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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My two year old daughter adores my warmblood mare. She asks to go for a ride daily and I take her as often as possible. She really enjoys it and even took the reins from my hands a few times.

The problem is that she refuses to ride alone. As long as I am on the horse with her, she giggles and say the sweetest things to the horse. But don't I dare to get of. She asks to get of and starts crying.

I bought her a pony a week ago. She seems to love him to, but doesn't want to ride alone. I am way to heavy for the poor pony, so can't ride him with her.

How do I build her confidence to the level where she would be comfortable riding alone?
 

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She's two, so it's going to take some time. Will she sit on the pony alone? If so, just let her sit up there and pet it. If she won't, then don't push the issue. Let her pet the pony on the ground, brush it, and feed it treats. Have her ride with you on your mare for now. Let it develop naturally and it will come.

One other way, although I didn't do this until they were 4-5, is to start out with a 2-3 kid pony ride. Wedge the scared one in the middle. Walk them around a bunch until they're all having a blast. Ask the middle kid if they want to try with just two riders, if so take the front kid off. Walk around a bunch, repeat the exercise until they are comfortable going to one rider.

But again, she's two. There is no reason to push it right now. She isn't "unconfident" per se, she's just very aware that horses are large animals with a potential for danger. Not such a bad attitude to have in the right dose, especially at two.
 

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She is two give her some time. If the pony is safe for her to hold the lead rope and lead it around with you start there, give her a little brush that is just for her and her pony and let her brush the pony, dump feed, put hay out. Just let her be around the pony and participate in the daily chores. Get her a little wheel barrow and shovel so she help clean up after the pony. She will get used the pony and eventually the idea of sitting on the pony will not be so scary. Many adults are afraid to ride horses so can't hardly blame a little kid for being scared. The important thing is follow her lead and don't force her to ride alone, when she does make sure it is a good experience for her.

My son is 3 he has been riding with me since he was 4 months old, just recently he felt really comfortable to sit and be led on the horse by himself. He has his own little brushes, wheel barrow, shovel and has been "helping" to take care of horses since he started walking. She will get braver as time passes before you know it she will be hotdogging around by herself and you will long for the time when she was nervous.
 

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I to am thinking you're asking way too much of a 2yo. Especially on a WB!:shock::lol::p Maybe I've been a bit overprotective(but I only have 2 very precious kids & know how easy & bad horse accidents can be... not to mention I want them to actually enjoy the experience), but I would also NOT put a toddler, or even small child who is not already reasonably competent, on a horse without holding on to them.

My kids started 'riding' well before they could walk, but I still kept a hold of them until they were probably around 3-4yo & then still kept them on lead until they(& pony) could show me they were good enough to take control. Even then, at 4yo, you don't expect much in the way of concentration, perseverance, rational behaviour if things go a bit wrong... so they still only rode off lead in a controlled, relatively safe environment.

So... just as you would build confidence in a horse, start out well within their 'comfort zone' & only progress gradually, in short, easy 'steps'. Eg. I would (first teach horse/pony to be led from beside) sit your little girl on the horse for a few seconds at a time. Don't force her into doing much more than she's already confident with. Baby steps with your baby.

If/when she is comfortable with that, put her up there, with pony just standing still, for longer, *but hold onto her* & allow her to hang onto you too if she feels the need. Ensure you tell her that you are in control & even if the horse did do something or she lost her balance, nothing bad will happen because you're holding her. Once she's comfortable with that, progress *gradually* to walking & then trotting, varied terrain, etc. You may want to change the way you hold her & wean her off holding you, before doing more than a walk, so there's more freedom. I just ensured my kids had relatively sturdy clothes on & took a firm fistful of the back of their top/overalls, whatever, so they could feel they were doing it themselves, but it was enough of a 'safety chain' for us - on a few occasions I was left with a child dangling by their clothes from my fist, but they learned to trust that I was in control so they didn't have to worry.

Oh & speaking of dangling children, if you're going to have kids on & around horses, please desensitise your horses to weird & wonderful things kids may do, such as falling off, dangling off the side, not to mention off the horse, running, throwing things, toys & bikes, etc, etc. And use clogs or other safety stirrups so that there is no way your child can get her foot stuck, when she does come off.
 

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I can't help but be amazed that you are even trying to put a two year old, alone, on a warmblood, let alone a pony.
Agreed with this. I think you may have jumped the gun by buying her a pony too small for you to ride yourself- I definitely wouldn't put a kid that young on a horse that I wasn't able to work regularly myself :wink: You do find some saints of ponies, but I wouldn't trust one to not get full of itself and try to take advantage of a kid when they're not getting regular brush ups from an experienced rider.

