View Full Version : Taking Juniors into Eventing for the first time

Nov. 15, 2009, 09:54 AM
OK - I knew this was going to happen eventually. I have a small band of girls who ride - we have a little riding club - they are ages 9-15. The ones who have been riding a while and developed enough solid fundamentals - now after showing low HJ level shows - are bored and really like jumpers and want to try eventing. I knew it would happen - they love to go in the back fields and gallop around....

I told them about the 3 in 1 days and the amoeba level. QUESTION: What do they need now - should I push them buying some vests? I had them all get together and pick colors and boots - get their horses all more-properly booted up to start jumps that do not fall down and are taller than a foot high. Do I need to have them shop for vests?

Any of you who have taken young riders to an event - what sort of advice can you give in regards to safety? I am most concerned about that.


Nov. 15, 2009, 10:23 AM
Yes, they definitely need vests. Do you know anybody who they can borrow a vest from until you know they're hooked? They're not cheap! Take a look on Ebay, I've seen them priced well on their. Maybe 1 or 2 of the more serious girls, who think they'll keep doing this, will purchase and could share with a couple of the other girls My daughter is in Pony Club and we have a few vests that have been shared that are still in good shape. I know it's not ideal, but as a parent I would want to make sure my kid was really into it before shelling out over $200 for a vest. That's a good amount of riding lessons!

gully's pilot
Nov. 15, 2009, 10:29 AM
If there's a pony club near you, call and ask if anyone has old vests either to loan or sell. I got my daughter's last year for $30.

Nov. 15, 2009, 06:13 PM
With or without vests, some schools somewhere else on a "real" xc course are a good try-out. Some riders (and horses) feel the difference between that and a back pasture.

Unrecognized events can give all of you a flavor for it. They may offer an elementary level with low jumps, trot/canter pace, and not require vests. If the girls still love it and want more ... Christmas is coming ... :)

Nov. 15, 2009, 06:35 PM
Ebay, and http://tacksolutions.shoprw.com/home.php has used safety vests.
Like boots and helmets, eventually the parental units will have to be convinced of the importance of personal safety vests, too. But if you have several little ones that can wear a similar size, consider sharing at the first little unrecognized event. We even have one local organizer that has a couple of vests she "rents" to kids who show up without one!

I would also make sure you can bring along more adult helpers for the first event , and of the kids, those who are not riding, should be grooming, holding horses, and course walking right alongside the riders.

If possible try and pick a local event you can get to the day before to walk courses so that on the day you only have to worry about getting all warmed up and in the ring or box on time.
Dressage memorizing needs to get started, too!

For safety, I would practice having one rider at a time go out away from the group, canter over a simple fence, canter to a second fence away from the group, jump it and/or jump it heading back to the group and have them PULL UP and stop BEFORE the pony gets to the other horses. This way you can make sure they have the tools in the toolbox to make the pony or horse do what they want them to do and jump as the kid has directed. Including stopping when they want them to stop, not just run back to the herd and stop.

Cross country schooling in a group can give a kid a false sense of security-- when the occasionally nappy pony gets out there alone without the buds, they can get hard to steer or make go forward on their own.

They should know the rules about refusals and runouts, and what to do if someone is ahead of them on the course (lapped on). They should know what speed to jump each fence -- and when to trot. They should understand what the dressage judge is looking for and how to properly salute and ride a 20 m circle (well, give it a good try) but after that, it's all fun!

I'd set up a cross country schooling day with all of them, and when you arrive -- tell them leave the ponies in the trailer - we are going to walk it first. Then, "practice walk" the cross country course - tell them how they should ride the fences - then go get ponies, get on, and then school it the way you have walked it.

As far as safety the only other thing I would say is make sure that on all the saddles, the stirrup bar is folded open so that in case someone gets galley-west and gets a foot hooked in a stirrup, that the stirrup will slide off the saddle rather than stay hung up. You would not believe the amount of people who ride cross-country with the bar up - a very dangerous practice I think.

Nov. 15, 2009, 09:34 PM
Also they will each need medical armbands (http://www.bitofbritain.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=002805) Even if the event doesn't require it, its just a good idea to have emergency contact info, insurance info, etc attached physically to the kid. They never go out of style!

Go over the rules for warm-up jumps -- red flag on the right!! Scaryscary if someone accidentally comes through the wrong way.

Can you take them on an outing to watch, or maybe volunteer as a group at a nearby event? To kind of see how it all happens, very differently from a H/J show.

Nov. 17, 2009, 11:09 PM
They have competed some dressage already. And we are going to watch a 3-in-1 day this Saturday. My biggest concern is the cross country. They gallop in the pasture and on the trail in open fields they do not know. But yes - as a group. I know XC is different. My horse, Wolf needs LEG all the time. But the one time I let probably my best rider canter field jumps at a neighbor's field - he was SO excited - he canter bucked and she got knocked off. What happened REALLY is - that he was so different than he was in the ring or even in the field at home with his buddies - that she was caught off guard even though I warned her many times. I demonstrated on him as well but I guess I made it took easier than it was maybe. Her mom said - well, its good for her because she thinks she can leap tall buildings..... and I thought ok - WHEW. BUT needless to say - I was like - ok - everyone BACK in the ring.

I have built a few great jumps in my fields. I need to find a place where they can school really small jumps in the fields. Percy Warner has BN fences that except for the water jump and a log - they are too much for them I think.

I guess we will ebay search and get some vests. I saw some dirt cheap ugly ones for $25 and they can always clean them up and put them back on ebay if they change their minds? There really is only one rider who I think might change her mind. Two are not ready so they will do dressage and HJ shows.... and play groom. But I have 4 who are ready and I THINK they will blossom.

I have been moving them SO SLOW on the most part. Making them do HJ for 2 years. Two of them have green horses though - a 5 year old Appy and a 7 year old Paint. Both look like bay Thoroughbreds, you know how that goes.

Nov. 17, 2009, 11:22 PM
I need to find a place where they can school really small jumps in the fields. Percy Warner has BN fences that except for the water jump and a log - they are too much for them I think.

Rojas will let you school, and I think Fox Run has some little XC in Cadiz. Also, there is a new XC course in Pulaski with 18"-2' jumps as well as BN, N and Training. Same course design as PWP, so a lot of the same fences you see at the learn to event.

Nov. 22, 2009, 10:30 AM
Get in touch with your local eventing organization and go beyond the published material - talk to people. Likely you will find great tips for getting started, and you will likely find that someone is offering an unregistered first-timers and total-beginners venue. With a shorter xc course that is very simple ... the xc version of beginner jumping classes.

Borrowing and finding used vests is the best option economically. When the girls decide their commitment to eventing and xc they can decide if they need something more.

Just fyi there are new vests from $100-$150 at this link. Don't know anything about them personally.


All the best!

Nov. 22, 2009, 10:26 PM
I have found with that age of rider (and younger, I had three at 8 years at one stage) that no matter how fast they went at home (and these kids were galloping at home) they trail round the XC at snail speed, almot too slow for their ponies to jump the 12" jumps!!!:yes: It was sooo funny watching them go r e a l l y slowly. They all thought that they had gone at great speed. Luckily we videoed so they could see themselves. They never really got any speed up until half way through their second season.
Obviously they all had excellent control of their ponies and were passed numerous times:lol:. They hadn't even realised they'd been passed til they saw the video.