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View Full Version : Would pony stopping/steering to the gate be a deal breaker for YOU?



QM2
Sep. 5, 2009, 03:11 PM
Hi all,

Well I've finally found a possible small lesson pony who has (so far) only one problem, he pulls to the gate and stops.

Let me tell you about what I am looking for and what he is/does.

I have a small lesson program and have several little kids ages 6,7 8 that are all ready to be turned loose. They can all ride the med pony that I have for lessons but I don't trust him to turn them loose. I trot along with them but they do all of the work. I 'm just there for extra brakes. They are all 45-50 lbs soaking wet. Tiny kids so they obviously need a small pony which I know can be trouble.

For the moment, and I know this can change, he wants to stop and pull the kids to the gate. He doesn't spook, which is important in my ring because it is right on the road. He doesn't buck, rear, bite, kick.

Little kids can lead, groom, bathe, etc.

I'm on the fence about this little guy sota speak. I do get a good vibe from him it's just this one thing.

His past is not one where he has had any disipline and I feel like this could be dealt with. I'm thinking daisy reins and a full cheek bit.

Would this be a deal breaker for you. His personality is so sweet and I will and big kids will be riding him to get him and keep him tuned up.

What do you guys think. Send him back or give him a shot?

EiRide
Sep. 5, 2009, 03:29 PM
Sounds like overall he's a nice pony for your needs--is there anyone who can give him a tune up? Have anyone with a good firm seat and no fear you can pop up there, let them ride a little schlocky, and then a big correction for gate pulling? Instructor can back it up with a longe whip if kid can stick to a little zipping away from the whip. (My coach had me doing this with a sticky one as a kid--I thought it was a riot to ride around like a beginner, then give him a big boot when he tried to run me to the gate). He fixed up quite nicely and went on to be a good schooling pony.

Of course, never dismount at the gate or the center of the ring, just various places around the ring, that sort of thing.

If the price reflected the issue, or you could get him on a month's try out, might be a good deal in the rough.

sandstar
Sep. 5, 2009, 04:13 PM
lol...tough spot..we have 2 small/med in our lesson program..both came in with a similar habit...one got over it with schooling from a bigger kid..one did not (goes great for bigger kid/or on long line) but will drag small kid every time.

Can you take him for a month or so, and see if he will school out of it?

hellerkm
Sep. 5, 2009, 04:22 PM
Here is my personal experience. My parents own an ADORABLE bay small who teaches all the kids to ride on the lunge line. she is quiet, dependable, and as soon as you turn them loose its off to the gate! She stops and WILL not move! My girls and nieces have ridden her since they were little, finally at 11 my niece is strong enough ( and not too heavy) to make her go around. Of course she is now too big to show her. Even after a short training session with the older kids as soon as the little ones get on her its a B line for a gate. We purchased my youngest her own small pony this summer for this EXACT reason! Our new small pony does not have gate issues.
IF you can get the pony on trial and have the bigger kids school her it might be worth a try, otherwise I would pass, sounds like you already have several that need a constant human sitter while the little ones ride , you don't need another one!

lcw579
Sep. 5, 2009, 04:24 PM
With schooling from a bigger kid I think pony should come around. I think most ponies, especially if they've been around the block, have the potential to do this - until some one gets after them consistently for a bit.

I'd say go for it.

Eiride - I used to get to school the naughty ponies that way too as a kid. So much fun! I love ponies!

QM2
Sep. 5, 2009, 07:16 PM
Yeah, I kind of have a gut feeling that he will school out of it. Spooking would break the deal but I think this little guy just has never had anyone really teach him not to pull.

Like I said I will ride him as well as the big kids. I also have an 11 yr old who is as big as a 7 yr old but is strong as an ox who will be schooling him for me.

He is fine up to the gate and once you get him past it and at the other end of the ring he is totally fine.

Like I said my ring is right on the road and not spooking at the scairy traffic is a major plus for him.

mvp
Sep. 5, 2009, 09:10 PM
That feature would really piss me off. But as you say, the rest of the pony is good. I'd want to make sure he could be schooled out of it, not so deviously smart that he can't be changed because he retests every rider.