If you try to push the issue by forcing her to ride alone, then you will probably put her off of riding. Start by having someone lead the pony with you walking beside her holding on. She'll probably feel more comfortable with mommy holding on to her than having to hold on herself. She has her entire life in front of her to ride solo- help her out for a couple more years! When I volunteered with a therapeutic riding program there would be two people walking besides the horse while one was leading it. For some riders we would use a "thigh hold"- your arm would be covering the child's thigh with your hand holding to the front of the saddle flap. For others we would use a "cuff hold"- basically have the side walkers making a cuff of the kid's pants legs and holding on to the cuff. Both are surprisingly secure- I'd know because they used me as a "demo rider" when training new volunteers and treated me as though I was one of the students. Perhaps get a couple of people to help you out and try one of those methods!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I realize now that I am a bit over eager for her to share MY dream with me. I would just like to say however, that I would NEVER do anything to put my little girl in danger. I know Winter is an animal and therefor unpredictable. When I take my daughter for a ride it's always on a lead rope with someone walking besides the horse
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I figured as such! You can bet that if I ever have a kid I would want it on a horse from day one. It'll take some restraint to realize their limits, but it'll help her horse world in the long run. Keep on letting her do quick rides for a couple minutes a day to help fuel the love, but keep it short and sweet.

How tall is this pony? If it is too small for you to ride, then I would consider selling it or leasing it out to a competent youngster until your daughter is more of the age to ride on her own. If that isn't an option, then consider buying another pony once your child is old enough. If you can ride her and she is a truly fantastic kids pony, then id keep her in work for a few years as your daughter ages. I also would make sure that your warm blood is as trustworthy as horses go to have your kid up there for any period of time ;)
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Glad to hear others that agree with a bigger pony that can be ridden by an experienced handler, not just little tackers. Minis are for tricks & driving, etc. Not the best for kids IMO. Also the kid's not going to 'grow out of' a bigger pony quickly, not to mention you'll have a spare horse for friends... I reckon about 12.2hh is generally big enough for a medium person(of course don't expect anything like endurance rides or performance sports out of him), and small enough to be much less daunting & easier to handle than a big horse, for a child.
 

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My eldest niece wanted to sit on the horses from when she was about a year old. My other niece was never so sure. Different characters, same parents same upbringing but, so different.

I certainly would never have a two year old child on a horse without another person actually holding them there, arm around their back or holding onto a leg. Accidents happen and it is all to easy for a small child to fall.

You cannot force them to like riding. Encourage, yes but force never. Let her be with the pony, lead it around, brush it and just be comfortable around it. Then one day she will want to have a sit on and then a little walk. Often bareback is better as they don't find it as slippery as with a saddle. Again hold onto her leg.

My nephew loved the horses and could often be found just standing outside the stable fussing their heads, he inherited one of the girls ponies and when the vert asked if he loved his pony he said "Yes, but I love the tractor more!"
 

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At two, it may be more about getting so much of mom's attention than the animal. At three, my son loved to sit on a warm horse. He wasn't ready to be led around. By four he was riding by himself. (my mare was a babysitter).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This brings me to my next qeustion... How much weight would the pony be able to handle? I asked the qeustion in horse health, and someone replied that a horse can carry about 20% of it's own body weight. The pony is 14hh and rather stocky.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Okay so this brings me to my next question... How much weight would a rather stocky pony of about 14hh be able to carry? I asked the same question on horse health here and got a reply saying that a horse can handle about 20% of it's own body weight.
 

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Okay so this brings me to my next question... How much weight would a rather stocky pony of about 14hh be able to carry? I asked the same question on horse health here and got a reply saying that a horse can handle about 20% of it's own body weight.
It depends on how well you carry yourself riding, and how the pony is built. Based on the 20% rule, an 800 pound pony could have someone weighing 160 riding. Not everyone follows that rule, though. There are plenty of big cowboys that ride 14hh ponies with no ill-effects, but smaller folks can cause much more damage to a big horse if they don't have a good seat.
 

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Oh, I don't know about the '20%' rule, I think it depends so much. And of course, if the pony is rather fat or finely built, you might be 'pushing the envelope' a bit!

But unless you're very big, a 14hh pony shouldn't generally have a problem with an average size, average skilled adult rider.
 
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