Western Lessons & Confidence-building - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 5 Old 08-27-2011, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Danville, IL
Posts: 595
• Horses: 4
Western Lessons & Confidence-building

Hey, folks, I'm in a little bit of a jamb.

In the past month or so, it's been in influx of students with no (or very little) confidence. One is a pre-teen (who will be 12 soon) and the other a 50-something adult. I, myself, didn't do a whole lot special to build my confidence; I just rode, rode, and kept on riding. But these people, who take 1-2 lessons a week, don't have that sort of liberty.

After they learn "Stage One" in the round pen (posture, turning, backing, sitting the jog and maybe the lope), we take them into what we call the "side pasture" (a grass lot that we use both as an "arena" and infrequent pasture turn-out) to do amateur barrel racing (at the walk, jog, lope -- if capable) as well as pole bending, the bucket race, and sometimes even a slower-paced flag race.

I've thought about building an "obstacle course" for our different-staged riders. Have two parts; one with weave poles, something to pick up/drop/carry, gate or mail box to open/shut, and maybe even some smaller (6"-2') jumps. But if the rider doesn't even have enough confidence in the round pen, this course will be a moot point.

Does anyone have any tips on exercises I can do with them to help them out?? I've done the water cup/egg-in-spoon, rail touch, Simon Says, and more games with all ages. They seem to work, but only for a short period of time.

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative." (H.G. Wells)
| Missile Sweet Studio |
Creampuff is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 5 Old 08-28-2011, 02:45 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 40,792
• Horses: 2
I don't know that there are any tricks for building confidence in persons who have a shortage of it. It sounds like you have an amazing amount of tricks up your sleeve already. Your place sounds like a fun place to learn.

It's all in the attitude of the instructor. If the instructor can transmit confidence that the rider can do it, the rider will pick up on and feed on this confidence.

And, let them make small mistakes. Small enough that one can laugh at the result.
tinyliny is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 08-28-2011, 03:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 11,869
• Horses: 0
Like tinyliny said, there aren't really any tricks.

All but one of my students are very confident. My one who isn't is my only adult student. I give she & her grandson both lessons. With her I always ride along with her on one of my training horses. Seeing me "fail" or not get something the first try and then she be able to on my lesson mare has really seemed to help. Setting goals also helps. I like to make a big picture goal and then break it down into small milestones to hit along the way. Having it down on paper for them to see helps too.

With less than confident riders its very important to not be too critical. I try to adjust my intensity to match the rider. Praise has to far outweigh critique for those less confident. Celebrate every small success.

Hope that helps some!
Posted via Mobile Device
MHFoundation Quarters is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 08-28-2011, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Danville, IL
Posts: 595
• Horses: 4
I've been trying to "radiate" confidence for my older rider. If she bounces at the trot and asks about her position, I tell her how she's bouncing a lot less than the first times (which was very true), how I used to practically bounce right out of the saddle, and then I'd talk about riding with her legs more. A lot of the beginner students, when they push down on their feet, send their legs waayyyyy out there, so they can't get a foundation on their horse's side (especially at faster gaits), and it causes them to bounce.

The same older rider would bounce some days more than others. I shrugged it off and told her we all have our "off" days, even me, where our position is lacking. (Usually when we're distracted by home problems, a huge pesky bill, etc.) Then I tell her to focus on the task at hand -- nothing else -- and try again. At one point I explained:
"When I first began to ride I was so focused on my position that my focus ruined my position. I thought so hard on "heels down, eyes forward, legs squeeze" that I overdid it. When I finally had enough of over-thinking I focused more on my horse -- and I stopped bouncing."

The younger rider, I recently came to find, is insecure because of her mother, who watches from a distance. She told me her mother is overly-critical and it worries her; she wants to be great but is afraid to fail. I waved my hand at this and said, "You're on a horse riding by yourself! Why does she matter right now?" That seemed to help her, and she's slowly been coming out of her "shell."

My biggest fear is building this course, and then finding out their major slacking points too late! I don't want to set up a "medium" jump (around 1'), thinking they're capable, and then have their horse jump and them find their way to the ground. We use old fence poles for "Cavalettis," but most of the horses just do a hop-skip-jump over them, not really a jump. I still try to teach them jumping position, though.

I want them to be safe, confident, and still have fun.

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative." (H.G. Wells)
| Missile Sweet Studio |

Last edited by Creampuff; 08-28-2011 at 08:31 AM.
Creampuff is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 08-28-2011, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 11,869
• Horses: 0
With your older student have you done any work without stirrups to help her find her seat and center of balance? I like to put mine on a lunge and have them drop stirrups and ride with their arms out to the side, have them make small 4" circles in the air with their hands. They will concentrate on those circles and not worry about seat, they tend to relax then and find their seat & rhythm without even realizing they have.

With the younger rider, talk to her mom and let her know that she may be making her nervous and see if she would consider dropping her off or read a book in her vehicle for a couple lessons. I find that a fairly common thing with my youngsters. I allow spectators the 1st lesson and then require the first month that I just have the child alone so that the focus is solely on learning and there is no feeling of having to "perform" to expectations for spectators.
Posted via Mobile Device
MHFoundation Quarters is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Building Horse's Confidence (in the arena) Carleen Horse Training 2 05-05-2011 08:54 AM
Building my confidence back Icedancer Horse Talk 4 02-22-2010 01:19 PM
building confidence on the ground farmpony84 Horse Training 4 12-10-2009 02:38 PM
Building Confidence Tennessee Horse Riding 8 10-10-2009 07:43 PM
Any good tips for building confidence in jumping?? figaro Jumping 2 06-07-2009 03:43 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome