Groundwork ideas for kids and horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Groundwork ideas for kids and horse

We have a new 9-year old Arab mare that adores my daughter (7-years old) and my daughter her. We keep her at my MIL house and we try to go out to see her 4-days a week or so. When we go out there my daughter spends lots of time out in the pasture just hanging out with our horse and the two of them have grown quite fond of each other.

I would love for my daughter to have some fun projects to do with our horse in the round pen before we ride, maybe 10 minutes, 15 at most. I would be right there with her of course but someway that she can learn communications skills and have a goal apart from riding. My daughter has mentioned that she would like to teach her horse something and I told her that sometimes it takes weeks or months for a horse to learn - no worries for my daughter (could she actually be learning patience?) I would love any ideas for something simple and hopefully fun that a child could work on with supervision. Keep in mind that I'm not terribly experienced at training either but I'm very excited to learn!

I was thinking maybe teaching her how to square up? I'm open to any ideas, it doesn't have to be anything useful. Just another bonding, fun, new experience for a young girl and her horse.
newhorsemom is offline  
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 07:51 AM
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What an exciting adventure the two you you have in front of you! Discovering the love and need for horses will last a life time if you do it properly.

I've discovered that mares in particular can be the most loyal once you gain their trust. The first thing I would work on is respect and patience. Your horse must know that you are the Alfa animal. Access to a round pen will be a huge help.

Especially because of the inexperience the two of you have, I would pick up a book to start you off. Clinton Anderson has several that would work for you. A book on ground training is where I would start; then I would move on to (or even at the same time), lunging and round pen exercises. I recommend reading for several reasons. The first is because it is reading and anytime you can teach a child to use books as a reference, that is great. Next reason is because you can read the pertaining chapter over and over until it makes sense - and you can take it with you to the horse.

Patience is a word you will hear and read over and over. It takes time for a horse to understand what you are asking and time for you to understand HOW to ask it. Read - that is my suggestion.

Besides Anderson, books by Chris Cox, Mary Twelveponies, John Lyons, Monte Roberts, and others are great. Just don't buy into too many of their products!

After a liftime of horses (I'm older then dirt) I still use my "library" of reference books even if it is just as a refresher.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

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post #3 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 11:09 AM
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I would check your local library for horse training videos and books some are very good. Look for ground work videos. I think it would help your daughter if she could watch a professional do it first. Clinton Anderson is really good because he shows both a lazy and a nervous horse and how they react differently. You might check ebay. I watch mine over and over and over again.

Once thing she can start with is getting the horse to respect her space. Teach it to back by standing to off the the side of the horse's front quarter. Stand about four feet a way, she should mark that with duct tape on her lead rope. With a 4 foot stick, or whip. First tape the air toward the horse and count 1, 2, 3, 4 then tap the string 1, 2, 3, 4 then tap the clip on the lead rope attached to halter 1, 2, 3, 4 then tap the horse on it's shoulder. As soon as it takes a step back stop and rub horse with stick at any step you are in. Then do it again. Then work up to 2 , 3 and 4 steps.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 05:23 PM
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What about doing basics for now? games that improve her riding and her communications with her horse?

Hope there are some ideas that might work for you guys.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 07:57 PM
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I'm new to this list & already feel comfortable here after reading a number of posts! I'm an animal trainer & horsemanship instructor, and (was) a hoofcare practitioner, not currently practicing that because I have 2 little kids & can't do it often enough not to do my back in!

Great idea, to get her skills & communication up with the horse before she rides! If when she's experienced she get's in the habit of still doing a few games before riding, it can be like 'pre-flight checks' to see what the horse is feeling like that day & whether she's ready to ride too, so is a good safety measure.

I would be getting her to teach the mare to yield(move softly with understanding, not escape in fear or resist the pressure) away from various signals & direct contact(finger pressure, rope pressure, whip/stick...), so that she can control where she goes - forward, back, right, left.... if the mare already knows these cues, still good practice for your daughter, to teach her (more)patience and the importance of timing & instant reinforcement. Also teaches her to be expressive and effective with her bodylanguage.

I would be teaching your daughter how to use approach & retreat to desensitise her horse to all sorts of toys & stuff. Another one for timing & patience, but will also teach the horse that she can trust your daughter, even in the face of scaries.

And to put the above into fun practice... obstacles, targetting - get the horse to go and touch or put a foot on whatever you direct her to - driving, in & out the horse trailer, go for walks together.... let your imagination & sense of safety be the only limits!

While I don't follow Parelli, or anyone else particularly - bit of a mix n matcher - I think a lot of what he has is great for beginners & kids, especially his '7 Games' and I can highly recommend it. You could buy the 7 Games DVD, &/or his book, which has all the basics in it, but you should also be able to find the relevant info if you did a google search on it, for free.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-22-2008, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, so many great suggestions! Interestingly enough, we had about 20 minutes to kill this morning so we turned on the tv and a Clinton Anderson program was on and we watched it together. He was doing groundwork & getting a horse to walk over a tarp. It was great and we enjoyed watching. I will be on the lookout for some of his books of dvd's.

Love the games idea's I think we have plenty of fun ideas from the links - thank you!

Yes, loosie I agree that some groundwork is a great way for her horsemanship (and mine for that matter!) to develop. Our mare makes this very easy for my daughter though! Today we worked a little in the round pen with leading at a walk and trot, stopping, and moving over. Our horse does pretty much anything my daughter asks, but we're still going to work on these things occasionally. It's a little different in the saddle, however, because Lily wants goes one way and my daughter wants to go the other way! Luckily Lily goes at a slow pace with my daughter and my daughter really has to get after her just to jog. With me, I just barely cluck and she goes right into a jog. I think it's ok that my daughter has to work a little to steer and go - it can only make her a better rider, right?!

Anyway, we ended the session with a little walk down the road and our mare is a champ! The other horses went crazy when we left but Lily never even hesitated. In fact I think she liked it! We had a blast.

I love all of the suggestions and I can now mix it up when we go over for our visits! Thanks again for ALL the great ideas!!!
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-24-2008, 08:48 PM
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Please every one remind a child with a horse never to tie the rope to themselves. I read a story in the paper a year or 2 ago of a 12 year old that had a great relationship with her horse and happen to tie the rope around her waist. The horse spooked and sadly dragged the little girl to her death. That has stuck in my memory. My daughter might get tired of me someday of my safety instruction but I don't think they can't repeated enough.
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-29-2008, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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Good advise boonesar! I'm pretty adamant about ANYTHING around my kid's neck or body - not just around horses. It's a very strict rule at our house. I always give them a "what if" when I remind them - in the hopes that they will eventually start thinking of these things on their own (or at least when they have their own kids!). In the barn I always remind them to hold the lead rope in such a way that if the horse takes off for any reason the rope won't wrap around their hand and drag them away. When they do it correctly on their own I always make sure to let them know they've done it the right way and they are "thinking smart"!

Thanks again for bringing it up!
newhorsemom is offline  

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