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View Full Version : Teaching a child to "feel" the mouth



SouthernComfortMax
Sep. 25, 2009, 02:32 PM
Does any one have any advice on a way that I can explain to my 9 year old how to "feel" her ponies mouth? I know what it feels like and I know how to do it I am just having trouble verbalizing it to her.:confused:

EqTrainer
Sep. 25, 2009, 02:49 PM
My daughter is six and rides her pony walk/trot independently.

It has been very interesting to watch her progress. She began taking lessons only a few months ago. Before that she spent A LOT of time on her pony, but never w/the reins in her hands.

When she got reins, I guess because she is observant, she automatically "owned" her elbows, she kept her hands closed, she maintains a passive hand. Did I say she is observant? She is very observant. So seeing correct riding had a profound effect on her understanding of what the reins are for.

When she began taking lessons, her instructor did not tell her to "be soft" or any of those things people get told about their hands.. in fact, she said nothing at all about them other than to keep one on each side of the neck, the reins the same length. But none of the "feelage" conversations.

I think it has been to her great advantage. I often teach people who let the reins get longer because they were told to "be soft" with their hands, etc but never actually taught what that means. And so on and so forth.

So.. does your daughter really need to "learn" this? Can you just teach her what the aids are and let her develop a sense of contact and feel on her own? I really suspect this is one area that teachers botch badly, because so many people have to relearn how to hold the reins, how to have good elbows, etc. etc. etc.

Just some thoughts.

bort84
Sep. 25, 2009, 03:00 PM
When I was trying to get a student to understand what kind of feel they should have, I would often take ahold of the reins by the bit, have the rider close their eyes, and then I would sort of show them what I meant. They would be the horse's "mouth" and I would be the rider's hands, showing them what sort of pressure was necessary for stopping, turning, and just going straight down the rail. It can help them figure out that they don't need to pull, but they shouldn't have sloppy reins either. Obviously as they get better, their concept of contact will improve, but giving them a point of reference can be helpful, especially if you can't verbalize it.

A lot of time going around cones at a walk and doing figures can also help a rider figure out themselves just how much or how little rein aids are necessary. It also helps quicken their reactions. This is also a good time to show her the basics of how hands and legs work together during bending = )

I was another young rider who watched everything. I also read everything horse related I could get ahold of, and my mind soaked up horse info like a sponge. So I would encourage her to spend a lot of time at the barn watching others and listening if you have access to that.

Anselcat
Sep. 25, 2009, 04:03 PM
Put a soft cord in her mouth and have her be the pony and you the rider. Gently of course!

bort84
Sep. 25, 2009, 04:17 PM
Put a soft cord in her mouth and have her be the pony and you the rider. Gently of course!

Haha, that's something I forgot to mention! I used to play "horse" with my friends ALL the time, and I INSISTED they put the "bit" of the bridle in their mouth (usually made with nasty old binder twine...). As I recall, they refused. A nice, clean soft cord would have been much nicer. But it does give them the idea that too hard hurts and too soft leaves them wondering what you want them to do = )

We made some rather elaborate binder twine bridles, and I think even a harness or two, haha. Plus I rode saddle seat at the time, so we tried to pick up our feet really really high as we "trotted" down the aisle. Oh, I also insisted on correct leads, ha.

slc2
Sep. 25, 2009, 08:01 PM
she's nine.

ride that way and she will start copying it when she is able.

scribbles
Sep. 25, 2009, 10:48 PM
Haha, that's something I forgot to mention! I used to play "horse" with my friends ALL the time, and I INSISTED they put the "bit" of the bridle in their mouth (usually made with nasty old binder twine...). As I recall, they refused. A nice, clean soft cord would have been much nicer. But it does give them the idea that too hard hurts and too soft leaves them wondering what you want them to do = )

We made some rather elaborate binder twine bridles, and I think even a harness or two, haha. Plus I rode saddle seat at the time, so we tried to pick up our feet really really high as we "trotted" down the aisle. Oh, I also insisted on correct leads, ha.


we actually used our ponies bits! and we rode hunters, so we had to jump too... :D