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Dealing with a sensitive student?

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    02-08-2011, 02:50 PM
The only thing I see wrong is he needs to sit up taller and keep his shoulders back. It seems to me you are getting too frustrated and that it's just making it worse.

He's only 11, you should praise him when he does something right rather than nagging him. Also showing him what someone should look like, is really embarrassing, especially when they get on his horse and ride him better than him..if someone did that to me I would cry or get defensive.

I think you should be very very patient, first of all, then while he is at the halt, have him sit in the proper position let him feel what is correct. Then have him walk...start slowly.

Good luck.
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    02-08-2011, 03:00 PM
I'm going to second Erika, as she made a point I forgot to mention. Having another student get on his horse to show him how it's done is incredibly embarrassing! You can point out another student on their horse and have him watch their position but do so quickly and while he's still mounted so he can go try for himself. By having someone much more advances then he is get on, you are comparing him to that other rider and that's not fair, he's not to that level yet.
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    02-09-2011, 04:23 PM
Turn fixing his position into a "game". Do this "game" with your entire lesson. When do many of these "games" in my lessons. So from what I see he needs to sit back more and sit taller, so you tell everyone in the group you are playing a "game". The goal of this game is to lean back, almost backward behind your saddle, with your back straight, and your shoulders back(in cadets we tell people to move there shoulders, up back and down for good posture). While this is over exaggerating, it will really bring the idea home for him, and give the other people a chance to strengthen there positions.

Also you could tell the group we are going back to the basics. So when I yell something out, I want everyone to do it, so if you yell out, "Sit Back" everyone should lean back more etc. When you say "Trot" everyone breaks into the trot, when you say "halt" everyone halts etc. So like a command class except add in things that need to be fixed.
    02-09-2011, 04:33 PM
Green Broke
You seem like a lovely person and you are somewhat in a difficult situation as there are other factors in this kids riding education that may be playing against you a little bit I.e. Other relatives. The hard thing about this scenario is that sometimes kids have to be told the truth, even if they don't want to hear it. Praise is good in moderation but does not mean much if the other end of the scale is never experienced - praise becomes expected. Tricky though if you don't have parental support and/or consent to be tough as needed.

Personally, I think it was more worrying that he was crying in response to being told what to do, how on earth will he deal with real life? Sure he is only 11 but cmon, by 11 I could be told what to do/what not to do without having a hissy fit.

What if you try some walk-trot exercises? I find with raw beginners they progressively lose their balance (and therefore confidence) the longer they trot. Would it be possible to get him to develop good balance at a walk, then do two trot strides, then walk, then do three trot strides etc and build his balance and therefore confidence to release his death grip on the saddle/mane.

Sounds a little like he would be a candidate for a some more one on one instruction before being allowed to ride in a group, not sure if that would be an option?
    02-09-2011, 07:35 PM
Thank you all for your replies. I'm writing notes to bring to my boss, our "head instructor," to help the boy.

As for riding alone, it's difficult. Our arena stays open (we keep the doors open so the horses can come in out of the weather; we lease the property and the owner has no lean-to or other structure in the pasture) and the dirt "humps" up over where the track should be (but is nowhere to be found). During the weekdays after cleaning we're exhausted and no one feels like riding because we just spent over an hour digging and chiseling away the dirt, ice, and frozen poo.

Our normal regime is to let the young kids rider first (and the older riders help them prepare their horse and mount up), then they ride for an hour or so. Then reverse process for the older riders. The reason for this being that we feel most of our younger students shouldn't be cantering, and one girl is afraid to, and we don't want to stifle our older rider's "day." On this specific day my boss decided that riders of all ages were going to ride together.

She is the kind of person who wants to see the good in everybody, we all know the type, and took the boy's word for it that he's a "great rider" because he rides our smoothest horse (a painted TWH, you can literally hardly feel the difference between his walk and canter/gallop) like a champ. She never got to see him "in action" over the summer because she was running the business on her own while her partner was out of town and ran around like a chicken with her head cut off. One of our "expert" riders turned out to have had no previous instruction and recently was thrown from her horse when he simply spooked and side-stepped. Then there's the boy, who my boss was thoroughly disappointed with.

Regardless, my boss gave him lessons over the very subject over the summer in the round pen, bareback, on Ben (our lesson horse who, outside of being stubborn and not wanting to keep his trot, does perfect). My boss made him ride bareback on Ben that day so he wouldn't have the chance to death-grip that blasted saddle horn. He rode decently for about a week after that and then, plop, right back into old habits.

