I'm going to sound crazy but need advice - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Arizona
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I'm going to sound crazy but need advice

I jumped the gun and purchased a pony for my daughter when she was 4. The opportunity presented itself, I fell in love with the pony and here we are 3 years later.

My daughter has been taking lessons (English at a jumper barn) for 3 years. She loves her pony but she lacks the motivation and interest I see in other children. When I was her age I would have killed my nearest kin for the chance to have my own pony. She takes it for granted - which is my fault.

Bottom line is that I'm not sure my daughter LOVES to ride the way I do. And that is OK (sure I'll be sad but I'm not going to force her to ride.) She groans over taking lessons and I have told her that she doesn't have to, but having a pony requires learning to ride and if she isn't in to it that is OK but it does mean that we will sell the pony.

I've thought about moving my daughter to a different, more "pony" stable however I am hesitant because I own a horse too, that I ride. Both are at the same barn 35 minutes from our home. Boarding at two different barns would put an added strain on my already overwhelming schedule.

Daughter turns 7 in a week. What should my expectations be of my daughter? How much longer should I give her to show real interest before we cut bait and sell the pony? You can give it to me straight but know that I am trying to do the right thing.

thanks in advance :)
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post #2 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 06:42 PM
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I just want to weigh on my experience having my horse and my daughter's horse at two different barns. It was terrible. Obviously we couldn't ride together, but when she wanted to see / ride her horse I'd have to go too, and then I had nothing to do. When I wanted to see / ride my horse, well, I went a lot when she was in school, but in summer it was bad. I was on the road ALL OF THE TIME. Our current barn is more of a hunter / jumper barn, and my daughter's mare wasn't really a fit here (she was a trail horse), but after a few months I just had to move her so we'd be at the same place. It is just so much better. And we've both started getting into dressage, and right now we're having lessons together which is fun. Then on weekends we have lessons one after the other: my lesson first, which is her time to just hang out with her horse, and then her lesson, which is my time to hang out with my horses.

I cannot stress enough that I would NOT want to have horses in two separate barns again.

ETA: Another thought. Does she enjoy just hanging out with the pony? If he's a decent pony, maybe you could lease him or half lease him for a few months, so you're not paying all of his expenses but he's still there if your daughter changes her mind. I mean, if she's attached to him. She could take a few months off of riding, but still spend time with him if she wants, and see how she feels.

Maybe she just needs a break. Sharing a love of horses with your daughter is awesome, I know!, and you'd hate to have pushed her too hard to where she doesn't want to ride anymore.
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post #3 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 06:49 PM
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Not a parent. I'd guess the structure of jumping lessons is probably boring to her. Does she ever go out on trail rides? Is there another discipline she can try out at the barn? Could she try lessons at a different barn once a week and see if a different environment changes it? I'm guessing you take lessons too and don't want to leave your trainer?

With summer, there might be some pony camps she could go to, with or without her pony, that could spark some renewed fun.

Is the pony well behaved? Naughty ponies ruin the fun pretty fast. Anyone at the barn she lessons with her age? Someone she's friends with and can compete with?
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post #4 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 06:59 PM
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The barn owner where I board a horse has 3 children and I've watched them all grow up to have zero interest in her horses. When they were younger they rode in parades and such and the youngest would "help" us in the barn but that all changed pretty quick. Now the BO still keeps some horses for her friends/relatives to have pony rides once in awhile and that's about it. So yeah, you are right not to force the issue. Maybe the kids do take it for granted and see it more as a chore, unfortunately.
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post #5 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 07:29 PM
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Maybe she needs to do something else with her pony that might seem more fun to her.

My B/O's son does mounted shooting and loves it. He groans about doing horse chores sometimes but he's always ready to go when it comes time for coaching or competing. What boy wouldn't want to run around on a horse and shoot things like a cowboy or a marshal? He's going on thirteen now and has been doing the horse thing since he was four. Yes, he does take it for granted but I think that is pretty normal for a kid when they don't know anything different.

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post #6 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 07:33 PM
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We need @Acadianartist to chime in here. She struggled with her daughter losing interest and even had a long thread about it


I participated quite a lot on that thread because my daughter also got her pony at age 3 and seemed to be losing interest. We didn't board our horses--they live right on our place. We trail ride and camp out with our horses. Both my kids liked the camping out but did not like riding so much. I usually did things like take them swimming, fishing, kayaking, or canoeing as well as riding to keep up their interest in going with me. My kids had NO interest in competing with horses.

When my daughter was 11, I had an opportunity to buy an amazing weanling that I was certain could be trained by a child (with my help) for my daughter, hoping that training her very own baby horse would catch her interest.

I got extra horses for her friends to ride, and searched out girls her age to be friends with her to ride the horses. All of that sort of worked and sort of didn't. My daughter did an awesome job training the filly, who turned out to be a wonderful riding horse. She is quite proud of her lovely mare and proud of the job she did training her. But she never really did love horses and isn't really into it. She rides her mare to spend time with her friends who love riding. If they don't go, she won't go.

If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn't have. On the other hand, I have had wonderful adventures that I have enjoyed with my daughter. I have given 6 children the opportunity to learn to ride and given my daughter 6 friends she might never have known. I own a lovely and beautifully trained walking horse that I never would have purchased. And a close relationship with my daughter. Her original pony developed suspensory ligament disorder after 12 years, and I was lucky enough to find a lovely family who wanted a pasture ornament. We visit him regularly and bring him carrots and pets.

