My daughter is terrified of cantoring. She wants advice. Please help! - Page 6 - The Horse Forum
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post #51 of 59 Old 12-27-2013, 09:48 PM
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I skipped to the last page so this may have been suggested. For one thing, I see no issue with letting her walk trot until she decides she wants to canter but if she is really wanting it but only terrified by her own design then why not try a western saddle? It could give her a pseudo-confidence, enough to give it a shot with less fear.

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post #52 of 59 Old 12-27-2013, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Zexious View Post
It sounds to me like she wants to canter, if she sent mom online to get tips.
true, but I've definetly heard of/ met over bearing parents who are like "my kid wants this" and the kid is sitting there like "the hell I do"

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post #53 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 01:14 AM
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Reading everything, it seems that now she is very worried about the horse she is riding bolting.

The most important thing to do is to make sure that pony is going to take care of her. Get an experienced older child or small adult around the pony and get him desensitized. Get him where when someone screams, he calms down and stops. Get him where when someone gets shifted out of balance he slows down and stops. If he isn't going to be that pony for her, find a bombproof pony or horse that will. Then show your daughter that, it could really help her out knowing her horse will take care of her.

I agree with getting her to canter on the lunge line but i've also had great success in the roundpen, the approach I take depends on the person. I also think putting her in a western saddle for a few lessons might be beneficial, lots of kids like that extra security.

The very first thing I teach an new rider is how to execute a one rein stop. How to gently bring their hand out to the side, get the horse to bend down and to disengage the hindquarters. It builds so much confidence in a rider knowing that they have an 'emergency brake' and when they get uncomfortable can get a horse under control. The horse has to be trained to do a one rein stop however.

When the student is ready to go to the next gait I have them take only a stride or two then bend the horse down to a walk, walk for a bit then cue the horse to move up to the desired gait again. By only doing a couple strides at once it does a few things. First, they don't have a lot of time to fall out of position, next there isn't a lot of time for the student to build up a lot of anxiety about it, third is that it builds confidence. Loping can be scary stuff at first, especially when you are anticipating the horse going even faster. If you know you'll only be loping a couple of strides it isn't such a big deal. As the rider gets confident I build up the amount of strides. Then i'll move onto the lunge line to get their position where it needs to be.
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post #54 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by BreakableRider View Post
Reading everything, it seems that now she is very worried about the horse she is riding bolting.
I did bring that up in the first response but it seems that she's now riding a docile pony who is unlikely to canter without a lot of pushing, and is unlikely to continue if the rider isn't actually riding.

Originally Posted by ecasey View Post
My daughter told me that when she leans back, she feels like she's going to fall off, and that's the position the instructor tells her to take.
I re-read much of the thread and keep coming full circle to this. As I posted a few times in responses, this isn't a method I've ever heard or or seen. Perhaps it's just not "working" for your daughter because it's not a position she's comfortable taking.

At our current lesson barn I've seen countless new riders transition to the canter (on VERY pokey horses where the canter is no faster than the trot) within a handful of lessons. I've seen some very confident new riders do it within 2-5 lessons, and most others have done it by 10 lessons.

Have you considered trying a different coach with different tactics, and if it's a group lesson environment, opt for some private lessons instead - perhaps embarrassment about how others will laugh if she fails has a lot to do with it as well.

The first thing I'd do is ditch the "lean way back" position if that what's she's explaining is her biggest fear. All our coaches focus on not leaning FORWARD or not hunching shoulders forward (basically, maintain a nice upright position), but leaning back to the point where the rider would feel like they're unbalanced in the opposite way just seems counterintuitive to me.

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post #55 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 10:01 AM
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Samstead--That's true. If that is really the case, though, it's not as though they can hop onto the horse behind her and force her to canter. xD

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post #56 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 11:09 AM
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OP, I think you've gotten tons of good advice here so I'm probably just repeating but I too have children in the age range of yours and taught them how to handle a canter. As mentioned, the horse's personality is of utmost importance. I taught my kids to canter on a 30 year old Tennessee Walker who tolerates just about anything and anyone and has to be pushed into a canter/lope. His canter is also very easy going and comfortable to adjust to. Cantering really is like learning how to ride a bike. It's a feel that basically needs to be overcome mentally first and then one's sense of balance has to take over. Once comfortable with just the transition and feel, then the fine tunings can be applied. I agree that leaning back helps one sit deeper in the saddle, but the leaning WAY back would make even me feel uncomfortable and I've ridden for 25 years. I would tell her to lean back far enough to where she could reach the cantle of her saddle with one hand, but that should be enough. Maybe even tell her to grab the cantle for a stride or two, and continue to have her keep that back straight and shoulders back and then talk her through rocking that pelvis to the beat. Riding a canter is all about rhythm and balance and that will come once she is comfortable with the whole idea in her head. Since she has had a few mishaps, it may take a little longer, but with time, it will come. My 9 year old learned how to canter when she was 7. She learned in tiny baby steps. And she learned by riding along side my horse. We have a home tilled track on our pasture and every time we rode, we'd do a lot of transitions from walk to trot, and every time we trotted, we'd trot a tad faster and faster (and she's an excellent poster by the way, which I think is an important skill to keep your balance in control while speeding up), until my horse was finally loping and her horse finally fell into a few canter strides just to keep up and then I'd slow us right back down. And she did all this in an English saddle. It was actually her saddle of choice because she felt she had better control of her legs on the thinner English stirrup leathers. Anyway, for us it was more of a game and it developed naturally just messing around together. If she felt uncomfortable, she knew to sit down deep and he slowed right down. Now she wants to lope so much, we had to get her a younger horse, who is still very broke, but young enough to handle her. LOL! Oh and the one rein stop is also a super important lesson to teach them. A child is never going to win a tug of war if a horse decides to bolt. My daughter who is now 9, almost 10, uses this method on her new horse and it works beautifully. It's a great ebrake skill to know even if you don't use it on a daily basis. It gave my daughter even more confidence just knowing she had the option, and it's much more controlled and easier on the horse's mouth too, as long as he knows how to do it. Anyway, I don't know if I said anything new, but I guess what it all boils down to is time. She'll get there. Most of us are introduced to a bike when we're 4-5 years old and I don't think I've met a kid yet that's not racing a buddy down the driveway by the time they are pushing 10. That kind of comfort didn't happen overnight or with one or two rides a month. So that's the key, time, plenty of exposure, and the "want" to do it. Eventually it becomes second nature and fun! Good luck! :)
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post #57 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks very much for all the great suggestions. The pony is not a problem at all, he's very docile and gentle. He just needed to get used to having a leopard on his back. :)

If I were a better rider myself, I'd do some of that riding side by side stuff. As it stands now, I'm in no position to be helping her, other than by asking questions of you guys.

I'm going to have a friend of mine longe her. I bought what I call and "oh ****" strap today to hook onto the front of the saddle so she can hang onto it. When she decides to give it a try again, that is!
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post #58 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 04:08 PM
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Kitten had a grab strap on her English for awhile. It was a security blanket and gave her a tiny safety net that boosted her confidence.
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post #59 of 59 Old 12-28-2013, 04:44 PM
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Yup. My daughter has one too. She still tended to grab the front of the saddle more than her grab strap, but hey, whatever works. Nothing wrong with holding on to help stay put and keep your balance. Definitely better than using the reins and yanking on the pony's mouth. The visual images of her "leopard" moves had me laughing out loud. :) Just keep it up. Isn't it fun to be doing this with our children? I've been doing this forever and I'm having more fun than ever now that my kids are old enough to play with me. :)
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