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newhorsemom 12-21-2008 01:44 PM

I need some advice - hopefully this is the right forum for this post. This time of year my daughter doesn't get the chance to ride our horse very often and now we might be losing our arena access for a couple of months. I can go out and ride during the week, but my daughter can't because she is in school and by the time we get out to the barn it is dark. I'm thinking of putting her back in lessons (with a lesson horse - we don't have a trailer) for a couple of months so that she can maintain her confidence and improve her skills. She prefers to ride english but she will ride western also. My question is what type of lessons would be most beneficial to her? Western, english, or dressage? She is only 7 and we're not a serious show family or anything, but I just want her to maintain what she has learned and improve her skills.

She is beyond horse crazy so she will be tickled pink with anything I offer!! :D

wanderlust 12-21-2008 01:51 PM

I think starting off with basic English lessons would be very beneficial. Then I think once she has mastered those basics she can focus on dressage. Dressage is a great foundation for a lot of riding practices.

KiwiRyder 12-21-2008 02:38 PM

I agree I would go english but at her age just try and find an instructor/trainer that keeps it fun and makes learning enjoyable for her. I'm glad that you stated she is horse mad and loves it cause when I was instructing one of my pet hates was parents that were forcing kids to ride cause they wanted them too or thought they should have a "sport" a kid that is screaming and not wanting to be there is not a happy kid nor a kid that is open to learning.
Also believe competing for kids should be fun not about the prize judged in a lead rein class and I commended all the parents for keeping it light hearted and friendly. Sorry so opinionated about kids and horses and don't have any kids of my own hehe but just breaks my heart to see kids not wanting to be there or even the other side of it in competition getting frustrated or angry with the horse cause they aren't winning I think if riding as kids is kept fun we will have more adult riders that don't get lost in the party/boy phase
Hope your little one grows into a fantastic rider!!

newhorsemom 12-21-2008 03:54 PM

Thank you for the comments!

Kiwi - I completely agree that this should all be about fun. Well, actually fun and hard work! :wink: I feel pretty strongly that a work ethic should be involved and fortunately my daughter readily grabs a shovel or broom at the barn without being asked and without a complaint (at 7-years old mind you)! She actually enjoys it. I just think it makes you appreciate your horse more and gives a stronger sense of responsibility. She loves anything to do with horses - and that includes mucking (really!)!

The main reason we have a horse is because, although I love horses also, she is crazy about them and we have a free place to board. I feel so lucky to be able to support her passion. My MIL keeps our horse, feeds our horse and cleans her stall for us (on the days we're not there). The down side to that is that when we go to the neighbors arena my MIL will give my daughter lessons and it is not all about fun for my MIL (MIL had big-time show career with HER daughter). It gets very stressful and I don't think it's much fun for my daughter. My daughter once had gotten to the point of sobbing because my MIL was yelling at her. It got pretty ugly, but my daughter will not give up riding and the horses even if it means getting yelled at. I now babysit the lessons my daughter gets because I won't allow my MIL to treat her like that again. We want to have fun. We want to learn it right and safe, but we do not have to have perfection.

Oops - sorry I got a bit on a tangent. That happens when I speak of my MIL! :oops:

We may do some 4-h type showing later down the road but right now we are just enjoying and learning, learning, learning. The horse we have loves my daughter and my daughter is in love with this horse.

PoptartShop 12-21-2008 04:42 PM

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I also agree- put her into the English lessons. :D She'll be happier, since that's what she likes. I think it'd be a great oppurtunity for her, to enjoy horses & lessons- & riding! That would be fun for her, & it's so great she loves horses so much!

anrz 12-21-2008 05:38 PM

I would go with regular english OR dressage, because both are (obviously) beneficial. I actually don't think that 7 is too early to start dressage. I started dressage lessons when I was 6 1/2 and was fine with it. I have a really good combination, though, because my instructor focuses on dressage AND Parelli/groundwork.

LizAndCollin101 12-21-2008 06:00 PM

I agree with Anrz ; dressage and english lessons would both be beneficial for her as long as they are mixed up. Perhaps 30mins english and 15 mins dressage and increase gradualyy?

I also dont think there would be any harm ; perhaps once a month or so getting the odd western lesson to give her a feel for what its like and to give her some direction on what she would to continue with.

Hope It Helps!

Joshie 12-22-2008 12:22 AM

I am going to go against the tide. Do you usually ride English or Western? What type of tack do you have? I'd stick with what you've been doing. If you normally ride Western I'd stick with that. My daughter started lessons at age nine (and the size of a 7 year old). She does Western.

Our 4H does mostly Western, not English. I would tend to speak with your local 4H and see what type of riding they tend to do. Also, what type of riding do you and your family do? What types of trainer do you have locally? I can tell you that around here I'd probably find it nearly impossible to find an English trainer.

Zab 12-22-2008 03:51 PM

It's not the dicipline but the instructor you need to chose.

My whole body shivers at the thought of dressage - because I've had some pretty bad instructors ;) Now I've learnt to love to make all these ''unecessary movements'' on the arena and working on collection etc, just like dressage is supposed to be. But still, if you mention dressage to me, the first thing you'll see is a pained look on my face before I realize that dressage isn't just what it was then, but can be other things. And I'm 21 years old and has been riding for 14 years now - I started off with english riding and always loved riding - but never liked the lessons. Untill about a year ago when I found an instructor on ''my level''. :)

So first thing to look at is how the instructor is - how does she/he handle the horses? What does he/she teach about how to handle them? etc. Find someone that's similiar to your own thoughts about how riding should be.

The min differense between diciplines on a basic level is the tack anyway, and perhaps the general mentality.

Then you can look on what tack you and your daughter normally use and so on.

~*~anebel~*~ 12-22-2008 04:01 PM

It all depends on eventually what your daughter would like to persue. I would personally go with the dressage or western lessons. Scrap the english lessons unless it's with a good coach that will help her learn to ride properly, and teach her good horsemanship basics on the ground without compromising her safety.
In my experience as a rider starting out at a young age (I started riding at 7 with no prior horsey experience) with english coaches, I have spent most of my riding career after riding with these "trainers" building up my confidence again, re-learning how to do things and eliminating bad habits. It is only with english trainers that I have been pushed too far too fast, been put on unsafe and unsuitable horses and been taught things blatantly wrong. I had a short stint of reining lessons with a western coach and they were amazing, I've also been to cattle penning clinics and ridden at various western barns, all with wonderful instruction and safe horse practices.
Also in my experience with dressage instructors, even the ones that are "awful" they are still better than most of the "good" english trainers. They aren't about to throw your kid on a green broke TB, and they are going to make sure your daughter learns proper equitation before chucking her over 3' fences.

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