How can I keep the ride enjoyable for my daughter?
Hi. My name is Nikki, I'm new to the Forum. We own our first horse, Matty - a 12 yr old 14'2 standard bred, who is ridden by my nine year old daughter in a cross under (DR Cook style) bridle and treeless saddle. Mikayla has been riding since she was four, 2.5 of those years at a formal school. She now rides almost daily and has a lesson once a week with the local Pony Club. She can walk/trot/canter and jump small rails when riding a quiet school pony but is too nervous on the bigger Matty.
We bought Matty before Christmas and decided to keep him bitless and treeless as that was what he has been schooled in, and a good place to start for buying new gear. Philosophically, I agree with the more natural style and my daughter is dead set on it and doesn't want to change. I bought a bit last week.
Matty is a real sweetheart, but he is headstrong, stubborn and appears lazy (but I know what he is capable of!). He just will not listen to Mikayla and today simply walked through the low arena railing and headed toward the car (signaling he was finished for the day). Of course, she wouldn't allow it, and we continued working him, but she is getting nervous as she has very little control. The French link snaffle doesn't seem to have much effect, either, but I don't want a harsher bit as he is already shaking his head with that one.
We can keep working him, I can have him on the lunge, I can get extra lessons, but it comes down to the fact that rides are not fun. I am trying not to stress. He is a new horse and they both need some time to work out the chain of command, but I keep second guessing my choices and I find I get really wound up at Pony Club nights. What can I do to keep this light hearted and fun for her, while teaching her how to get his respect?