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How to teach soft hands to children

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  • Soft reins for sensitive hands

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    09-12-2013, 10:55 AM
  #21
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaydee    
I learnt to ride when I was about 4 and wasn't allowed to hold the reins until I could ride balanced without them - arms folded with a neck strap just in case I needed to grab at something
Exactly, this is how I teach my daughter

I have a video (made last year when she was about 4 or 5)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oegzzQdvmg

I do the same with her older brothers.
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    09-12-2013, 12:05 PM
  #22
Foal
My trainer has the new kids ride with long reins, holding them at the end, or with one hand, that way they have to learn to balance without leaning on the horses mouth. To steer they are taught to move the hand far out to the side they want to go (an exaggerated form of neckreining I guess). Only later on, once they can ride balanced at the walk and trot (both sitting and posting) do they get to pick up the reins with both hands.
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    09-12-2013, 12:19 PM
  #23
Green Broke
I'm not sure if this would help, since the issue isn't the reins slipping but instead that she raises them, but you could get the colored, rubber reins and have her stick to one of the colors? Maybe that will give her something to focus on, and keep her interested.

Rainbow Rubber Training Reins | Dover Saddlery
     
    09-12-2013, 12:35 PM
  #24
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clava    
Exactly, this is how I teach my daughter

I have a video (made last year when she was about 4 or 5)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oegzzQdvmg

I do the same with her older brothers.
I did the same with mine - and the 'around the world' thing too - that's what we called it anyway!!!
These things help children - and adults to feel relaxed and at ease on a horse
I love your daughter, so cute.
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    09-12-2013, 12:39 PM
  #25
Foal
Clava, great video! Thank you! I might consider a bit of bareback time to work on her balance. In the beginning would you run along side at the trot to make sure she doesn't slide off or have her hold the grab strap?

The one thing I get from all of you is that she shouldn't have the reins at all. I agree and am relieved to hear this.
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    09-12-2013, 12:41 PM
  #26
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by lchad    
Clava, great video! Thank you! I might consider a bit of bareback time to work on her balance. In the beginning would you run along side at the trot to make sure she doesn't slide off or have her hold the grab strap?

The one thing I get from all of you is that she shouldn't have the reins at all. I agree and am relieved to hear this.

Yes, stay by her side so she doesn't slide off (even with a grab strap you can slide off bareback when not used to it)
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    09-12-2013, 05:25 PM
  #27
Showing
My arab was an absolute treasure when working with children. For the first lesson I'd start haltering him. Often the child would express disappointment because she knew horses wore a bridle. OK. Switch head gear. He wouldn't move. I'd explain that he didn't trust that she knew how to use her hands. OK back to the halter and reins, then he'd start moving. Often children younger than 9 have an innate sense in what to do so I'd let them figure it out. Usually by the fourth lesson he'd work in a bridle. Often I wasn't teaching but merely observing how naturally these kids pick this up. And they all had wonderful sensitive hands. Not quite the same with older children.
     
    09-12-2013, 06:00 PM
  #28
Weanling
How bumbproof is your horse?

One thing i've done with young students is take a nice soft squishy ball and play catch. The 'problem' with younger children is the attention span and simply giving them a spoon and ball, well it gets boring quick. I put my mare on the lunge line with no bridle and play with the child. It works on their balance and how to move independently. They will twist to the side and need to isolate their hips and legs from their torso. They'll be focusing on something that isn't still. You can't space out of much if you're constantly doing something. This will get their coordination better to. Then you can say, 'keep on hand on the mane and only catch in one hand". This will start getting them to isolate their hands from each other too. I do this going both directions at a walk. Once the child can start focusing a little more and is thinking about their hands I move on. Your horse does need to be a saint though and you need a squishy ball just in case one of you has a total fail in playing catch. You'll want to start out in a smaller circle and slowly move out.

From there I set up obstacle courses in the round pen. I have the child weave through cones, ride up to a barrel and pick up an object, take it to another location, mount, dismount etc.

When the child is on the rail I have them do red light, green light to help them along with their focus. I also like to play simon says on the lunge line; ex "simon says reach back and touch her butt" "Simon says keep your hands in her mane for two strides" "simon says arms out like a bird" just make it fun to help her focus.

You've really got to keep kiddos doing stuff or they space out. It will be fun for her to pay attention with games and you'll teach her to get focused without any frustration.
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    09-12-2013, 06:37 PM
  #29
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by BreakableRider    
How bumbproof is your horse?
Very
Quote:
One thing i've done with young students is take a nice soft squishy ball and play catch. The 'problem' with younger children is the attention span and simply giving them a spoon and ball, well it gets boring quick. I put my mare on the lunge line with no bridle and play with the child. It works on their balance and how to move independently. They will twist to the side and need to isolate their hips and legs from their torso. They'll be focusing on something that isn't still. You can't space out of much if you're constantly doing something. This will get their coordination better to. Then you can say, 'keep on hand on the mane and only catch in one hand". This will start getting them to isolate their hands from each other too. I do this going both directions at a walk. Once the child can start focusing a little more and is thinking about their hands I move on. Your horse does need to be a saint though and you need a squishy ball just in case one of you has a total fail in playing catch. You'll want to start out in a smaller circle and slowly move out.
I've done games similar. I have played more games and I keep her very busy. But she has to be able at some point to stop games and ride? 15 lessons in. I think she's nervous and she has the reins high like a security blanket. I've done obstacle courses...honestly I don't think another game is the answer.
I'm repeating myself now.

I spoke to the previous owner of my horse and he has been ridden in an english hackamore so today I went and got him a side pull and roping reins. I'm going to try it on him but I would expect he will do fine in it. This will give my boy the kindness he deserves while this little girls works on her riding some more.

I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm very grateful for every reply here. You are all great! Thanks so much. I have new tack and a long list of great ideas to try.
     
    09-12-2013, 09:27 PM
  #30
Yearling
Part of teaching children is dealing with inconsistent hands unfortunately. What *I* do is first and foremost a thick, preferably rubber bit. And work on their balance, legs and seat. The hands will follow once the child really learns to ride the horse. Encourage the child to grab a hand full of mane to steady herself, or tie a thick piece of rope between the d-rings of the saddle to give her something to steady with. 8 really isn't the time to work on the hands, other than general correctness and reminding her to be nice with the bit...hence the rubber bit. Until she has a nice solid seat and leg she cannot have correct hands.
     

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