what age is appropriate for beginning riding lessons? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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what age is appropriate for beginning riding lessons?

I know some of you on here are instructors and some of you have children, what age do you think a child should begin lessons?
I have a 3yr old granddaughter that started lessons in March and after being present for a few of them I'm kinda thinking that we're paying for a pony ride and I can do as much or more with her at home at this age. She has a horse, Judy Judy Big Ears, a standardbred 20yr old mare, and she has a new pony who needs more training and experience and she's been riding Judy at home on a leadline,mostly at a walk and I'll have her ride with her arms stretched up not holding onto anything, walk down into a shallow roadside ditch and back up out of it.I want her to feel the horses movement and relax and move with her.
As for her lessons she does love Miss Kim and she loves being at her barn, sheep,goats,horses,baby pigs and bunnies. Kim came highly recommended and she holds the Little Buckaroo Rodeos at her place,she does lessons,training, summer day camps and recently has certified and begun therapeutic riding programs.
Chloe's lessons have usually been on leadline,started with Kim and on barn lesson pony. The last month or two Kim is always handing her off to go talk to someone else that just came up or has something else she has to stop and do with a horse right then and so her assistant, a teenage guy, Chloe doesn't like, or her neice that's visiting her, and the girl turned her loose on the lesson pony and ponies being ponies he did the run a way thing and off the side she went. Not really injured,just scrapes,and I know if you ride you'll fall sooner or later and now Chloe's scared if the pony or horse speed up at all.
I'm thinking we should just stop the lessons for now.
She could still go for the day thing where they ride the ponies, do crafts, watch movies or do pony painting. I really think I can do as much teaching at home with her at this age and when she's older and more attentive we can start again.
What are your thoughts on children this young taking lessons? Appreciate any input and any suggestions for at home games to learn on Judy.
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 12:50 AM
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Well, I'm a "do as I say and not as I do" kind of mom-with-a-horse. My oldest is 10, and is yearning to ride (not my mare, but one of the lesson horses would be ok) and I'm starting to think about getting him a lesson here and there. My 4 year old, no way. I'm too scared to put him on a horse, even though he really wants to ride (I want to do what mommy does.) May be different with girls, but he screams when he laughs, has no fear and doesn't listen to directions so well. We're working on his ground manners...
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post #3 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 12:55 AM
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3 is a little young to pay for lessons, I'd quit paying if I were you- But what's important is that she's exposed to horses!
Lesson kids usually get the most experiance/knowledge around 5-7 at least in my experiance.
I hope she becomes a great horse enthusiest someday!

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post #4 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 12:59 AM
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I think 3 is a little young for riding lessons

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post #5 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 01:02 AM
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Age 3+

When starting so young, it has to be monitored very closely. The right horse needs to be used. And It can't be more than once a week.. their bodies aren't ready for that. So yes the first few years will be pony rides. The child can't do any more until they're older.. but these pony rides will slowly evolve into them participating more with steering, etc.

It's better to start at a therapeutic barn for the little ones, because they get side walkers, broke broke broke horses, and all the time in the world. When they get older around 5-7, they can move onto the more lessony structured facilities if they're still interested.

For at home, I would be VERY careful about starting a child with horses so young. It's better left to the professionals that are equipped and trained to respond.

That is my opinion of course :) From experience

Please don't expect too much of your grand daughter. The most important part of horse riding is balance. So while it may seem just like "pony rides" your grand daughter is building muscle memory, her balance is improving, and in time so will her posture. Then she'll be ready for more.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 07-02-2012 at 01:04 AM.
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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LOL. I know what you mean about working on those ground manners. My daughter said when the pony stated to run Chloe started to scream, I told her the pony probably took that as "go faster".
I really don't want to stop lessons because she fell, it's more a combination of paying Kim and then Kim doesn't do the lesson,heck one evening I ended up walking the pony and her around the arena, and at her age the attention span is short.
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post #7 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 01:04 AM
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3 is far too young to be paying for and expecting much out of a lesson program. We typically don't teach kids younger then 7 simply because 5-6 still lacks muscle control to effectively learn to post the trot and steer at the canter in some cases. Also, an hour with a horse is too long for some young attention spans and parents get tired of paying for trail rides and grooming etc much like you're experiencing. At three, if you have a kid safe horse and are ok with her riding (I think it's too young period but thats just me) walking etc on a lead at home will be suffient until she's older IMHO.
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post #8 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 01:07 AM
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At the age of three there is not a lot anyone can teach a tiny tot.
I use to do a lot of teaching and rarely took many child under the age of five for an actual lesson and the five years old children were taken out for rides rather than lessons.
The reason for this was so that they got the feel of the horse, relaxed, gained confidence and learned to enjoy riding.
I hate that todays method of teaching (at least in the UK) is to get a child into the correct position, taught to post to the trot rather than learning a good sitting trot first, (once the rising trot is learnt then it is difficult to get them to do a sitting trot)
Young children do not have the strength to ride 'correctly' I will make sure they are holding their reins correctly, keep their heels down (not jammed right down either) and that is basically it. Rides out will be chatting together, looking at wold life and generally just getting the feel of the horse. Simple fun exercises at the stand still give the young rider confidence.
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post #9 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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She's been riding Judy on a leadline for over a year at home and before that we used to take her to a place where they did hand walking horse rides, $25/hr and she'd cry and beg us to turn around and go back when we left after an hour of riding, that's when I decided we might as well go ahead and buy and have one at home.
She's definitely an enthusiast already. She knows most of the major breeds, most tack by name and how its used like saddle,reins,bridle,bit,halter and leadline and she knows where the horses frog is located. She also knows about every episode of Horse Land by heart, unfortunately so does her mama, her baby sitter and myself. She also knows that Judy is fed beetpulp, oats, alfalfa cubes, hay and apples and horse
goodies. She's into barrel racing and pole bending, at a walk, and she's told us she wants to be a flag girl too.
I thought structured lessons on a "lesson pony" would be the next step but I guess ponies are ponies,like that quote about ponies on Hunter's posts and I just don't think she's attentive enough for the lessons to benefit her at this stage.
There's pics of her on her pony and of her on Judy on my user profile.
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post #10 of 17 Old 07-02-2012, 02:25 AM
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I'm glad she loves horses, but that doesn't change the fact that her little body can't take it. Even if she doesn't appear tired, she needs these kind of mellow lessons at first. When she's older, then she can start to get more involved.

When I worked at a riding center as a beginning instructor, I taught little ones and within a few months, they got to the point where they could steer, stop, navigate, and even get some trotting out of their horse (with a side walker/leader there as support) they did not get off lead at all. I did not lunge them either because while a lungeline is like a long leadrope, you still don't have 100% of control over the horse and the child cannot fully control the horse.

Now if your grand daughter was around 7-9 or older, then yes she should be more involved. But since she's 3.. she's not physically ready. And the horse will be too much for her.. even a babysitting type.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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