Originally Posted by Ian McDonald
This is an interesting question. On the one hand, it's a safe assumption that correcting a horse's undesirable behavior as we commonly think of doing it is best left for adults. A lot of these techniques require extensive experience and judgment to implement successfully. Certainly not for a child to be trying.
On the other hand, if the girl has an interest in horses you don't want to discourage it or plant fears in her that she doesn't need to have. I sometimes think that we experienced horse people can be the worst when it comes to that. We know too much about what can happen for our own good.
The best compromise may indeed be to find an experienced teacher with whom you and your daughter really click, so that things are gone about as safely as is possible. There are different styles of instruction out there so you really have your pick of the litter as far as instructors go. As for Rick Gore, Pat Parelli, myself, and the rest of the guys, it's important to keep in mind that we're all grown men. The things we do, a 10 year-old should not necessarily try to do. A 10 year-old needs a horse that will take care of her and won't over-react to the things that a kid is apt to do. This is a proven formula for success that is pretty much universally accepted. It's not that a child couldn't do something with a more difficult horse, but it becomes a question of how well she 'bounces' if you get my drift. ;)
Btw, small correction: Rick Gore isn't even 50 years old lol. :P
Thank you for the reply!
I'm trying to find opportunities for her, as she is so interested in horses and NH in particular.
As a non-horsey person, I'm trying to find my own balance. I started with the idea of oh NO, huge, dangerous animals! She needs constant supervision! And then we got to Barn #1 (pretty, fancy, show barn), where the kids were told to take the horses from the paddock on their own, to put them back there on their own--9 year olds, after 3-4 weeks of lessons (she had slightly more experience, but still). I inwardly rebelled at first, thinking NO WAY, but then seeing that "everyone is doing it" I sort of accepted that maybe it wasn't so bad / dangerous. But then one night, pitch dark, wind strong enough that walking was difficult, puddock locks frozen, her horse refusing to walk, and we are all alone--I had enough of that. Plust some other issues, and we changed barns.
More supervision at Barn #2, different approach, she is not left alone while brushing, and is given feedback on how and what to do, plus lesson horses are much better trained, more cooperative. So here I'm thinking--hey, she can get her horse from the paddock!
(From one extreme to another).
And the place where she volunteers, Barn Zero, is different atmosphere all together.
I'm trying to find my footing.
I love reading the responses here. Thank you, all!