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View Full Version : Progression for a 5 yr old



hellerkm
Jul. 1, 2009, 06:48 PM
My Dd is 5 , she LOVES to ride and rides one pony a day. She is in the saddle for about an hour and at the barn for close to 4 hours a day. We get there early help to feed all of the horses, throw hay, water and then get ready to ride. She is required to groom her own pony ( at least all the parts she can reach) pick her feet ( with some help) paint her hooves, and help me tack her up.
When we get in the ring she rides by herself for about 15 -20 minutes then goes on the lunge line for another 15 - 20 min. she can walk and steer ( well) trot around the ring ( if pony is having a good day) on her own and loves her lunge line time in her two point, without reins, doing a sitting trot without stirrups, playing some games ect.
She is also learning to canter on the lunge line and on her own , so far she is not having much success OFF the lunge because pony is miserable LOL we have a new pony coming next week. She trotted some very very small cross rails the other day and stayed on.
What is the progression for little kids, do they need to canter well before "really" jumping or can they trot crossrails and learn to jump first?
I DO NOT want to scare her, at this point she will ride ANYTHING big or small fast or slow ( although she prefers moving forward) and is willing to try anything we suggest to her. She told me today she is bored, so its time for the next step.
I am open to opinions on what that next step is or should be!!! I do have my own thoughts but want to hear other opinions as well.

llsc
Jul. 1, 2009, 07:24 PM
Don't buy into the bored thing. There is nothing boring about riding a pony. Keep doing what you are doing and keep it safe. They have no strength at her age and come off pretty easy when things go wrong, since they are riding strictly off balance. If she gets scared, it's a really long way back to where they were before. I've seen it with lots of little ones, especially if they get really hurt.

I think it's ok to do poles in jumping position at the trot, but if she can't canter really well, I wouldn't have her jumping at the trot. Don't rush her, 5 is really young. My 5 year old is just trotting on the lunge and walking alone. She isn't anywhere near ready to canter yet and neither was her sister at the same age. She could probably hang on and do it, but I'm of the opinion that she needs to have very good control of her pony at the trot before she can canter on the lunge. I'm probably a little more conservative than I need to be, but because I ride I know what can happen to my kids and I err on the side of caution.

hellerkm
Jul. 1, 2009, 07:31 PM
I agree , she is not BORED with riding I think she is bored of going in circles, next week when her new pony arrives I think she will be fine. her new pony will be easier to make go forward and will steer better and will NOT run her to the gate and drop her head in an attempt to get her off LOL! so she will be better able to trot for longer periods of time on her own and do more poles ect.
I also worry about her cantering, but she has grown up with 4 older brothers ( much older) and has been doing fast since she was a baby LOL!! fast bike rides, fast horse rides ( on them) fast spins around the livingroom, so she is NOT scared to canter. and on the lunge she is pretty good, her pony is a pain when she tries on her own and she does still get off balance trying to GET her to canter. so we have some improvement to make in that area.
I think most of her desire comes from the fact that she is the youngest kid in the ring everyone else is jumping courses so she wants to do what they do! Its hard to be low person in the ring! even if you are only 5!

shawneeAcres
Jul. 1, 2009, 09:31 PM
Most of my students learn to do trot fences (crossrails) prior to cantering, as often they get a little canter after a fence and they get the feel of it without having to "make" the pony canter. Learning the aids to canter AND learning to ride the canter can be daunting for many kids, so I usually teach the canter coming off a jump.

trina1
Jul. 5, 2009, 10:35 PM
If she's tired of going round and round the ring, what about trail rides for fun?

Whisper
Jul. 5, 2009, 10:51 PM
You can also incorporate some things like a few cones with different patterns to go through at the walk or eventually trot, with some ground poles once she's ready for them off the longe. Simon Says, Mother May I, Green Light Red Light, and other similar games are good for keeping the little ones' attention. :D

cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony
Jul. 5, 2009, 11:11 PM
Yea, keep her enthusiastic about it. Maybe only take her to the barn when she asks to go. Like try an experiment, don't go for a few days and see if she asks you why. Or ask her "what do you want to do today?" If she says "go riding!" Then great, if she says something else, then do that instead. I think what made me want to ride so much is that my parents were kind of against it and I had to fight to get lessons or anything.
Other than that, maybe "egg and spoon" or hold a dollar bill under your seat, or we used to do this one thing where two riders would each hold an end of a long crepe paper thing and have to do an obstacle course together without breaking it, then keep making the crepe paper shorter and shorter... Also set up little jumps and make the kids go around and jump them on foot like they are horses, have a "horse" show like that.