I wouldn't mind not having the extra work and the extra horses, but my daughter loves her mare so much--just not to ride her. My daughter is 17 now. In a few more years, this issue will be decided by college, boyfriends, and possibly marriage and children.

For @Acadianartist , it worked out. For me, not so much. But maybe it was OK. Who knows what might have been if I had chosen a different road?
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post #7 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 08:41 PM
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I think 'making' any child of 5, 6, 7 do lessons of any kind, on a regular basis involved pushing them against resistance. You know, some parents take that to the extreme, like having their kids do gymnastics with an eye to them competing in the Olympics (since that is what it takes!). So, if it is really important to YOU, then you will have to accept that resistance.

In the long run, do what is best for the pony, since he has NO voice of his own in this.

And, no one here thinks you are crazy.
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post #8 of 31 Old 07-02-2019, 09:27 PM
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Yep, I am familiar with this scenario. Though I will say that I waited until my daughter was 11 and had been taking riding lessons for 5 years before buying her a horse. However, I love horses in a different way than she does. And that's ok.

First thing I would say is that I would never, ever, force a child to go to a riding lesson. One of the pieces of advice I was given on this forum was to wait for her to ask. I started going to the barn by myself. Nearly 4 years later, I bought two more horses, built a barn on my property, and still go to the barn by myself. Honestly, I love going alone. It's my getaway. I'm a very solitary person, and it's hard being a mom/wife all the time. I miss my space, so I'm not sad to go by myself.

Ultimately, you have to let her decide. I think that for many kids in this situation (with a horsey mom), interest comes and goes. Part of the reason is that kids need to develop an identity that is separate from their parent. They have to figure out whether they are really into something, or whether they got into it because of outside encouragement. The only way to find out is to take breaks from it. Allow that and be ok with it. Like REALLY ok with it, because you say you are, but it doesn't really sound like it. (sorry, you said you wanted us to give it to you straight) For the first 3 years or so, my daughter would only take lessons sporadically. She would do lessons for about three months, then stop for whatever reason. She'd find a new barn she wanted to try, and did lessons for the summer, but wouldn't want to go in the winter. My point is that this is totally normal for a kid. Eventually, she got to a point where she wanted to ride year-round, compete, and this year, she was one of 6 riders in our province to receive a 500$ bursary to go towards lessons, so now she's even paying for part of it herself!

I would tell your daughter that maybe she could take a break from riding. Don't say it like it's a punishment or like you'll be mad. Give her another option like maybe she can have a playdate while you go to the barn. Give her a choice, and if she chooses the playdate or other activity more often than riding, stop asking her if she wants to ride. Let her ask to go. If she doesn't, don't bring it up. In a few months, consider leasing out her pony if she has still not shown any interest in it. She may still come back to it, but if she doesn't, consider sitting down with her and telling her that it's time to sell the pony.

Parenting is so hard, and sharing a passion with your child, while it seems like a great way to bond, can also be a huge source of tension. If she does come back to riding and horses, see if you can develop separate interests within that. For example, my daughter became a show jumper whereas I have never jumped - at least not intentionally! I love doing liberty and ground work, I have an interest in nutrition, training, and just everything about horse health, but she just wants to hop on and ride. I do most of the barn chores, but if I have to go away, she's in charge. And now, she has started to give me riding "lessons" because I haven't been able to keep up with mine since her lessons are so expensive. As a result, she has far exceeded my riding level and is now working on becoming a certified coach so this is great practice for her. And you know what? She gives great lessons! I call her "coach" and try to treat her with respect and forget that she's my daughter during our lessons. Not saying this would work for everyone, but I can tell you that if I had forced her to go to lessons, we would not be here today.

I'm pretty sure my daughter will continue to ride into adulthood, but even now, I always let her know that if she gets tired of it, or wants to stop competing, or just enjoy her horse in the backyard, that's all fine with me. I have told her many times that I'd have horses no matter what, and that her horse will always have a place in my barn. She is 14 now, will get into boys soon, then university, then who knows. But I will always treasure the time we spend together with the horses whether or not she remains as passionate about them as I am. Maybe she'll do lots of other things with her life like I did, and come back to them in her 40s like me. That's ok too.
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post #9 of 31 Old 07-04-2019, 04:06 PM
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If she doesn't want to go to lessons, let her stay home while you go riding without her. Or find friends her own age that have horses and ride. If you have to switch stables try to find one where you can bring both horses.

You can't force someone to enjoy something. I know my cousin's daughter is always excited to see the horses. She keeps asking to go see the horses but we make her wait until the adults are ready. Riding and being around the horses is a special treat for her. I try to make sure it is fun for her so she always wants to come back.

I think kids who grow up with horses tend to take the horses for granted.
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post #10 of 31 Old 07-04-2019, 06:10 PM
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Advice: sell the pony. Do it now. Ride your own horse, literally and metaphorically. She isn't you as a little girl, she is herself and she isn't interested in lessons or even ponies, really, it sounds like.

If she wants lessons some day, she can ask for them. If she wants to get involved with horses, she'll let you know.

You know what's important? Your relationship with her. Now, and on into adulthood. And that is going to be vastly improved if you respect her desires and stop getting them confused with yours. Imagine if your mother never got the tuba lessons she dreamed of and forced you to live out her dream from age five onward until you were 18. Think you'd be grateful?

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