Young rider, worried mom - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 88 Old 04-19-2012, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Young rider, worried mom

Hello, dear horse people! I'm following my daughter's passion for horseback riding, and I'm not quite sure where we are going. She is almost 10. She took some Western lessons on and off when she was 8 and 9 (only walk / leisure, not trotting), and then she started weekly English lessons in October of 2011 at Place #1 (some group, some private).

In January 2012 we switched to Place #2--a very different approach, lots of initial time on a lunge line, and she is loving it.

I'm not a horse person, and it is very difficult (okay, impossible) for me to determine how well she is doing. All I can see is that her heels are mostly down, and that her hands are low. Since the lessons are private, I don't even see other children her age and level.

Also, this instructor teaches very differently that the others we've seen. For example, there's no emphasis on the correct diagonal at this point (she said this will be done later), and she started cantering from the 2-point position.

After 7 lessons of cantering on the lunge-line (weekly lessons), she had her first independent cantering lesson last week, and it was also her first "jumping" lesson. I'm worried she's moving too fast, without having developed a good seat, but my knowledge on this is sketchy, no matter how much I read about this stuff, I remain very visually ignorant--everyone on a horse looks gorgeous to me.

Her instructor seems to be pleased, but I also wonder whether she just wants us to lease a horse sooner, rather than later.

I would appreciate honest feedback. My daughter is very self aware for her age, and said she wants me to learn the truth, but that she will read only positive comments (in other words, she doesn't want to hear too much negativity right now.)

Her instructor seems to be pleased, but I also wonder whether she just wants us to lease a horse sooner, rather than later. We are not exactly rich, and even a half lease is a big stretch on our budget.

I entertain myself during her lessons by videotaping.

Trotting (posting trot) progression since November 2011 to April 2012:

First independent canter, April 2012 (lesson 8 at Place #2):

Trotting over cross poles, April 2012 (lesson 8 at Place #2):

Thank you!
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post #2 of 88 Old 04-19-2012, 11:31 PM
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Your daughter is a natural! Really! She looks really good on those horses, even in her first couple of lessons. She's progressing nicely and seems very confident in the saddle. I obviously don't know for sure since I don't know the trainer or your daughter, but I don't think she is moving too fast at all. How quickly or slowly someone progresses completely depends on the child. If they are more timid, they'll go at a slower pace, but your daughter seems confident in the saddle and capable of everything the trainers have been throwing at her.

You should be very proud of her. And what an amazing mommy you are to allow your daughter to participate in something that she loves.

The only things I'm seeing that she needs to improve on are her diagonals (which like you said, the trainer would prefer to add later) and she seems to have busy hands while she's posting. They move a lot and when she rises up, her hands rise with her. But that's something that will improve as she rides. She really does a great job.

As for the leasing...I'd hold off and just continue taking lessons on lesson horses for a year or so before taking on such a big commitment into the horse world. With leases, even half leases, if the horse comes up lame or with some costly vet bills, there's a chance you'll be paying for half, if not all of it. Horses are expensive. Take lessons as long as she can and then take the plunge only when the two of you are very ready and prepared, not just for the riding aspect of it, but for the daily care and vet/farrier costs that could be included too.
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Last edited by CLaPorte432; 04-19-2012 at 11:34 PM.
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post #3 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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CLaPorte432:

Thank you for taking the time to read and watch! I am very proud of her--she is not only interested in riding, but also in horsemanship, in relating to horses, and I'm learning a lot from her. It amazes me how confident she is around these large animals, and is not afraid to walk into stalls to brush them and pick their feet. It seems that she truly understands them.

It is of course very pleasant for me to hear that she is also doing reasonably well with the riding. I can see that she's confident, but as I said, I can't really say whether she is good at the physical part of riding--her position, timing, etc. I know that she couldn't figure out the diagonal thing at Place #1, and instinctively didn't like looking down, because that was unbalancing her and the horse. And even after all these lessons, I can't determine whether she's on the correct diagonal or not. These horeses move too fast for me!

Should the trainer be focusing on her hands at this point, or is there some kind of a skill progression that places the hand issue later in the sequence?