S1969
Jul. 6, 2009, 07:54 AM
My dd is about at the same level as your dd (trotting ok alone, trotting well on lunge, walking alone) but I would never let her jump at this point. She's no where near ready...although I've never seen your dd ride.

My dd went to a small show with her trainer earlier this year and did two leadline classes but also a pony halter class. She thought that was really fun. Maybe some in-hand games or showmanship patterns in addition to riding?

pony grandma
Jul. 6, 2009, 09:51 AM
She may be gutsy, has never been scared and used to fast as you say, but as one poster noted, kids this age are riding off their balance, they have no real length of leg - which the weight in the heel and the length is the real stabilizer. At this point they are riding on top of the animal not down around it. They lose that balance, one quick manuver sideways or a sudden stop and whop. Also a pony can easily pull them forward off balance b/c they have short arms. It is a waiting game at this point until a child grows more.

I think that trail rides, a bit of up and down some slight slopes of ground, my granddaughter likes to ride on the road and hear the clippy clops. And then you can count the stride too. Make her feel where each leg is, she says 'now' when you call out the leg, when it touches the ground - good future feel technique. Some steering games, simon says as mentioned, other kids riding together will help the time pass. Use ground poles, make an L to steer thru, do walk & trot overs just steering for the center of the pole. Make a little kids flags in sand in a bucket on a barrel (if too high use some stools) game, make a steering serpentine like the contesting poles class too.

Hope this helps, they do grow up faster than it seems. Some day you will long for this time again.

Limerick
Jul. 6, 2009, 12:19 PM
I'd definitely go slow and do other things like obstacle courses, Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, and go on trail rides-just walking and a little trot if someone's leading. At five and probably less than 60 lbs, she is relying on the pony being a complete Saint and it doesn't sound like her current pony is that Saintly.

My old, old trainer told me if they lose confidence at such an early age, it's incredibly hard to get it back. She felt one should wait til a child was eight or nine to start serious riding lessons because they are more athletic, stronger, and bounce back easily.

I started both my daughters at five anyway. ;) But my now six year old is still just trotting on her Nanny pony and thinking about learning diagonals. She will likely learn to canter when she is almost seven.

I hear about kids like Evan Collucio who went to Indoors at six and have no clue how they stayed on!!!

hellerkm
Jul. 6, 2009, 12:22 PM
Yea, keep her enthusiastic about it. Maybe only take her to the barn when she asks to go. Like try an experiment, don't go for a few days and see if she asks you why. Or ask her "what do you want to do today?" If she says "go riding!" Then great, if she says something else, then do that instead. I think what made me want to ride so much is that my parents were kind of against it and I had to fight to get lessons or anything.
Other than that, maybe "egg and spoon" or hold a dollar bill under your seat, or we used to do this one thing where two riders would each hold an end of a long crepe paper thing and have to do an obstacle course together without breaking it, then keep making the crepe paper shorter and shorter... Also set up little jumps and make the kids go around and jump them on foot like they are horses, have a "horse" show like that.

She is up and dressed each morning in her "barn" clothes before I finish my coffee !!! she cries when it rains and we can't ride, and she is the first kid to grab the grain buckets and start the day. She LOVES it, we have a new pony coming in next week that will allow her to ride on her own, she should be able to keep her going and that will help ( her current pony is a bit of a pill) we are doing all of the games everyone suggested and she loves to "trail" ride around the farm. This weekend she discovered the fun of pony bareback riding with a halter and lead, she thought that was the coolest thing ever!!! this is her "thing" and if she never had to leave the barn all day she would be happy. She just gets frustrated because her current pony is a bit stubborn ( more than a bit) and runs her to the gate on a regular basis! Today she managed to keep her on the rail for much longer than usual so she is getting better , or stronger I am not totally sure LOL!!
Thanks for all of the cool suggestions, they are working well and have changed up our routine so she is not as bored going in circles!!

baymare
Jul. 6, 2009, 03:14 PM
What Limerick said. A real scare or a hard fall at this point can really be hard to overcome. Lots of good suggestions here for fun things to do without upping the skill level too much. And if the possibility exists for her to ride sometimes with a peer or two, all the games and silliness take on a new dimension of fun when done in a group of friends. As long as they have good, sensible, experienced instruction.

Enjoy. I always assumed I would have a pony-girl daughter, wound up with totally non-horsey twin boys instead!

cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony
Jul. 6, 2009, 03:29 PM
I'd definitely go slow and do other things like obstacle courses, Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says, and go on trail rides-just walking and a little trot if someone's leading. At five and probably less than 60 lbs, she is relying on the pony being a complete Saint and it doesn't sound like her current pony is that Saintly.

My old, old trainer told me if they lose confidence at such an early age, it's incredibly hard to get it back. She felt one should wait til a child was eight or nine to start serious riding lessons because they are more athletic, stronger, and bounce back easily.

I started both my daughters at five anyway. ;) But my now six year old is still just trotting on her Nanny pony and thinking about learning diagonals. She will likely learn to canter when she is almost seven.

I hear about kids like Evan Collucio who went to Indoors at six and have no clue how they stayed on!!!

I really think that the best age for a kid to fall off at is 5 years old. Then they are all bendy and flexable, heal fast and they don't hurt as much as older kids and adults. SO they fall off at a young age and realize its no big deal, and aren't really scared to fall off after that. Thats when I first fell off- and believe me-- I fell of ALOT! Rode a lot of crazy untrained horses.
I don't know, if maye some kids are just more easily freaked out, or if some PARENTS make such a huge deal when the kids fall off and run up and SCREAM "ARE YOU OK!" and start CRYING and stuff, instead of just picking the kid up and putting them back on the pony and acting like nothing happened.
Then you can put them in more situations where they can ride tougher horses and develop those quick reflexes and methods to fall and get that stuff ingrained in their muscle memory while they are young. You can't learn that from riding perfect packer schoolmasters all the time.

hellerkm
Jul. 6, 2009, 06:18 PM
I really think that the best age for a kid to fall off at is 5 years old. Then they are all bendy and flexable, heal fast and they don't hurt as much as older kids and adults. SO they fall off at a young age and realize its no big deal, and aren't really scared to fall off after that. Thats when I first fell off- and believe me-- I fell of ALOT! Rode a lot of crazy untrained horses.
I don't know, if maye some kids are just more easily freaked out, or if some PARENTS make such a huge deal when the kids fall off and run up and SCREAM "ARE YOU OK!" and start CRYING and stuff, instead of just picking the kid up and putting them back on the pony and acting like nothing happened.
Then you can put them in more situations where they can ride tougher horses and develop those quick reflexes and methods to fall and get that stuff ingrained in their muscle memory while they are young. You can't learn that from riding perfect packer schoolmasters all the time.

We have been out trying ponies for Sarah in the past few months , so she has been riding in strange rings ( like the warm up ring at DEvon with tons of people) and lots of strange ponies. She fell off of two of them ( one in the ring at Devon LOL) and she just jumps up and gets back on and keeps going. She has seen her sister and cousins fall on numerous occasions so it means nothing to her, its just something that happens sometimes. She is standing here next to me paging through the Practical Horseman magazine commenting on how each horse "moves" really she is horse CRAZY at this point and has had such good experiences by learning at home with horses and ponies she has known since she was an infant I think she has a real advantage. We are not talking about a kid who rides in a weekly lesson , we are talking about a kid who gets up at 6am each day, helps feed 20 horses, pulls the hose around to water, can decide if the water trough needs to be dumped and cleaned , can tell if a horse is "off" when it trots, she LOVES this life. She just gets frustrated when she is the ONLY kid on a lunge line going in small circles LOL she is 5 going on 15!!! and that might be my biggest hurdle!

