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Dealing with a sensitive student?

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    02-11-2011, 12:07 PM
I took a bunch of lunge line lessons a few years ago and it really helped me with my balance issues, plus they're a lot of fun. You really need a horse that lunges well and is steady on the lunge line because then you can focus on your student and not on keeping the horse steay or going.

If you go with lunge lessons take away the sudents reins and then he can do things like holding his arms out to his sides to try and show his gripping the horn isn't required. Toy can do things like having his hold his legs out to his sides (at a walk and at the trot) - so have him hold one leg out away from the saddle and then the other leg for a few strides and then both legs, this will help him sit deeper and get a better balance on his seat bones. On the line you could maybe have him close his eyes and to feel the motion of the horse. Have him shout out the diagnals to you (does he post? I know it's harder in a western saddle but teaching him that could be helpful).

There are loads of things you can do on the lunge line. I liked one exercise when my instuctor would ask me to reach back and touch behind the saddle with each hand, that might help bring his shoulders back.

You could also teach him to stop the horse on the lunge line (thats a big confience booster!). My instructor would make me blow out like I was blowing out a candle, it makes the stomach muscles contact and is an essential part of a half halt. I learned to do this on a draft horse I was lunged on and I always had the hardest time getting him to "feel" me as i'm so small, and when I finally got him to stop just by using my seat it was a great feeling.

I know you said that he seems to get it and then goes right back to his bad habits, try and remember that bad habits are easy to fall back into and it does take a long time to relearn good habits, just keep him at it and correct him and help him along the way by suggesting new things and ways to keep it fun and new. If he feels like your just repeating yourself and he's repeating himself he'll get discouraged.

Hope this helps.
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    02-11-2011, 01:15 PM
Because of his age, I would definitely do a lot of encouragement, praise especially when they are doing something correct. Pay attention as to how you are using your voice when you are having to shout to talk to someone. As someone mentioned before, it is very embarrassing and insulting when you have another person get up on the same horse and ride it better. As far as trying to show him how the correct position is supposed to be, have him walk the horse--which is what he needs to be doing lots of right now to establish balance--and you could walk next to him and position his body parts to where they should be. I know you say there are lots of riders at the same time, there is a lot of pressure for him to do good and he feels the need to impress everyone. That's one of the downfalls of group lessons.
    02-11-2011, 01:35 PM
Another suggestion:

Pushing Passenger lesson is really fun & educational (for the horse, too!): one leaves the reins alone, V's the hands over the base of the horse's neck, pushes oneself back into a deep seat with every stride, & just lets the horse go where it wants to, in an enclosed space (size dependent upon the "go-iness" of the horse). It teaches one to not rely upon the reins for balance, & not to micro-manage the horse. The horse enjoys the development of those skills in the rider! The only direction from the rider is to maintain the gait that the rider chooses, but the horse must be allowed to break gait first, before the rider directs to resume the gait. (no punishment for breaking gait; this also teaches horse to maintain gait)

If the horse speeds up past the directed gait, wind him down to a stop with one rein only.
    02-11-2011, 01:39 PM
I really, strongly agree with GeminiJumper. If he is so anxious that he is in tears then perhaps it would be a good idea to give him some confidence-boosting activities? He is a pretty young guy and I know it's hard but sometimes the best of us forget to put ourselves in the student's shoes. (How would you feel if you were in a class writing out a problem on the blackboard and the teacher saw you doing the problem wrong, took the chalk from you and called another student up to do it 'properly' because they were 'better' then you?) I know it sounds harsh but that kind of thing can really dampen a spirit.