In you shoes, I'd have a bigger kid school him. But before I was done, I'd have the kid give the pony the "stupid ride"-- meaning a loose or uncertain ride that mimics the one he might get from the smaller kids. You are getting the bigger kid to invite the pony to make the mistake he will with the wee ones. Post-schooling, if the pony is smart enough to know "weight means business" then pass on the pony. He'll need a really little kid pony jock and those are hard to come by.

spmoonie
Sep. 5, 2009, 09:11 PM
I say go for it! :D

Flash44
Sep. 6, 2009, 07:45 AM
My son's pony did this, and we cured it by allowing the pony to go to the gate, but as soon as she reached it, he would smartly tap her on the shoulder until she moved away from the gate.

Silk
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:14 AM
How old is the pony and what was his previous program like? Since reliable, safe smalls are VERY hard to find, I would think seriously about taking this one if he fits your program. first off, I would get on him (of if you cant ride him have someone else do it) and see if he does it with a better rider. If he does I would then see how he reacts to correction. If after a 20 minute ride I couldnt school him out of it, I would hesitate. If, after 20 mins I could get him to behave with me, I would take him.

Smalls are tough and smart. They know exactly waht they can do. If anything, if he is safe, saafe, safe, the worst that will happen is that he teaches kids how to be aggressive (firm) and purposeful and serve to improve thier riding. at best, you have yourself a gem that is worth his little weight in gold:)

Silk
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:32 AM
OK..let me clarify:

1. By aggressive, I do not mean little kids beating a pony past a gate. I mean teraching kids to ride with purpose and determination and to improve their strength and timing:)

2. When I say 20 mins, I mean that as the LONGEST amount of time. If he was still fighting me after 20 mins, I would most likely pass on him as a lesson pony...he doesnt want to play the game. I wasnt suggesting it takes me 20 mins to get anything past a gate. However, I have been on some that have some habits so ingrained in them, it might take more time than you want to invest to get him to behave. Hope this makes sense:)

JinxyFish313
Sep. 6, 2009, 09:44 AM
How strongly does he pull? I really hate teaching on ponies that do this. I have one that pulls so hard its impossible for the kids to sit back, keep their heels down, etc. and the ones that fight back end up with bloody, blistered little hands. Its impossible for a small one to work on anything with this pony but sitting up and trying to stop her and usually they just don't have the physical strength to make a difference, so its almost a complete waste of a lesson.

Thomas_1
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:00 AM
It wouldn't put me off at all. I'd have him under long reins to do the initial training and I've got a very good apprentice groom that's tiny for exactly those sort of circumstances.

It doesn't normally take long to sort that sort of behaviour out.

You may want him on lunge line the first few times he's got novices or little children on him just to ensure he doesn't go back to his old ways.

I always think that kimblewicks are good bits for little children and wilful ponies. It's for what they were originally intended.

Ajierene
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:11 AM
It depends on the intent of the pony.

there was a cute pony at a place I worked at that was strictly a leadline pony. I was small enough that I got on him one day and found out why - he darts from the back of the ring (he was facing away at the time) to the gate so fast I was on the ground before I knew what happened. Not good for a little rank beginner.

On the other hand, one lesson pony where I am now will go to the center of the ring if she sees another horse there and the rider does not really steer. If you turn her head, give her a kick, she will reluctantly go back on the rail and to work, but if you sit there, or pull the rein just slightly (like some kids do), she will scoff at you and stay put. It is good to teach kids about assertiveness with the horse.

So...depends on degree of pulling to the gate.

Whisper
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:16 AM
About a month and a half ago, I did a couple of tune-up rides for a large pony-sized 30 y/o Morgan, who would dash for the gate and scare the kiddos. She only tried it on a couple of times with me, for less than 5 minutes, and we did a lot of work on going past the gate, through the gate, stopping with the gate open and either backing, walking, or trotting off. Then, about a month ago, her owner had me hop on again for a few minutes just before one of the kids rode her, and do the "stupid ride" that mvp describes - deliberately flopping around a bit, leaning on her neck, etc. In less than 5 minutes, she was trotting quietly on a loose rein and ignoring the gate, and she was an angel for the kids. They've been riding her since, and I did one more tune-up with her (she's fun to ride anyway), and she hasn't given any further trouble. http://www.youtube.com/v/OAYWWXMM1H8 You can see her turn her head toward the gate for about one or two strides there, but she didn't do anything naughty, and for the rest of the video she didn't do it again. I'm certainly not an advanced rider, and she wasn't truly bolting or anything like that, just a little more than tiny beginner kids could cope with. She goes nicely in a plain snaffle, but like Thomas said, some ponies/kids need a little more bit.

findeight
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:24 AM
Lots of stuff they can do far worse then this-that is impossible to school out.