Whisper
Jul. 6, 2009, 10:25 PM
Hellerkm, if you can establish that riding on the longe is fun/special, I think it will stand her in good stead as she progresses! I also do vaulting, which is *always* done on the longe, at every level, and nobody gets bored. Maybe spend some time on the longe yourself, or have your other kids do so, to make a point that it isn't *just* for beginners? Anyway, it sounds like she's making progress in a lot of different areas, and I hope she has fun with the new pony!

AKB
Jul. 7, 2009, 06:48 AM
I would do vaulting, pony games, trail rides with her on a lead line, and musical kurs/dressage at the walk and trot. My daughter did not canter her pony until she was 7 and until after she was out winning walk trot dressage tests. Make sure your daughter is wearing a good helmet, and consider putting her in a cross country vest. You don't want her to get scared when she falls. Be careful of nylon anti-grazing reins if you take her trail riding. Kids can get caught in them when they fall.

hellerkm
Jul. 7, 2009, 07:00 AM
I would do vaulting, pony games, trail rides with her on a lead line, and musical kurs/dressage at the walk and trot. My daughter did not canter her pony until she was 7 and until after she was out winning walk trot dressage tests. Make sure your daughter is wearing a good helmet, and consider putting her in a cross country vest. You don't want her to get scared when she falls. Be careful of nylon anti-grazing reins if you take her trail riding. Kids can get caught in them when they fall.

Our anti grazing reins are leather ( but could use some oil so they soften up LOl) and they run from crown on the bridle to the d rings on the saddle so I think we are safe. We do use a CO helmet so I think we are safe there too. We have not gone the vest route, although I see more and more kids riding in them and have considered it ( I am a nurse and can visualize the trauma from a fall , its a wonder my kids ride at all!!) does your daughter wear one, are they overly hot? bulky?? they just look so uncomfortable to me ( I DO realize they are SAFE and comfort comes second). maybe we will go try a few on and see what happens.
Dd announce last night that it was time to learn her diagonals, she was paging though a PH magazine and asked if she won a class at the horse show if she got a "trophy" I told her yes sometimes they give out trophies. She looks up at me and says "teach me my diagonals tomorrow so I can win a trophy" we have had a hard time convincing her that she NEEDED to know her diagonals ( we used every thought , pony needs to be balanced, you need them in a horse show ect) once she realized she needed them to WIN a TROPHY it became a whole different story!
I have to tell you , I am enjoying this experience with her sooo much, its such a blast to watch her learn and figure this all out. I have been doing it for sooo long that it does not phase me anymore ( and I don't want anymore trophies I have BOXES of them in the attic) but as she learns each new thing or discovers WHY we do certain things I can WATCH her brain grow! She is so compassionate about her pony , she was so concerned the daisy reins would maker her uncomfortable, or that her new girth would rub,ect. I am really enjoying the journey , thanks for letting me share!!!

Hunter Mom
Jul. 7, 2009, 08:36 AM
Dd announce last night that it was time to learn her diagonals, she was paging though a PH magazine and asked if she won a class at the horse show if she got a "trophy" I told her yes sometimes they give out trophies. She looks up at me and says "teach me my diagonals tomorrow so I can win a trophy" we have had a hard time convincing her that she NEEDED to know her diagonals ( we used every thought , pony needs to be balanced, you need them in a horse show ect) once she realized she needed them to WIN a TROPHY it became a whole different story!

Your daughter sounds a lot like mine - she'll learn it when she decides she needs to, but not until. Mine is 7, and has ridden since she was 4. We do a lot of different things - "trail" rides, simon says, bareback, etc. - so she doesn't get bored.

LaraNSpeedy
Jul. 7, 2009, 09:34 AM
My daughter is 5 and almost 6 - I have been pony shopping for her for a year now and my 14 hand pony is still my most safe but he's a little tall.... so I am still keeping an eye out.

She wants to go 'fast' and do things - generally, by the way I am also a riding instructor and I have a few other young riders like this. The thing is - generally, most kids ride for 20 minutes or so (this age group) and then that is it. It is normal for a little kid to only be able to do the ring stuff for 20-30 minutes. I do shorter private lessons for this age group because it is a little boring. IT IS. Why - because they are growing mentally and physically. They cannot THINK proactively and they are physically still in the early development of leg and upper body. Balance and fun is really what it is about at this point.

