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View Full Version : Peeps Who Teach Little Kids, Can You Check In Please? A Question



EqTrainer
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:27 PM
Preface: I don't teach small children!

LMEqT had her first lesson w/her new instructor yesterday. For the most part, it went fine. I have a question tho' -

Her lessons are 1/2 hour long as she is only 6 years old. I had confirmed when I began taking her there that she would not be expected to tack up as she is 1) 6 and 2) her lesson is only a half an hour. I wanted to be sure her time would be spent riding.

Yesterday she was told by her new instructor that it was her responsibility to check all of her tack and adjust it herself. She is not physically capable of this, and even w/assistance it took a good 10 minutes, maybe more.

Now.. I *know* that this is something that she has to learn to do, and I *know* that a lot of kids are snobby about this and think it is the "helps" job to do so. That is not the case here; she DOES take care of her own pony at home (who is a medium and appropriate for her to handle); she is responsible for quite a bit of her daily care and she does halter her and bring her in/out by herself. She can bridle her w/help and she grooms herself with help and she gets her saddle and pads but I saddle her pony.

My point is, I don't think LMEqT is at risk for becoming a spoiled hunter princess who doesn't know how to tack her own horse. I do think that at this age her lessons should be about riding not doing things she is not physically capable of doing on a large pony. I do not want a third of her lessons spent on things she can/will learn at home.

I also feel I should mention that she is a model student; she listens carefully, does what she is told to do, is respectful and takes her lessons very seriously. So she struggled with trying to tighten a girth that was above her head, etc. etc.

Now.. because I teach, I respect that this person has their own teaching program. I can understand that with older kids having longer lessons, particularly kids who do not own their own horses/live on a farm, that learning to tack properly is very important. How should I diplomatically approach this? I don't want to start off on the wrong hoof but nor do I want to continue like this...

thoughts?

wsmoak
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:31 PM
Not an instructor, but the BO teaches very beginners.

She tacks up for them, but they are expected to do a "safety check" before every ride and call her attention to anything out of order. I suspect that as they progress, she sometimes leaves things for them to find. :)

ReSomething
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:33 PM
I think you need to wait a little until the instructor gets a feel for your child's attention span and has first hand experience with your child's knowledge and practices. Although it is probably different with you, the instructor is probably acting from experience with lots of the rest of us parents who represent our kids as something they are not - better or worse.

ynl063w
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:38 PM
Is your daughter the only one who is expected to check her tack? If so, talk to the trainer. If not, either get to the barn early enough that the tack can be checked prior to the lesson, or find another place for your daughter to ride.

sycamoreshowmom
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:38 PM
Sure, but I am hoping the 1/2 hour starts running once your daughter is mounted! All lesson times at the barn we ride at start once you are mounted and riding.

80s rider
Jan. 10, 2010, 05:49 PM
I agree, try to get to the lesson and tack up prior to your lesson- when she's getting on the pony- say something to your child in front of the instructor, such as-"Have a good lesson, see you in half an hour." And make sure the instructor sees you look at your watch to check the time..lol
If the lesson only goes for 20 mins-say, "Wow, that was a quick lesson" and look at your watch again. "I thought her lesson was supposed to be 30 mins?" .....

Limerick
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:03 PM
My youngest is six and she needs a LOT of help. She can't physically reach to put the saddle on properly nor the bridle on her small pony. She can put the reins over the head, roll up stirrups, and help groom.

Honestly.....I think this might be a red flag if the trainer is making a blanket statement that all kids have to do this. Six year olds aren't strong enough or tall enough to tack up. They need assistance every step of the way. Six is young to be handling a 700 lb plus animal. :yes:

I would also take 80's rider's advice and be sure the lesson is 30 minutes or *almost* 30 minutes. And I would try to get there early enough that your daughter can try to groom and tack up with your help.

Pony Soprano
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:05 PM
The little ones are my favorites to teach :)

For most of my students they need to arrive before the lesson times to tack up, but obviously you have to make some exceptions.