The horse that he's on in the picture, Lightning, is another lesson horse. He's extremely easy to get "going" (a light tap = trot, a kick = GOGOGO!), and equally as easy to stop -- if one doesn't jerk the reins (if they do he throws his head up as high as he can).

This past riding session I rode a mare, Sugar, and showed him my posture (I did the poles so I would have less chance to think about my posture and "fake it"). He said, "So what am I doing wrong?" and I showed him at a stand-still (he wanted me to display the same posture while I was trotting/cantering, and I refused him, explaining once more how dangerous it was). He later rode the same horse and made the same mistakes as before, the same mistakes as he did over the summer.

I'm going to try (if I'm not riding as well) to take more video footage of him riding, and then take him into the "warming room" (which is the viewing room, attached to the arena) and show him the videos on my laptop and explain to him what he's doing. Would this be an effective way to do this? That way we're not embarrassing him again when it comes to someone else riding his horse, and definitely more-so than shouting out?

In addition, this boy is one of our volunteers and rides "drag," a position in the back of the trail ride where they watch the back of the guide in case something happens they don't happen to see. Thus making his position as a rider even more important because there will be times that we trot (and some horses, as we all know, trot fast or others can canter in a line full of trotting horses), and the last thing we need is someone falling off on the trail, where they are more difficult to reach.

Another oddity: He does perfectly fine on Ben. I'm thinking now that maybe he just can't match up to Lightning's rhythm to find his balance??
    02-09-2011, 07:59 PM
Green Broke
If you are worried he will possibly fall you need to make him wear a helmet for his safety.It looks like he is bracing himself a lot. I use to put my heels up and toes down and hold on to the horn.

Can you do lunge line exercises?It will help his balance.Do you have wavers that are to be signed ?
    02-09-2011, 08:24 PM
Originally Posted by Gidget    
Can you do lunge line exercises?It will help his balance.Do you have wavers that are to be signed ?
I did the same thing when I first started to ride and bounced around like a jumping bean. We require all of our volunteers and customers to sign waivers annually (there's a new waiver each year). We have helmets, as well.

I can do some lunging exercises with him, but I'd like someone to explain that to me -- it's something I've never done with a horse and rider.

When he first joined us, he was so excited that he was almost 12 -- at the age of 12, riders had a choice of helmet wear. With our new insurance, he would have to wait until 14. He was so "depressed" by it my soft-hearted boss allowed him the choice. I recently talked to him about this, explaining that if something would happen to him that required hospitalization, the company would be in major trouble because he didn't have a helmet. He resented me and said, "But boss said I don't have to," and walked away.

I suppose it's a "whatever" statement. He'll learn when he knocks his noggin if he wants to be so stubborn pertaining to basic safety gear.
    02-10-2011, 01:15 AM
Green Broke
Alright,well I hope he understands that it isn't good to fall on your head. MAYBE you should show him a video of what happens to ppl who don't wear helmets because I still think he should especially if he is really off balance.

Lunging exercises have helped me a ton.

Here is an article that isn't horribly long that will help you getr some ideas of lunging exercises.Can he ride in an english saddle to learn his balance?Stirrups can flip over the horses withers which is nice.
    02-10-2011, 03:35 AM
I had a confidence problem myself when I first started riding. It can be discouraging to receive critique, even if it's constructive, especially for a kid!

I'd try telling him to picture himself riding the horse. That helps me a lot, even now. Sometimes my position won't be very good and I'll just think about the rider I want to look like, and it just happens. If you picture your back straight, for example, it'll straighten naturally. Even habits that people aren't aware of can sometimes be fixed by this. There's some scientific explanation to it... I'm not sure what it's called.

As far as him matching up to a particular horse goes, you may want to keep him on the horse he is most comfortable with until his posture and seat are consistent.

Watching yourself in a video can be a great tool.

If you haven't already done this already, maybe try encouraging a sitting trot? I personally got my balance through a lot of bareback riding.
    02-10-2011, 03:39 AM
Originally Posted by horseloverd2    
I had a confidence problem myself when I first started riding. It can be discouraging to receive critique, even if it's constructive, especially for a kid!
Just thought I should mention I didn't mean you shouldn't give him critique. If you're taking lessons and trying to improve your riding, it doesn't matter how old you are... you should be getting and accepting critique. In the case with someone who is not confident, though, critique should be given extremely careful and 'sandwiched' Good comment, constructive one, and another good comment. :)

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