Shopping for lesson Ponies, especially a Small, on any kind of a budget means a little compromise somewhere along the line. This is not a bad one.

I guess, being around a big lesson program stuffed with Ponies (not to mention the fancy show types), I have seen alot of what can be fixed, worked with or tolerated versus things that cannot.

I got no problem with this one. BUT it's because you did say you have some bigger kids plus yourself and are willing to make some er...adjustments. I'd never say yes for somebody's backyard buddy or anything outside a training situation.

But here it's a yes.

HINT...have somebody stand at the gate with one of the better little Pony jocks aboard giving that sloppy beginner ride. Give person standing at gate a lunge whip;).

Amazing, they can see that at 50 yards.:lol:

JLC7898
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:27 AM
I have a lovely,lovely, small horse that does this. I really discipline him when he does this and then carry on in whatever we are doing. He is a million times better and we can actually trot by the gate without him longingly looking towards the barn. Maybe you or someone else can get on and school it out of him. I am not rough with my horses, i love them all, but when he does this i really give it to him in a dose that is appropriate for the situation.

lcw579
Sep. 6, 2009, 11:57 AM
On the other hand, one lesson pony where I am now will go to the center of the ring if she sees another horse there and the rider does not really steer. If you turn her head, give her a kick, she will reluctantly go back on the rail and to work, but if you sit there, or pull the rein just slightly (like some kids do), she will scoff at you and stay put. It is good to teach kids about assertiveness with the horse.

So...depends on degree of pulling to the gate.


:lol::lol: That made me laugh! When I was teaching lessons there was a pony that would come into the center of the ring to me every chance she got if she thought the kiddo wasn't going to correct her. She was like "Oh are you talking to girlie? Then I better trot right up to you so she can hear better. Are we finished yet?" Some kids could deal with it and learned that it didn't take much to keep her mind on work but there were one or two that just got too frustrated and had to ride something else.

I also agree with whoever said it should only take 20 minutes at the most to keep the pony from running out the open gate. Last time I schooled a small it tried to run me out of the gate and scrape me off in the process! Very naughty pony. Had someone there with the whip and I wouldn't let it get out. Then we had a number of "discussions" as we went past the gate over and over again and then finally I could go on a loose rein and it behaved.

M. O'Connor
Sep. 6, 2009, 03:03 PM
Hi all,

Well I've finally found a possible small lesson pony who has (so far) only one problem, he pulls to the gate and stops.

Let me tell you about what I am looking for and what he is/does.

I have a small lesson program and have several little kids ages 6,7 8 that are all ready to be turned loose. They can all ride the med pony that I have for lessons but I don't trust him to turn them loose. I trot along with them but they do all of the work. I 'm just there for extra brakes. They are all 45-50 lbs soaking wet. Tiny kids so they obviously need a small pony which I know can be trouble.

For the moment, and I know this can change, he wants to stop and pull the kids to the gate. He doesn't spook, which is important in my ring because it is right on the road. He doesn't buck, rear, bite, kick.

Little kids can lead, groom, bathe, etc.

I'm on the fence about this little guy sota speak. I do get a good vibe from him it's just this one thing.

His past is not one where he has had any disipline and I feel like this could be dealt with. I'm thinking daisy reins and a full cheek bit.

Would this be a deal breaker for you. His personality is so sweet and I will and big kids will be riding him to get him and keep him tuned up.

What do you guys think. Send him back or give him a shot?


Offer to lease him for a month, and see how he works out. Then, buy him if you find he fits your program.

Time_for_Tea
Sep. 6, 2009, 07:28 PM
Hm pulling to the gate can be a hard thing to break. I'd say if this pony is for kids that young and that small try it out for a month or two before passing. The only problem I see with having an older kid or adult "break" the pony of this habit is who's to say that the pony will stop doing this with the little ones who aren't as strong or have the leverage/muscle strength that may be needed. The pony may realize you mean business but could just as easily switch its attitude when it sees or feels a young child on its back.

Good Luck! :)

Silk
Sep. 6, 2009, 07:43 PM
HINT...have somebody stand at the gate with one of the better little Pony jocks aboard giving that sloppy beginner ride. Give person standing at gate a lunge whip;).

Amazing, they can see that at 50 yards.:lol:

I am simply crying because I am laughing so hard at this! I swear..the smaller the pony the smarter they are. Its an inverse relationship: smaller pony = bigger brain and smaller pony = increased willfulness. So, here is the Combined Gas Law of the pony world:

(brain size) (willfulness)
______________________
(pony's size)

DancingQueen
Sep. 6, 2009, 10:38 PM
IMO. Best way to work with little ponies and beginner students in a lesson program is training/encouraging the ponies to tow behind a bigger horse.

I think you can get a lot out of this pony if it learns to attach itself to a bigger horse and mostly does semiprivates (or groups). It can be a nightmare trying to get a little kid "rotating" nicely on a small and slightly stubborn pony, but pair it up with a lerger beginner on a horse that knows his way around the ring without causing troubble and you could have some real magic.

A small pony will almost always have some little issues, specially when they sense that the pilot is not going to put up a fight. LOL
A nice "tow-horse" will let a small kid trot around the outside "on their own" as safely as if they were on a lead or lungeline. Pony is happy becasue he gets to just follow, kids are happy because they are on their own, you are happy because you are not running next to a pony for a whole lesson!

if you can train him to do that alongside of having the better kids to more real stuff with him I think he could be a gem.

hiddenlake
Sep. 7, 2009, 11:01 AM
With the right bit and a couple pony spankings I think you should be able to get it fixed.

On any given day daughter's first pony always had "The Plan." There were several he relied on. One Plan included swapping leads just before the ingate (which had no "gate") and trying to canter out of the ring. Usually we were standing there so he rethought The Plan. One time he actually made it. I can still see pony hightailing it out as if he was thinking "yeehaw!!! I'm FREE!!!" Then he saw the chickens milling about the yard and they became unwilling accomplices as he chased them into the trees. Chickens were frantically racing every which way and making all kinds of chicken noises I'd never heard before.

For maybe two seconds trainer and I thought this was a little bit entertaining. Then we realized we should probably grow up and go get them. Trainer got on the pony and chased the chickens until that stopped being fun for the pony. I felt bad for the chickens--it had stopped being fun for them a lot earlier. They were exhausted.

As to the gate issue, the next time he tried the swap the trainer got on him and rode him until the pony decided it was no longer on The Plan list. We also switched to a full cheek. My daughter realized the importance of maintaining leg near the gate, and to this day I think that pony experience probably lurks in the back of her brain every time she passes an exit.

I hope you have better luck, and no chickens. ;)

Lori
Sep. 7, 2009, 11:30 AM
I wish you were close enough to send him to me. I love to work with small ponies just like this one!! ;)

llsc
Sep. 7, 2009, 02:08 PM
Lots of stuff they can do far worse then this-that is impossible to school out.

Shopping for lesson Ponies, especially a Small, on any kind of a budget means a little compromise somewhere along the line. This is not a bad one.

I guess, being around a big lesson program stuffed with Ponies (not to mention the fancy show types), I have seen alot of what can be fixed, worked with or tolerated versus things that cannot.

I got no problem with this one. BUT it's because you did say you have some bigger kids plus yourself and are willing to make some er...adjustments. I'd never say yes for somebody's backyard buddy or anything outside a training situation.

But here it's a yes.

HINT...have somebody stand at the gate with one of the better little Pony jocks aboard giving that sloppy beginner ride. Give person standing at gate a lunge whip;).

Amazing, they can see that at 50 yards.:lol:

I'm right with you Findeight. Nothing like teaching the leason standing at the gate with a lunge whip. Works every time. They don't even look toward the gate if you are there.

I put all of my ponies in Grazing reins evertime a kid is on, except in the show ring. It keeps the ones who already pull down from doing it and prevents the good ones from learning that they can pull a kid down. Smalls are tough to find without any vices, in fact I've never met one, so I'd have no problem with this kind of pony if everything else was good.

llsc
Sep. 7, 2009, 02:15 PM
IMO. Best way to work with little ponies and beginner students in a lesson program is training/encouraging the ponies to tow behind a bigger horse.

I think you can get a lot out of this pony if it learns to attach itself to a bigger horse and mostly does semiprivates (or groups). It can be a nightmare trying to get a little kid "rotating" nicely on a small and slightly stubborn pony, but pair it up with a lerger beginner on a horse that knows his way around the ring without causing troubble and you could have some real magic.

A small pony will almost always have some little issues, specially when they sense that the pilot is not going to put up a fight. LOL

A nice "tow-horse" will let a small kid trot around the outside "on their own" as safely as if they were on a lead or lungeline. Pony is happy becasue he gets to just follow, kids are happy because they are on their own, you are happy because you are not running next to a pony for a whole lesson!
if you can train him to do that alongside of having the better kids to more real stuff with him I think he could be a gem.

This is great advice too. My youngest is 5 and her old nanny pony will follow me on my horse anywhere. If I'm not riding with her, he will make smaller and smaller trot circles toward the center of the ring. :) When she rides with me, he will stay on the rail, trotting for hours. He's an absolute gem, but like all ponies, he knows how to get out of work.

QM2
Sep. 7, 2009, 03:19 PM
Well, he was perfect today for one of the big kids. Didn't pull to the gate once. It was dusty in the ring today and he coughed once or twice.

Well, that was enough to get me thinking...

Took his temp and it was 102! Ughhhh! figures! Luckily I had him in the quarantine stall but we will see what happens.

At least now I know how to fix him, I'll keep giving him new viruses!

Kidding, JUST kidding.

JinxyFish313
Sep. 7, 2009, 03:45 PM
Aww I hope he's okay and hasn't given anything nasty to your others.

DancingQueen
Sep. 9, 2009, 02:04 AM
Ha, little jokester might not be so smart with the flu! *joking*

I think you know but just in case you forgot, did you take his temp rigth after he worked? Or did you give him an hour or so to chill out? I think that it might be possible that a horse will hava an elevated temperature even a few hours after working if the weather is hot enough.
Unless he seems extremely dull you might just want to take his temp again tomorrow am to find out for sure!

QM2
Sep. 9, 2009, 01:35 PM
Yeah, he only worked about 10 mins that day and I took his temp about an hour later 102 as well as the next day and he was coughing in his stall. He definetly sick.

Thnks though.

LetsChat
Sep. 9, 2009, 01:45 PM
About a month and a half ago, I did a couple of tune-up rides for a large pony-sized 30 y/o Morgan, who would dash for the gate and scare the kiddos. She only tried it on a couple of times with me, for less than 5 minutes, and we did a lot of work on going past the gate, through the gate, stopping with the gate open and either backing, walking, or trotting off. Then, about a month ago, her owner had me hop on again for a few minutes just before one of the kids rode her, and do the "stupid ride" that mvp describes - deliberately flopping around a bit, leaning on her neck, etc. In less than 5 minutes, she was trotting quietly on a loose rein and ignoring the gate, and she was an angel for the kids. They've been riding her since, and I did one more tune-up with her (she's fun to ride anyway), and she hasn't given any further trouble. http://www.youtube.com/v/OAYWWXMM1H8 You can see her turn her head toward the gate for about one or two strides there, but she didn't do anything naughty, and for the rest of the video she didn't do it again. I'm certainly not an advanced rider, and she wasn't truly bolting or anything like that, just a little more than tiny beginner kids could cope with. She goes nicely in a plain snaffle, but like Thomas said, some ponies/kids need a little more bit.

That horse is 30 yrs old!!! She looks amazing!!!

Montanas_Girl
Sep. 9, 2009, 09:25 PM
I had a project pony (a medium) who had been a gaming party in a former life. He was absolutely bombproof, learned to jump anything you put in front of him in about two weeks, and could pack the greenest of kids around the ring. Try to take that little stinker past an open gate, though, and you WERE going through. He was a mustang with a thick neck and thicker head, and he would just bulge his shoulder and GO. It didn't matter how hard you were pulling or who/what was in his way. We tried longe whips (we got pretty rough with him, too, because he was borderline dangerous to anyone who happened to be standing in the gate area), spurs, you name it....it did absolutely no good. Once he was out the gate, he didn't go anywhere. He would stop and was always perfectly willing to turn around and go right back in. :rolleyes: I sold him to a lesson program, and they are very happy with him - they just make sure to keep the gate closed when he is being ridden! It's an incredibly obnoxious habbit, but a fairly harmless one as far as pony tricks go.