I will usually have the horse ready for the ones that are too small so that they can start on time. I make it clear to the parents that the student will eventually be responsible for the grooming, tacking, etc. Every once in a while I will schedule the student to have a barn lesson instead of a riding lesson so they can start to hone those skills, but I usually try to reserve that for rainy days rather than having to cancel altogether. I also really encourage them to send the child to our camps during the summer for a week or two, when we have plenty of time to practice ground lessons and they can really get it down.

If I have a student, regardless of age, that I am not sure can tack up alone, I either make sure that I am available in the barn to check on things or that I have an assistant in the barn helping.

Once they are past the begining point though, I am a stickler for being punctual and ready to start on time. If you get on at the right time, but spend 10 minutes adjusting your stirrups and tightening your girth, you are probably only going to ride for 20 minutes. If your horse has shavings in his tail, you will be sent in to finishing cleaning.

cholmberg
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:06 PM
if you are paying for half hour lessons. . . .I would expect that time to
start once the child was in the arena and the lesson actually started.
Teaching a student to tack up is all well and good, but most people
go to lesson for -riding- instruction. I'd be upset if a third of the time
was taken up by asking a six year old to check and adjust her own
tack. . . . .my daughter is also six, and she would not be able to
do most adjustments on tack at all on anything but a very
tiny pony and even then a lot of the buckles would be too
stiff for her to operate.

Movin Artfully
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:08 PM
Her lessons are 1/2 hour long as she is only 6 years old. I had confirmed when I began taking her there that she would not be expected to tack up as she is 1) 6 and 2) her lesson is only a half an hour. I wanted to be sure her time would be spent riding. I do think that at this age her lessons should be about riding not doing things she is not physically capable of doing on a large pony. I do not want a third of her lessons spent on things she can/will learn at home.

I also feel I should mention that she is a model student; she listens carefully, does what she is told to do, is respectful and takes her lessons very seriously. So she struggled with trying to tighten a girth that was above her head, etc. etc.


When the lesson technically begins (when mounted, on arrival, when the clock strikes 3, etc.) is highly variable by barn.

When I taught...a 30 minute lesson was 29 minutes in the saddle- horse already tacked and waiting for you- and the lesson starting on the clock. Riders dismounted at minute 29...payment made at minute 30. On to the next lesson/kid. The BO was a business woman and the business did very well.

Some younger kids, ADHD kids, autistic kids...couldn't handle 29 minutes of riding initially. At that point, we typically added grooming and tacking as an extra diversion. I had a couple of 3 and 4 yos who LOVED grooming and tacking- maybe more than riding and with discussion with parents...and the fact that I thought they were incredibly young anyway...mom and dad agreed that this was okay. For them it was more about the 30 minute "experience."

When young riders developed the attention span to ride for the full 30 minutes, most did- or moved to 60 minute lessons with 15 tack, 30 ride, 15 untack and cool.

It sounds like you specifically want your child to have riding time only. If you discussed this with the instructor ahead of time, I would wait until lesson #2 to address it. This is simply because the instructor may have used lesson #1 to gauge how much your child already knows as well as to evaluate things like attention span and general appropriateness around horses. After 1 lesson, the instructor should have a good feel for the child and be able to move forward with the riding if your daughter has the maturity to handle it. (It sounds like she does) :)

EqTrainer
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:10 PM
I guess I should mention that the pony is already groomed/tacked and ready for her to lead out when she gets there. The *concept* is there and in the past has worked perfectly - and her old instructor *showed* her what she was doing, as far as tightening the girth, checking the stirrup length, etc. so she was learning what to do before you get on. But she did not expect her to actually do it herself. That was the big difference, she was told she was expected to check it herself and then make adjustments, tighten the girth, in this case adjust a martingale, do her stirrups - all things she does need to learn to do - but is not physically capable of doing yet.

It did leave me wondering if her new instructor knows what a six year old actually can and cannot do.. perhaps she taught mostly older kids.

Great replies everyone, thank you so much, lots to think about!

