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ocalagirl 12-28-2010 09:29 PM

Kids and Horses
I have had the best experience this year teaching some really cool kids. When I started teaching two years ago, I only hoped to make some extra cash to pay for my horse. Yet somehow working with my students has really changed my life and become my favorite part of the week.

Watching those kids grow up has been great. One of my students couldn't canter when she came to me. I helped her buy her first horse, and she showed on the local circuit this year. The local trainers sure didn't like that I was bringing students to shows. I'm only 17, so that was somewhat annoying to them. I've been working in this area for years, though, so I didn't see the issue. Anyways, my student and I worked really hard throughout the season. In January I will be attending the awards banquet, happily watching her accept her reserve champion for 18" crossrail equitation, reserve champion for 2'0" equitation, and a 6th place for 2'0" hunter. The trainers don't say mean things about us anymore :) Did I mention that for the first 9 months of the year, we only had 2 jumps to practice on? (In contrast to a course of 7ish)

One of my greatest challenges has been starting a rider on a horse. I saw another student get on a horse for the first time last year. The other day I saw her jump her first vertical with equitation that George Morris would applaud (not to brag :) I just cannot believe how far she has come! What a pleasure to work with such motivated, determined girls.

So I guess the whole point of that was to brag on my students, but I am curious about other's experiences teaching kids. How do you keep them interested? What exercises are most useful? What have your students taught you?

tinyliny 12-28-2010 09:41 PM

That is totally awesome! I applaud you for bringing kids into the world of horses. Sometimes younger folks make good teachers for kids since you might better remember what it's like to be a little kid.

I have given some lessons to friends and I find it really rewarding. On the one hand, I have a unique viewpoint that has helped them with things that their previous instructor was not able to verbalize well enough for them to "get it". On the other hand, lacking the years of experience, I am not always sure just where to start when I see someone who needs help in so many areas. And, a logical progression is essential to putting B after A instead of the other way around.

tinyliny 12-28-2010 09:44 PM

Oh, after reading your post I thought I'd answer your question more fully. The thing that helps the most is being postive. Duh! You'd think everyone would know that. Surprisingly, many teachers spend the whole lesson pointing out what the student did wrong.
Since riding can only be learned by feel and in many cases it's by accident that we learners do the right thing, in order for us to duplicate that right thing in the future, we need to KNOW what it feels like right at the time we are doing it.

So, when my student does something good, I immediately point it out and ask her is she can "feel" it, or does she know what she did to get that thing.
I say a zillion times , "I like how you are . . . . sitting up tall, keeping your thumbs up, giving a nice release, keeping your leg back . . ;. you name it!

ocalagirl 12-28-2010 10:01 PM

I totally agree! I am leaving in March (sadly), and my students have all said that they don't want to go to a "mean" trainer. The kids really don't respond to only negative comments. I have learned to me so much more creative too. For example, one of my students won't sit her canter. I know she is a strong rider, so I just told her to ride without stirrups at the canter. She is having fun and getting a better seat (I don't know how no stirrups can be fun, but apparently she likes it).

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