View Full Version : Mental Training for the New Young Rider

Apr. 2, 2009, 01:14 PM
Any advice on motivational dos and don'ts for young children learning to ride and show? My daughter in leadline loves getting ribbons - I want part of my contribution to her schooling to be about developing a well-balance competitor. I keep thinking that there should be some magical prophetic zen like thing I can say to her that will make her grow up to be a wonderful horseman - Something she reference in her COTH interview someday, "My mother always told me..."

Anything you may have heard on the rail or wish you had heard...or wish you hadnt heard from parent to rider?

p.s. dont burn me at the stake this is my first post here.:winkgrin:

Mo's Mom
Apr. 2, 2009, 02:12 PM
My daughter is now into her 3 year of serious competing locally, riding since 3 years old She is now 14 YO, and the best advice I can give is: you can't force it. She loves horses, but right not is not as serious as I am. So, what did I do, I am going to show myself this year. If she just wants to have fun, then she can have fun at home. This was not what she wanted to hear, but she is already trying to make a little more effort. She had to realize it has to come from her.

She would love to be one of the kids that has things handed to her, but not going to happen in this house, we have to earn it.;)

Apr. 2, 2009, 02:29 PM
"It's not about the ribbons" :)

Apr. 2, 2009, 03:57 PM
The owner of the first barn I rode at always said "Blue ribbons turn purple, but memories last a lifetime."

All those blue ribbons you win will eventually fade but what you learn and the friends you make are more important and are what stay with you forever.

Apr. 2, 2009, 04:01 PM
this is a great thread, b/c i am in the same position. My 5 1/2 yr old wants to go ride her pony "sometimes" and when she gets to the barn, she loves being there. However, her "lessons" only last about MAYBE 10 minutes or so before she wants to ride backwards then be done...so i go with it. i don't push her...when she's done, she's done. However, at some point, she's going to lesson at the barn w/ the trainer...i won't have the patience to teach her for too long!

Apr. 2, 2009, 04:05 PM
Make it her choice always. But when she's ready, introduce her to the idea that she also chooses for her horse and his needs must come above all others. This will make her a good horsewoman and a good person at once. That sense of ability to make things happen (at least with a horse), responsibility and an eye trained to the larger picture are all great things we get from growing up with horses. I wish you and your daughter the best!

Apr. 2, 2009, 04:24 PM
I agree with everyone that if she stops putting in the effort, you have to allow her to make that choice.

While this isn't a cute saying, I had a trainer who would always ask us at shows "what are one or 2 goals for today" and they never had to do with winning. Examples: I'm going to: pick up the correct lead in every class. Ride into my corners. Have great heels... And we could only pick 1 or 2.

After the class she would say "Did you accomplish you goal(s)?" It was especially good for those crazy rounds/judges because we still left accomplished after.

This might be something to keep in mind when she gets older, but I still do it!

Apr. 2, 2009, 04:46 PM
I'm really lucky: My mom always made riding really fun for me. I don't remember ever "choosing" to go to the barn (it always just kind of happened), but I always enjoyed it. I didn't start taking serious lessons until I was 6, but I was riding long before that.

When I was maybe four or five, she would just put me on a school horse (in a bareback pad), close the arena gate, and let me just wander around. She never gave me any instruction, and when I wanted to trot she would just tell me to keep kicking. Then, when I was old enough to steer and have some control, we'd play "follow the leader." She would ride a horse, and I'd have to follow and do everything she did (of course, I thought I was hot stuff because I was keeping up with my mom, the trainer). But when I was super young, I'd just come to the barn to play in the dirt, and climb the trees, and brush my pony, and maybe ride. I never felt like I was forced into it.

When I went to shows, she'd always make a big show of how proud she was of me, regardless of the ribbon. 1st or 5th or 8th, she'd go on and on about how great I'd done. And honestly, I don't really remember caring about the ribbons until I was maybe 8 or 9 (and I started showing walk/trot at 6). But she never straight out said, "the ribbons don't matter," (atleast, I don't remember it), I was usually more concerned about whether or not I'd go off course than I was about my ribbon color! And every time she'd tuck me in at night, she'd always say "goodnight my champion pony rider." And of course, it made me feel good.

But anyways, though my mom never said, "Laura, do you want to come to the barn and ride today," I always wanted to go, and have always loved this sport. And I'm 18 now, so I guess I've gotten past the typical "burn out" stage.

Apr. 2, 2009, 05:08 PM
Pony Club Pledge

"As a member of the United States Pony Club, I stand for the best in sportsmanship, as well as horsemanship. I shall compete for the enjoyment of the game well played and take winning and losing in stride, remembering that without good manners and good temper, sport loses its cause for being. I shall endeavor to maintain the best traditions of the ancient and noble skill of horsemanship, always treating my horse with the consideration due a partner. I shall strive at all times to uphold the high ideals of the Pony Club and my country."

What is the Pony Club Motto?

"A Happy Child on a Happy Horse."

What are the 3 Rs of Pony Club?
The "three Rs of Pony Club" were established twenty-five years ago and have been followed since: Reading, Riding, and Responsibility.

Reading is essential to obtain the knowledge required to properly care for and teach our horses and ponies. Much of the pain inflicted upon our four-footed friends is inflicted through ignorance; it is our duty to attempt to remedy this situation through our education program. I believe that we are succeeding.

Riding safely and skillfully means that our members will have a Foundation of confidence and ability so as to be able to pursue a healthful sport throughout their lives. Pony Club offers a range of activities so that nearly every member, regardless of his or her mount's skills, will be able to participate and make a start at this foundation.

Responsibility is a natural result of having the complete care of a living creature and learning to care for it properly. Consequences of acts are faithfully reflected by either a nicker of recognition or by the pinning back of ears. The competitions offered develop sportsmanship and maturity. All of these characteristics, once established, carry over into other areas of life.

Apr. 2, 2009, 08:32 PM
So funny you brought up the topic of learning in children today. I was at a talk with Josh Waitzkin today, a world class chess champion from the age of 6, and now ranked #1 in martial arts in the world, in his early 30's. The movie "Searching For Bobby Fischer" is about him, but anyways....

He attributes his success, however, not to his being a "prodigy" as he's been labeled many times before, but to having been taught the most effective methods of learning and mind control. He started a foundation to basically alter education from its state now, based upon incremental learning (aka testing) to continuous learning (learning over a lifetime rather than working towards various minute goals), among multiple other goals. This is also geared toward all ages, so its not like they're all theories that wouldn't apply to your kid. If you're actually interested in my babble, I strongly recommend you read "The Art of Learning" by Josh Waitzkin- really interesting book, and he has some really good ideas about how to create the optimum learning environment.

Apr. 2, 2009, 09:44 PM
I remember reading an article with Joe Fargis and he replied to several questions by simply stating, "The horse comes first." I think that is a wise perspective to try to teach your daughter.

Have fun on the journey and take LOTS of photos!!

Dressage Dreamer
Apr. 3, 2009, 12:08 AM
I started competiting when I was 6 and am now 23..somewhere along the line I came up with my motto, "its not the color of the ribbon but the color of the ride that counts". Helps keeps things in perspective. Also working in the barn for lessons is deffinantly the way to go. I don't remember ever not helping in some way to help earn the right to show and things.Also somewhere a trainer told me I should always thank my horse for doing the best they could and keeping me safe at the end of a ride. That always really stuck with me :)