Pony Soprano
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:15 PM
I agree that it sounds like the new teacher is not familiar with working with small children. Adjusting a martingale is asking a little much, much less ensuring that she chooses an optimum stirrup length.

shawneeAcres
Jan. 10, 2010, 06:41 PM
When I teach small children I expect them to "help" with grooming and tacking, they can put the girth on the off side with some help and I have them "tighten the girth" except I hold the ends of the billets and help them pull. As far as length of lessons, I go the amount of time I feel is warranted for the lesson, ability, attention span, and what i wish to accomplish for that session not the amount of time. I think a 3 - 5 minute "lets go over everything" would not be out of the way, and basically have instructor say "what do you think we should check before riding today". More of a quiz than child actually doing it. I have taught many 5 and 6 yr olds and modify my lessons for those ages accordingly.

Hunter Mom
Jan. 10, 2010, 07:24 PM
Not an instructor at all, but another horsey mom who also helps our littler kids at the barn and has helped with a camp as well.

IMHO, 6 is too young for a kid to be even adjusting by themselves. They can check a girth, put stirrups up, put a girt on the off side by themselves at that age. With help, they can probably fasten/unfasten buckles on a bridle (if the leather is soft enough), fasten a curb chain, put the pad on the pony, carry the tack to the pony and a few other things. They have neither the strength or the fine motor skills to do much of the work at that age. DD is a tall, strong 7 year old, and just began to put her saddle on her pony - but now that she's moved on to a horse, guess what I get to do again.

We do expect kids of any age to help with their horses - they can brush (although we often do the top half because they can't reach), pick out a foot that is held if the horse is cooperative, maybe comb a tail. They carry what they're capable of - usually the girth/bridle/pad. If the horse poops, they have to help clean it up & carry it outside to the dumpster.

alittlegray
Jan. 10, 2010, 07:45 PM
I would say something if it happens again. Maybe mention that you feel 30 minutes is too short of a time frame for a child that age to have to check all of her tack. Maybe the instructor is not used to working with kids that small?

KristiKGC
Jan. 10, 2010, 07:55 PM
When I teach small children I expect them to "help" with grooming and tacking, they can put the girth on the off side with some help and I have them "tighten the girth" except I hold the ends of the billets and help them pull. As far as length of lessons, I go the amount of time I feel is warranted for the lesson, ability, attention span, and what i wish to accomplish for that session not the amount of time. I think a 3 - 5 minute "lets go over everything" would not be out of the way, and basically have instructor say "what do you think we should check before riding today". More of a quiz than child actually doing it. I have taught many 5 and 6 yr olds and modify my lessons for those ages accordingly.

This is what I do. Each child is so different at that age that usually the first lesson is spent evaluating their attention span, ability, etc. Even my 9 year old students are barely physically capable of checking that stuff, I certainly don't expect a 6 year old to be able to do it!

Haalter
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:19 PM
I taught little ones for years. Personally, I find that 1/2 hour in the saddle is too long for the average six-year-old. I suppose that for a kid who's grown up with a trainer for a parent it's a little different. I would guess that the new trainer generally spends time doing more basic stuff (i.e. brushing, "this is the bridle, the bit goes in the mouth" speech) with total beginners at this age for 10 minutes out of the half-hour (that's what I always did), and maybe thinks that because your daughter already knows that the saddle pad goes under the saddle and not over it, she should be moving on to more advanced tasks that are apparently over her head. Personally, I'd be focusing more on riding time with a six-year-old that had some riding experience...or I'd use that ground time to do the "quiz" others have mentioned, or go over things like identifying parts of the horse rather than expecting the kid to do things she's not yet strong/tall/coordinated enough to do.

Is there not a good lesson program in your area that focuses on little kids?

Haalter
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:25 PM
Each child is so different at that age that usually the first lesson is spent evaluating their attention span, ability, etc.
And ditto on this. I've had six-year-olds that were posting the trot in their first lesson, and six-year-olds that could barely sit balanced in the saddle at a standstill. I have found that between ages 6 and 9 there is LOT of difference in both physical coordination and attention span from one child to another.

AllyandPete
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:31 PM
My lessons are in half hour blocks one following the other and I use the same horse for an hours worth of lessons. When I have a 6 year old, I use the horse in the lesson before, so that when one rider gets off, the 6 year old just has to hop up, and I adjust stirrups.

They ride the whole half hour and depending on the physical and mental maturity of the student we may spend a lot of time w/t in hand or w/t on the longe.

