I need some advice about a student of mine...
I have a student who is 12 years old. She has been riding for almost 4 years now and is what I would call a natural rider, everything just comes so easily to her and she is a beautiful rider. She is successfully showing and jumping on the 'B' circuit now and is slowly migrating into the 'A' circuit.
Here's were the problem lays: Shes been riding this quarter horse who is about 16hh and has just reached his 18th birthday. He's getting arthritus in his legs and jumping just plain hurts him. He's still really sweet on the flat and everything. Karli (my student) has leased this horse from our farm for the last 2 years and is crazy about him. But, she's TOO crazy about him. I talked to her parents and Karli (separetly) and Karli really really wants to start doing some eventing. Thor (the horse) just doesn't have it in him anymore. Even to do cross rails is tough on him. I talked to her parents and they said they did have the funds to start looking for a horse for Karli of her very own. Something that she can grow up with and learn from without spending a whole an arm and a leg for the horse. I can't seem to get it in Karli's head that it's time to give Thor a life-long break. It's not like he is going anywhere! He will stay right here on the farm and she can see him everyday and hack around on him whenever she wants! I'm thinking that maybe she is thinking that if she doesn't love him, no one will. (Which definitely isn't the case!) Any ideas/suggestions to get into this little girl's mind that it's time to move on? I've shown her lots of different horses, we've even gone to look at other horses, and she ALWAYS finds something wrong with them, and reasons why they wouldn't work for her! I'm at teh end of my rope here and don't know what to do!
Thats though you really can't make someone move on if they don't want to. Though its hard to see why should would want to stop herself from moving up! Maybe just assign her to ride different horses in her lessons and only let her ride thor outside of lessons? Good lucky maybe just try talking to her again and asking what she really wants to do and explain that you have to move up form some horses to get better but they are always the best to go back and just hack around when you want to just plod around.
It may also be easier to explain that Thor is an old man it is just too hard on him to ask him to do those things and it could genuinly hurt him. Would she ask a 60 year old man to compete in the 100m hurdles at the olympics? Sometimes the only reason to get through girls like that is to make them see what is best for the horse.
Yes, you need to start teaching her the most important thing about showing horses, and horesmanship in general. Knowing when to move on. Explain to her that it hurts him to jump anymore and he is old and just plain can't be ridden hard. Kids don't often "get" this and you are really going to have to sit down with her and talk to her heart to heart.
We have had kids like that at our barn. It's great that they get attached to horses but if she wants to be a serious rider she's going to have more then 1 horse in her life. Regardless of what she wants to do, if jumping hurts this horse, he needs to be retired from jumping. I would sit her down and explain that to her. He has worked hard in his life and deserves to be treated well. As responsible horse loving people you need to make the right choices that are best for the horse. From that point on, the choice is up to her. If she really wants to show and progress, she can ride other horses. If it's more important to her to ride this one horse, well, that's her choice. I have a feeling she'll start off choosing the horse, and then gradually realize that she does want to jump/show and eventually move on. Some kids do great when you give them a horse to 'wean' them off the other horse, some kids don't like to be pushed and will move on when they're ready.
You could set a good example for her. You can't change someone else's feelings. You can, however, refuse to lease your horse, especially if you think your boy needs and deserves a lovely life of retirement.
Well that's really hard, as i am 13 & understand how hard it must be for her to come to terms with never jumping him again, she would be feeling as if she would never ride him again, & ALSO more that likely as you were saying/typing, she would be thinking 'if she didn't love him no body would love him, maybe you should play the line.... if you really love him you will understand that he is in pain when jumped, say that she should not drop her future riding for the horse, as the horse would not wont that nor would she in the long ruin. she should get a horse that can teach her more & advance in her riding, but when she has some spare time etc, etc she can maybe take him on a light hack etc. really push the fact that Thor is not what he used to be & he is in pain. :) Good luck
She loves the horse, she is old enough to understand that he is old and can't jump. I admire you are such a nice instructor trying to deal with the issues this is causing her. But you need to just tell her the horse is suitable only for light flatwork and hacking. If she wants to do anything else you won't lease her the horse anymore. Do you have any other horses she could lease or use for lessons instead of actually buying a new horse. Or maybe she could just lease an off site mount and bring it to your barn until she gets used to the idea of completely moving on to another horse
Thank you so much for the advice guys! I definitely will be having another talk with Karli and just sit her down and say look this is what's going to happen...I love the analogy of a 60 year old man jumping hurdles...I'll definitely being using that hahaha it will help lighten the mood too. Unfortunately, we don't have any horses right now at her level that she would be able to do a whole lot on. We are kind of the geriatric unit of the equines :D Also, whenever I talk about him being in pain, she starts to tear up, and that makes it even harder on both of us. She knows he's in pain but she knows he loves jumping (even if it is hard on him, he absolutely loves it!)
Keep these ideas and words of advice coming! I'll probably have a sit down talk with her on Tuesday or Wednesday
Here are some videos of her and Thor:
hntrjmpr, you sound like an awesome teacher! I am sure you have already said most of the stuff I can suggest. I would def tell her that she has natural riding talent and she is young and has a lifetime of riding in front of her. If she decides to only ride Thor she will have to coast and not really "make any new progress." I would emphasize she can ride Thor whenever she wants for fun, but the harder more difficult stuff should be on a horse that is young and able. Not sure where you are in Michigan but with the economy the way it is everywhere can't imagine there is not some nice suitable mount for her for maybe even a free lease. I understand her not wanting to "buy" a new horse while she is still so attached to Thor.
Make her realize how lucky she is to be able to have a horse like Thor to have fun on but also parents willing to get her a new horse to move up on. Let her know that if she isn't willing to try a new horse she probably won't be able to show again and that would be a shame with her talent. Make sure she knows Thor won't mind if she rides someone else, that he will enjoy the vacation from work.
I hate to say it but also if you go look at other horses and she makes excuses why its not right, tell her to remember the horse isn't going to replace Thor just be a new challenge. I don't know if you want to go this far but you could help her parents pick a new mount and bring it to your barn and ask her to "help" you with the new horse. (okay a little sneaky but......) LOL Good luck and kudos for being such a good instructor!
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