Western Lessons & Confidence-building
 
 

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Western Lessons & Confidence-building

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  • Western horse confidence building games for children
  • Riding lessons to build confidence

 
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    08-27-2011, 11:46 PM
  #1
Weanling
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.
     
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    08-28-2011, 03:45 AM
  #2
Super Moderator
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.
     
    08-28-2011, 04:12 AM
  #3
Showing
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!
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    08-28-2011, 09:29 AM
  #4
Weanling
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.
     
    08-28-2011, 09:50 AM
  #5
Showing
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.
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