Lessons to a 6 y/o? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Lessons to a 6 y/o?

Hello!
My younger brother has shown an interest in riding horses. I told him when I come home on the weekends I can give him lessons. He told me he didn't need lessons, he already knows how to ride and that he can probably beat me! Lol. I just told him it was practice.. :)

So I put him on one of the horses at the barn with an old western saddle. He was pretty scared so I let him have one hand on the horn, and he neck reined with the other. We're working on finding shorter stirrups so he can officially ride next time ;)

My question is.. What is too much to teach? Should I teach balance (maybe lose the hand on the horn?) first? Leg pressure? I know I'm teaching heels down, because that's a safety thing. He is doing well with his reining, backing, and moving her forward.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 09:54 PM
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Well, by the time I was six I was loping a barrel pattern in shows. I think it depends on the determination of the child and how well they take in new stuff. If he is really interested in it, go until he says stop. If he is just starting to take a liking to it, keep everything going kind of slow.

I don't think there's ever too much to teach, just so long as you are patient and realize his individual needs as a rider.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 09:58 PM
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What I would do is take the saddle off and teach him balance that way. My Grandpa's rules for us as kids was no saddle until you could put it on yourself (or for parades and 4-H practicing). It was the best thing. I've got great balance because of it.

You don't have to be that extreme but I can tell you, it would be very beneficial for him.

You can teach as much as he can comprehend. Like Tennessee I was doing gaming patterns by that age. So, whatever he is able to understand and do successfully, teach him!

Unless it weighs a ton... it's just a horse. Draft horse motto.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Ladies! :)
I just want to start him off with a good, solid position and no bad habits. It's much more "boring" to work on position not speed, but it's important! :) We'll just see how he progresses!

I thought about taking the saddle off because that's how I had to learn too, and I think I have a more "natural" position because of it!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman
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post #5 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Eliz View Post
Thanks, Ladies! :)
I just want to start him off with a good, solid position and no bad habits. It's much more "boring" to work on position not speed, but it's important! :) We'll just see how he progresses!

I thought about taking the saddle off because that's how I had to learn too, and I think I have a more "natural" position because of it!
It would be a good idea. My mom was the one that taught me how to ride (the basics at least) and she didn't let me use a saddle until I could lope bareback.
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post #6 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 10:17 PM
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I had a what felt like 1200 pound Hereford western saddle (even now it's still heavy to me). I'll just say it was a LONG time before I could lift that thing by myself.

I always preferred riding bareback and still do.

Unless it weighs a ton... it's just a horse. Draft horse motto.
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 10:45 PM
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Shoot, I couldn't saddle my own horse until I was like 11 or 12 (my saddle until I was bout 9 weighed around 35lbs and after that, it was a full roping saddle that weighed about 45lbs). Not that I was weak, I was just too stinking short to get it up on those tall horses I was riding. I also think that bareback would be a good thing to at least work on even if you don't want to start with it. Just remember to keep it fun. Work on the fundamentals, but don't get all harpy about everything. First and foremost, he needs to enjoy it.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-09-2010, 11:57 PM
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I was taught initially bareback, and I actually like to teach that way...kids are actually better that way, learning, than many adults, ime. So if you can, I would go the bareback route...especially if the horse lunges well, and is rather spook free.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 01:00 AM
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I'd start off just getting him to feel confident and to respect the horse.

You said he still feels a little nervous - so just get him doing little fun things while building his confidence. Constantly correcting his position won't make him feel good. I'd practice doing little games with the horse that incorporate steering and change of pace. Teach him that the horse is an animal and has feelings and doesn't want to have its mouth yanked on or sides kicked. Try bending up at the walk, then trotting back.

Mention something to work on for the lesson - like it might be heels down, or hands up, or sit back. Tell him at the beginning what its going to be so he only has to focus on that. I find a lot of young kids can't remember to check their hands, leg position and control the horse.

In my experience kids don't really like lots of "flatwork" or lunge sessions. It might be the best thing for them, but above all they want to have fun. Once he's safe on his own if you have another horse ride with him and play little games, or go on trails.

Riding bareback could be good, but not always. I know lots of kids who feel uncomfortable or unsafe bareback. If he's confident doing it give it a go - but if he isn't don't push him.

Also, it sounds like you live away from home. Maybe your brother wants to ride so he can spend some time with you? Try and make it fun and enjoyable for both of you.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-10-2010, 01:55 PM
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Use fun analogies for things to help him remember and still keep it fun. For example, for his hands, tell him to pretend he is holding ice cream cones and that is his hands tilt the ice cream will fall off!
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