I think you are a good teacher for searching for an answer from outside sources because sometimes it's really hard to see things from every angle by yourself. :)
    02-11-2011, 09:35 PM
Has this boy signed up for lessons? I couldn't tell if it was that or just a fun ride. If he has signed up for lessons, and there is already 'bad feeling' between you and him (he feels embarrassed, you feel frustrated), I would suggest taking it right back to square one. Ask him what he wants to accomplish and respect that. If he wants to have fun and ride the more exciting horses, then he needs a secure seat, if he wants to compete etc then he will need more finesse. You could always appeal to his budding testosterone by telling him that you and him are going to work on a way to make him the best rider in the universe and how he will be able to handle any horse on the planet! (that will impress all those 11 year old girls!).

Also, if you are being undermined by the family, I believe you need to address this - ask the Grandpa what he wants Junior to learn and then lay out a plan...if he doesn't buy into it then he can leave.

I can't say why, but I kind of got the feeling that between Grandpa, the cousin and life in general this kid might be feeling just a bit sounds like he is with a group of kids way more advanced than he is...if that picture is a recent trot, then no way should he be cantering. Can he go with a group where he is at the same level?

And looks like he is wearing a beanie? I know it could be the effect you have on, but is he wearing a helmet? Most barns around me insist that all minors were helmets...the liability issues are insane when it comes to kids. But then, I am in California!
    02-11-2011, 10:59 PM
Originally Posted by Gidget    
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.
My twin sister had to learn to walk and talk again after a head injury from falling off of our pony when we were 5 years old. That was before my mom made us wear helmet. I really hope that he decides to wear a helmet.
    02-12-2011, 01:35 AM
Originally Posted by Trilogy    
Has this boy signed up for lessons? I couldn't tell if it was that or just a fun ride. If he has signed up for lessons, and there is already 'bad feeling' between you and him (he feels embarrassed, you feel frustrated), I would suggest taking it right back to square one. Ask him what he wants to accomplish and respect that. If he wants to have fun and ride the more exciting horses, then he needs a secure seat, if he wants to compete etc then he will need more finesse. You could always appeal to his budding testosterone by telling him that you and him are going to work on a way to make him the best rider in the universe and how he will be able to handle any horse on the planet! (that will impress all those 11 year old girls!).
No helmet. In my previous post I explained my soft-hearted boss and why she gave him the choice to wear a helmet instead of waiting until he's 14 (which is what our insurance requires). Little does he know, if our insurance company finds out he can kiss these horses good-bye! It's a "coolness" thing for him; the helmet makes him look like a dolt (and he can't wear his fancy-pants hat), he won't have it on his head.

What frustrates me with my boss is that, with his seat being the way it is, she's letting him ride our "expert" (1 of 2) mare. This mare is notorious for being full of piss & vinegar; her favorite rider (if a horse could have a favorite?) was nearly wrecked because the horse bucked up [out of excitement] when she was asked to trot. After a time or two she was a-okay. Why does he get to ride this horse? Because he brought up his reading grade from a C to a B. :roll: This time I'm really going to push the helmet issue and not let him go until he has one on; I even plan to put one on with him. I just hope he understands that this horse isn't one of the dead-broke horses he regularly rides. As a matter of fact, this mare bucks with her head up. (Making it harder to stop her from doing so.)

As for his status, he's a barn volunteer. After he took a 1-week Horse 101 camp with the local YMCA he swindled into our volunteer staff. With this he gets to ride for free and sometimes gets lessons when my boss (or whoever had the most energy over the summer) could give them. Lessons were especially given when another, older volunteer would bring his posture up to the boss lady.

To be honest, I don't know what his level of riding is. I'm torn between saying "beginner" and "intermediate." He has time in the saddle (intermediate trait), but no proper instruction (bumping him to square one). I'm crossing my fingers that we can get our arena doors sorted out and he comes in during the week days, where I can give him more one-on-one (one two-on-one, since boss lady will be there as well giving pointers) instruction.

Boss lady has been riding horses for 20-something years and never had a wreck. I have a meager 1 year. Neither of us have been wrecked. The boy, on the other hand, recently fell off of his poke-along, lazy-as-can be horse with his grandfather.