My goal with them is that they can balance over the horse at a walk and trot. The only time I canter this young of an age group is if their legs can wrap around at all and I only teach them what it is so that if their horse takes a few canter steps by accident, it does not freak them out and then can bring the horse back down to a trot. Most horses have too big of a canter so it unseats a little little kid. It might be ok for kids to fall off - I know I did a lot but honestly, I am going to try to avoid it if I can!

The next step is navigation. In the round pen it gets boring - but I tell them - walking and trotting is EASY in the roundpen. Then we go to the big arena and I set up an obstacle course - poles to step over - I have a small water jump for them to step over - cones to weave through - two poles to walk between - a few barrels to walk around - a tarp to step on - and I teach them how to open and close a gate on top of their horse. Then at the end of the 'lesson' I pony them on my property on a simple 15 minute long trail ride that goes around the edge of the property - I usually pony them on this part.

Once they can navigate all that at the walk, then I have them trot a few parts or I have them navigate it all and then trot around the rail once as part of the 'pattern'. This activity stretches into the 'proactive' thinking thing which is essential for riding. Like when they are doing one obstacle, they have to be LOOKING at the next one and thinking about how to do it. Then once their horse starts that obstacle, they are to be LOOKING at the next... teaches them to think and plan ahead like a good leader should and keep their eyes up.

For the horses that can with little kids - I also put a halt, back in the obstacle course.

LaraNSpeedy
Jul. 7, 2009, 09:35 AM
Oh and I forgot to mention - my daughter can ride 20 minutes and take a 15 minute pony on the trail but the GROOMING also is very exciting for her. I teach her to braid the tail too and she gets to feed him his grain when we are done. From groom- 20 minute ride - trail ride - food - its over an hour and she is very happy.

hellerkm
Jul. 7, 2009, 01:08 PM
Oh and I forgot to mention - my daughter can ride 20 minutes and take a 15 minute pony on the trail but the GROOMING also is very exciting for her. I teach her to braid the tail too and she gets to feed him his grain when we are done. From groom- 20 minute ride - trail ride - food - its over an hour and she is very happy.
OH yes GROOMING is a huge deal, we all feed together then the older girls and my DD grab their horses/ponies out of the pastures, they groom, but she will groom FOREVER!! she is always the last one in the ring LOL which is fine with me, its all about enjoying it at this point, so we try to keep it fun, learn something each day and let her pick and choose her activities. Today she had to post three steps, two point four steps, sitting trot 3 steps ect she was laughing so hard by the end I have NO idea how she stayed on, but she was NOT bored! that is the key just keeping her entertained while helping her learn what she needs to know to progress.

LaurieB
Jul. 7, 2009, 03:08 PM
If your pony is safe, I would consider just tossing your daughter up and letting her ride around bareback. I know I'm one of the oldsters on this bb who pretty much learned to ride like a wild Indian before learning the basics, but it doesn't seem to have hurt my riding career any. :lol: And some of the ponies my friends and I played around with--all without adult supervision though our parents knew where we were--certainly wouldn't be considered kid-safe by today's standards.

Riding bareback is fun. And it will help her learn to wrap her legs around the pony's sides, which will probably help her develop some muscle. And if she comes sliding off, she can find something to climb up on and slide herself back on. ;)

nlk
Jul. 7, 2009, 04:31 PM
I work with a lot of small kids and one thing I notice is their attention span. You are probably getting the I am bored because she is on so long!! An hour after feeding and grooming and tacking is A LOT! If she still says she's bored after a few weeks with the new pony I would cut the ride time to about 30-45 mins.

I agree with others who said that she has little to no muscle for cantering. unless she has a very smooth pony I wouldn't push it. My kids must competently post and two point at the trot, go over ground poles at the posting trot and 2-pt. as well as weave cones. It's a lot BUT it keeps them entertained by giving them different things to do as well as ensuring their safety.

I disagree personally about them doing anything higher then a pole pile before they canter because if they have never cantered before and pony actually jumps and canters off they are likely to panic at not knowing how to control them. The worse feeling in the world IMO is not feeling like you can stop your horse!!!

My own son rides when he feels like it and other then that he is in a program especially designed for young riders once a week. He loves it and I am not pushing in the slightest way.