Where Do We Start??

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Where Do We Start??

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    11-08-2013, 09:33 PM
Where Do We Start??

Hello HorseForum!! :)

So, next weekend will be the first time I have trained a beginner rider from scratch, as in never ridden a horse before. I've taught some kids that have been riding for a year or two, some that have been riding for a while, some that don't plan on riding and you just cart them around for a second.

I have the horse, liabilities, all of the fine work done, I just have one simple question. Not to be rude, but I'd rather just get an answer to what I'm asking, not a complete run down of my entire instructing plan behind the scenes. Thank you kindly :) The child I will be teaching is 8 years old, we will be riding English.

I am just wondering where to start with a beginner. I was thinking half the hour long lesson would be spent on the ground - learning how to groom and tack up. Once that is done, maybe throw her up on the horse and sort of put her in the right position and walk her around, letting her get used to the feel of the horse. While we walk, I might tell her not only what she should do, but why - You are setting your weight into your heels so that your center of balance is even, and you can sit down into the horse; you are sitting up straight so that you can actively RIDE, and not remain slouched, etc. (The simple definition of things - she's only eight, we can work into using her core and detailed stuff later, she probably won't care THAT much right off the bat :p) I always loved when my trainers told me WHY I was doing things.

Based on how she does, I'd love to lead her into some balancing exercises, as I am a big believer in the importance of balance. If anyone has any exercises off the top of their head, that would be wonderful :)

So essentially, I'm wondering a couple things -

What do you usually do in the first lesson once the kid is on the horse's back?
Does my plan (not set in stone, of course) sound like a good one?
What are some effective balance exercises you know of?

Thank you all SO much!! It is much appreciated!
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    11-08-2013, 11:03 PM
I think that sounds like a great plan! First lesson should be about learning how to behave around the horse and prepare the horse. Could teach her a little bit about the horse too, like show her what the frog is on the hoof just little things that can be interesting to learn haha. That's how my old trainer always started out her beginner riders. First lesson she mainly is on the ground but at the end gets them up there so they can get a feel for the position and walk around (in hand haha), that always brings the biggest smile to their face!

Balancing exercises sound great but that may be too much for her to take in in one lesson. Just go slow so its easier for her to retain it. Just make sure the lesson ends with a giant smile on her face!
    11-09-2013, 01:56 AM
I would suggest, make it a fun experience for her. No pressure, no making her feel insecure. You sound like a really sweet, caring person. I went to a horse show once, and the trainer there was so much fun, you could just tell, everyone loved her, everyone laughed and joked around, and all of her students placed the highest. Do whatever it takes to put her at ease, and make the experience pleasant for her.
    11-09-2013, 07:47 AM
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Agree that learning to handle the horse is very important.

When I start young riders as you are, I let them sit in the centre of the saddle and forget about making them stuff their heels down. This can cause tension and make the rider stiff right through their body. I let them find their own centre of balance and confidence way before setting about positioning them.
Yes, I have them hold the reins correctly but, the most important thing for a rider to learn is balance, confidence and how to sit deep. This is why i never teach posting at the trot before they can do a good sitting trot.

One thing I would advise you is that you have stirrups and leathers suitable for a smaller person, stirrups that are to big/ small are as dangerous as riding without a helmet.
    11-12-2013, 12:05 AM
Thank you all so much!!

I hadn't even thought about making sure not to rush her into pressing her heels down or anything. I'll have to be sure to tell myself, "it's only her first lesson, just make it fun." I mean, that's the main reason we all ride in the first place, right?

I'm definitely blessed to have a babysitter horse that will take care of her. I'll be able to just focus on her enjoyment. You don't think she'll get bored with too much time on the ground? I thought about splitting it at least 50/50 for a while, so that she stays interested. As she learns she can get more time in Oatsy's back.

Again, thank you so much for y'all's input. It's certainly helpful!!
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    11-12-2013, 12:09 AM
@Foxhunter ~~ Yes, she will be informed to have at least a bike helmet (I don't have a helmet that would fit her) and heeled boots. I have the appropriate leathers, though the irons may be a tad big ... I was thinking of investing in a spare set anyway. Thank you for this notice!
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    11-12-2013, 12:24 AM
In teaching my 8 yr old daughter to ride I found that that the whole "package" so to speak was just to complicated. Without a balanced seat it was overwhelming for her to control his head at the same time.

What worked for us was throwing her on a lunge line. Many hours spent working on balance. Little kids want to go fast. To them it is very uncomplicated. Put me in the saddle and lets GO!! Lol.

We spent about 2 months on the lunge line. Gave her the opportunity to trot (hands held to the side)....she thought that was a blast....and even canter without having to worry about the reins.

Bareback while being led was also a lot of fun for her.

Now that she has her seat somewhat established it is amazing how quiet her hands are. She is more comfortable in the saddle and is really doing sooooo much better on her own so to speak.
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    11-12-2013, 12:32 AM
Trails are also a great confidence booster for kids. If you have a horse that is suitable. Essentially they are just following the horse in front of them but for a child they are RIDING! ! :)
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    11-12-2013, 12:57 AM
Another piece of advice I would offer....and im rambling bc im in the midst of teaching an 8 yr old how to ride myself...lol. Is the first time she gets frustrated (and Inevitably she will) and takes it out on the horse....jerking the reins....kicking inappropriately etc....give her 1 warning and then get her down.

A child who wants to ride will be better for it. And they need to learn from the get go that acting out of frustration has no place in horsemanship. I have made my daughter dismount twice. Those instances have left the greatest impression. If she wants to ride she knows she needs to control her emotions.
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    11-17-2013, 01:57 AM

Thank you SO much for your input!! It is fantastic to hear from someone in a very similar situation! I pondered leaving her on the lunge for a little bit, but wasn't sure about it. Thank you for solidifying my decision, that definitely sounds like the ultimate idea! Thanks again!

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