I'll try to have the sit-down his his grandfather (and maybe his cousin, to feed her the hard truth that she's not "miss thang" on a horse and should join us for a couple lessons, as well) to see how that would work out. I'm trying to get to where I can join them for a trail ride on their property with the boarders (a friend boards her horse with theirs) so I can [hopefully] evaluate this little shin-dig on his own "turf," where he's more comfortable and more likely to let himself relax.
    02-12-2011, 02:11 AM
I did some lessons for a friend. No confidence, terrible posture, etc. Never rode before in her life kinda deal

Instead of saying "You need to sit up more, heels down, deepen your seat, etc." I made it exciting like riding this slow-poke mare was the most amazing thing on earth to happen, ever.
I talked to her near constantly, I'd call out things like: "Thats EXCELLENT Stacy (I just pulled that out of nowhere)! Your doing FANTASTIC! Let me see those heels down (be all: you goose, don't forget!)! Good good! I'm liking that! Little looser on the reins...perfect! Don't be afraid to let go of the horn, just tuck that tush on down into that saddle! Perfect, absolutely great! I love it! And relax! Nothing better then relaxing, absolutely perfect!"

In between I'd have her stop (her hands or seat was wrong, leaning to the left, etc.) and I'd explain what I want to see more clearly. I'd go, "I'm really liking the connection I'm seeing, really feel the horse. Now, I'd like to see those thumbs up on the reins, makes your cues a lot quicker./Try to relax a bit more, your doing wonderful, but if you get to excited -grin- your horse is going to get excited to./I want you to try and act really pompus in the saddle, sit up like a Spanish/English/Whatevercomestomind King/Queen and pretend like your riding past your royal servants. Really snuggle that tush right into the seat and stick your nose in the air!"

I would throw out those little reminders in between "Your doing great!" or "Thats fantastic! I'm really liking that!" and say something like, "Just a smidgen lower with those hands! AWESOME! That's great! Keep it up, your doing wonderful!". If they do something right, praise it, be "I'm LOVING your hands/seat/posture"

The things beginners need the MOST is confidence and inspiration. Especially the youngsters. Don't inflate their ego, but get them excited about being on that horse! I took riding lessons for a year and I didn't have the confidence or balance to do so much as canter! Then I got an instructor who got me pumped up about it....all of a sudden that canter wasn't scary, but wonderful!
If you make it fun, really make them feel like this is the greatest thing ever, you can get more serious. You can be, "Alright, today where going to some really boring stuff, alright? Like...seriously boring. We're going to ride without stirrups at a walk and trot, no big deal am I right? I'm really loving how your hands and posture have been looking, so we're going to put some more oopf behind it. This stuff is excellent oopf material. Mix it up a bit, you know? Alright! Lets get started, just take him around with stirrups, get warmed up, get loose, relax!"

Get pumped up and you bet your students will get pumped too My friend always dismounted with a such a glow, you would have thought she just won an Olympic Gold Medal. She loved it, and she improved REALLY quick!
    02-12-2011, 09:46 AM
Thank you so much for those tips, Twogeldings, I'm sure they'll help a lot! (And they might just surprise my boss when I whip them out. It sounds like a great instructor skill to have!)

When I was learning, I learned by bantering and shouting from my boss and one of our senior riders. We'd joke back and forth as I flopped everywhere and, in the midst, they'd shout out instructions. After a while we figured it out: I was thinking too much! Once I pushed myself to start considering riding fun again and not a "job," my seat improved.

With the social situation this child is in, in addition to him being a thorn in the volunteers' sides, I've tried to take him under my wing as my little brother. (They look and act enough alike, haha.) I've given him little tips on riding throughout the recent months.
    02-12-2011, 11:15 AM
Why would you have him cantering before he is capable? That sounds irresponsible. He needs to learn how to sit the trot before he should be cantering. I am guessing with his position the horse may be going to fast for him

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