOVES the lessons with the Centered Riding Instructor. The dressage trainer is pleasant, quiet and positive. The Centered Riding instructor is dynamic, energetic and very enthusiastic. Both have great backgrounds - the dressage trainer worked for many years in Europe with, what I gather, is a big time "Dressage Rock Star" and clearly knows her stuff. The Centered Riding Instructor worked with Sally Swift for many years and clearly knows her stuff. In reality though, these backgrounds are somewhat irrelevant because my daughter is 9 and lightly showing at a 4-H level. I'm just grateful for the great instruction.

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