Whisper
Sep. 10, 2009, 10:29 AM
Thanks, Let'sChat! They take fantastic care of their "golden oldies." I had a QH gelding (http://www.flickr.com/photos/82782698@N00/3725840680) who was at *least* 33 and still sound W/T/C and over fences up to 2'. He needed his feed soaked/beet pulp/etc., but his vet and farrier said they wished more of the horses half his age were doing so well.

QM2
Sep. 10, 2009, 12:23 PM
Yeah, he does this trick with a closed gate. I never ride with an open gate. I think it's asking for trouble.

His temp is down and he has stopped coughing. I swear it was like the first day of school for the kids and the horses because now the kids are all getting sick. I'm washing my hands like crazy. That's all I need is to get sick.

Ozone
Sep. 10, 2009, 01:13 PM
Makes me think of one of our sweet ponies that would go in the ring with a kid, down the far side over two jumps, around the turn to the outside line pony would jump the first fence, the second and right out the in gate he would go :) Good thing we had happy kids riding this guy! Eventually he stopped, the kids got stronger ;)

I believe it depends on the pony. Bigger kid rides are great but sometimes pony is set in what pony is going to continue to do. Me, personally I would give him the benefit of the doubt, it is not that big of an issue and pony sounds great otherwise! Good luck with your decision!

LuvMyTB
Sep. 10, 2009, 01:31 PM
These are the ponies that teach you how to RIDE. I would definitely get him.

I swear as a kid, I didn't ride anything that didn't bulge, run to the gate, run to the middle of the ring, refuse to go/stop/steer/jump....I had many frustrating rides and sometimes had frustrated parents, but damn if I didn't learn to NOT be a passenger on those school horses.

Later, when I was teaching.....I taught students on similar horses and those kids would just as frustrated as I used to--but they learned to sit up and RIDE. Every single one.

I love school horses. Most are worth their weight in gold, despite their quirks and crankiness.

Good luck with the pony, and hope he feels better soon.

BAC
Sep. 10, 2009, 02:07 PM
I can still see pony hightailing it out as if he was thinking "yeehaw!!! I'm FREE!!!" Then he saw the chickens milling about the yard and they became unwilling accomplices as he chased them into the trees. Chickens were frantically racing every which way and making all kinds of chicken noises I'd never heard before.

For maybe two seconds trainer and I thought this was a little bit entertaining. Then we realized we should probably grow up and go get them. Trainer got on the pony and chased the chickens until that stopped being fun for the pony. I felt bad for the chickens--it had stopped being fun for them a lot earlier. They were exhausted.


I got a good laugh out of this story, poor chickens. :lol:

PicturePerfectPonies
Sep. 10, 2009, 05:13 PM
Gotta love them ponies. My favorite of my ponies, Donatello, pulls the gate trick with any size rider until they prove they won't take it (all they have to do is give him a little kick and pull their inside rein as they pass the gate). However if i kiddo isn't strong enough to push him past the gate all it takes is me holding a lunge whip, or even a crop (ive also been known to use sticks i find on the ground). I don't have to stand by the gate, or follow the pony, i just have to hold it and i swear he keeps one eye on me the entire time its in my hand.

kdow
Sep. 10, 2009, 08:06 PM
Where I learned to ride they had several school horses and ponies that knew that trick (or the similar "go to the center of the ring and stand" trick) and the solution was just to keep things mixed up a bit with the beginners and intermediate riders. So most of the time the beginners would ride them, but every so often an intermediate or even advanced student would hop on for a lesson (normally something involving going back to basics - seat strengthening exercises, that sort of thing) and this happened often enough that the school horses/ponies rarely got away with anything long enough for it to become a habit.

On the odd occasion they DID start developing more of a habit, the instructor would tell you about it before you got on (as an intermediate/advanced rider) - "he's taken to trying to stop in the middle, so when you're crossing the center line make sure you're really keeping him going" so you were prepared.

They'd also, to help with the habit forming problem, do things like during a group lesson (normally an hour) have you come in, stop like you might if you were going to dismount, stand for a moment while the others did something around the outside, then go and someone else would come in, etc. So the horses learned that going to the center didn't necessarily mean 'get ready to stop'. (We even occasionally did stuff like dismounting - one fun lesson was to dismount, then mount again from the wrong side. On horses who were safe for this, of course, but it was fun for the kids because it just felt so weird.)

But basically, by keeping things mixed up a little with the skill of the rider and the routine of the lessons, it seemed to work pretty well in keeping them from getting TOO settled into bad habits.