The lease part scares me. We live 1 hour away from this place. I can't really see myself driving her there 3 times a week, especially as I have 2 other young children who are not at all interested in spending hours at cold and stinky barns. We'd like to keep this trainer, though, as my daughter has such a great rapport with her, and likes her style of instruction. She is much more interested in natural horsemanship and learning to ride bareback and hands free, than in showing and it seems that this trainer can at least work on those skills.

As far as I understand, leasing a horse at one place, and having lessons at the other won't really work, right?

Well, in any case, I have a wise child, who said she wants to be very comfortable cantering and jumping before she wants to lease, so at least there's no pressure from her. She gets to volunteer 15 hours a week at her very first barn, where she briefly rode Western, and she's happy with just being with horses, and it is only 5 minutes from home.

Sorry for the long posts. I don't know anyone irl who is able to talk horses with me. It is such an adventure for us, but I just wish I was more knowledgeable and was able to guide her better.
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post #4 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 12:28 AM
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I could not view the first video, but for iust starting out she looks really good. One thing I would recommend she change is to take her feet out of the stirrups a little more. The stirrup should be more so at the ball of her foot, not up against the heel of her boot. This change will help her keep her heels down more and help with her leg stretching down and for better use of her lower leg. I could not really see the jump (too far and bad angle) but it looked pretty good from what I could see. Tell her to keep up the good work!
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post #5 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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LostDragonflyWings:

Thank you for the tip regarding her feet. I will tell her.

I know the angle / distance for the jump is really poor, and the lighting there is not the best either. Do you think it would be really odd to ask the trainer whether I could sit in the middle of the arena? I'd like to be able to have a better video of her jumping. Though the trainer changes things a lot from lesson to lesson, and I'm not even sure they'd be jumping tomorrow (though my daughter is hoping, of course.)
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post #6 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 12:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horselessmom View Post
LostDragonflyWings:

Thank you for the tip regarding her feet. I will tell her.

I know the angle / distance for the jump is really poor, and the lighting there is not the best either. Do you think it would be really odd to ask the trainer whether I could sit in the middle of the arena? I'd like to be able to have a better video of her jumping. Though the trainer changes things a lot from lesson to lesson, and I'm not even sure they'd be jumping tomorrow (though my daughter is hoping, of course.)
I do not think it would be odd to ask if you can go to the middle of the arena to get better videos. As long as you are not in the way of what they are doing and your daughter does not mind, I can not see where the trainer would mind (though some might... but you do not know unless you ask). :)
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post #7 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostDragonflyWings View Post
I do not think it would be odd to ask if you can go to the middle of the arena to get better videos. As long as you are not in the way of what they are doing and your daughter does not mind, I can not see where the trainer would mind (though some might... but you do not know unless you ask). :)
Thanks! I will see how it goes tomorrow. I know I'll feel self-conscious asking. I'll play it by ear.
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post #8 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 02:41 AM
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One of the most helpful things for my own continued llearning is to watch video of myself. Maybe her coach will even go over sOme of it with her.
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post #9 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 03:37 AM
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I would maybe not go into the arena if it makes your daighter self conscious.
Her boots have heels, right?

she is doing super well. I am not sure I would do an jumping yet, personally, but I dont' do jumping, so dont know what is typical for when a child starts jumping.

What a good mom you are for supporting her here. I know it is expensive, but the lessons learned carry well beyond the arena. really.
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post #10 of 88 Old 04-20-2012, 04:12 AM
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What a lovely little rider she is!
Like the others above, I don't think that the instructor is moving her too quickly. As long as her balance is good, it's great for her to be cantering and doing little cross rails on her own.
To help her hands when she's trotting, ask the instructor to get her to hang onto either a monkey strap (oh sh!t strap when you use it on a young horse haha) or the velcro tabs of the saddle cloth. This will give her something to balance on, as well as being aware of how much her hands are wanting to move.
I've been riding for many years, have trained horses, done well in competition etc, and I still hold the velcro of my saddle cloth once in a while to make sure my hands are staying quietly - it's definitely a wake up call to how much your hands want to move without you noticing!


As for leasing - HOLD OFF! There is absolutely no need for her to lease a horse. If you're not confident around horses, and she's only small and not experienced, it will end up being a lot of money waster. At the moment, I really think that regular lessons are the best thing to do. Horses are expensive, lots of problems come up, and they can be dangerous. The longer you can keep her happy with just her lessons, the better :)

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