Because of the way my lessons are scheduled (not by me, by the director) if the student would like to do grooming/horse care, it has to be a part of the half an hour. If the child repeatedly asks me, I will talk to their parents about it first, because I would feel jipped if I were the parent and saw my kid get off 10 minutes early.

Sometimes if I am lucky I have a barn rat around and the horse is done after that lesson. If that is the case, then the child can stay on the whole time and one of the girls will help them groom.

nlk
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:33 PM
My very first private with a child that age would be to get them straight on the pony and see what they know and can do and if their attention will hold the whole 1/2 hour.

After that I might go about having them attempt to due their stirrups and girth.

I certainly have 6 year olds that I have ride in group classes. If they are big enough to ride Walk trot and canter in a group for an hour they are big enough to give it a try. I always readjust after they get on, and double check the girth. I am also right there to help if they need it but I do require them to try.

Do I expect them to actually be able to do it? No. But I think it instills a good habit of always trying before you say I can't (which is a forbidden word when you ride with me ;)

I find often that parents expect to little of there children. Or rather always want them to experience success. I am not saying this is you I'm just saying a great deal of my parents feel this way.

As far as time. 5mins tops should be used in a private for adjustments before you step in as an instructor and get things organized. then the lesson runs till the very end of that 30 mins or maybe 5 mins to the end for the little ones. I use this time to have them cool their horses out but they are often doing something like posting at the walk with out their stirrups. Again they are on and working till their 1/2 hour is up either way.

For groups it may take 10 mins to get all 6 riders on and totally adjusted for the little ones. My advanced (walk trot canter+ ) get out 5 mins early and get adjusted so they are on when class starts. At the end of every group they have 10 mins to cool out and leave the arena. sometimes I go over things that they need to work on, talk to parents and answer questions, sometimes they ride bareback. Other times I simply let them wander around talking to one another.

grooming and tacking are done before class. Most that are canter students arrive 1/2 hour early to get their horses ready. All jump students are required to. But again grooming, tacking, untacking, and rubbing down are after the hour is up.

superpony123
Jan. 10, 2010, 08:55 PM
um......... show up in advance? at almost every lesson program ive ever known, the riding time starts when it is scheduled to start. if my lesson is scheduled to start at noon, then i should be in the ring at noon, already on/getting on the horse. i tack up before that. or, in child's case, the pony is supposed to be tacked up by that time for her.

help get the pony ready with her like you would at home. she grooms as much as she can and gets the tack, then you put the tack on the pony. she is capable of checking tack (well, not girth) but i mean that she can stick her fingers under the noseband and say its too tight or too loose or just right, fist under the throat latch, etc. she can pull on the girth and say, maybe this is too loose and you can tighten it for her.

from a different perspective:
i am a working student in a boarding barn that also has a lesson program, and it drives me nuts when i have the pony ready for a kid, and then they proceed to take ten minutes to find their gloves and oh wait i forgot my crop in the car (but we have some in the ring! "no, i want to use my own" .. ugh) now where was my helmet again? yadda yadda and then when their lesson time is cut short, some how this is MY fault and my trainers fault that THEY came unprepared, and it is an OUTRAGE that they must pay all this money when they are not getting what they paid for. To which i say why should every lesson after yours suffer by being made later when THEY are also paying money to have their lesson ON TIME? i am not saying that this is how you/your daughter are, but it's something to consider. i guess what i'm saying is that you can't throw the blame on just one person in this situation

Atypical
Jan. 10, 2010, 09:15 PM
Even my little kid lessons are an hour. This is because grooming and "tacking up" are made part of the hour. The hour starts on the hour, whether they are there or not. The little ones groom their pony/horse, I aid with hooves and back they can't reach. I usually incorporate a small mini lesson in with this, either parts of the horse, what to look for when grooming, etc. I will put the saddle on and adjust the girth if they are physically unable. I also bridle, but expect them to at least give a go at doing up the straps. They are generally on the horse for 30 or so minutes, with ten minutes left at the end for untacking and grooming.

By the time they can safely catch, secure, groom and tack up their horse on their own they are welcome to come early and get ready so they can ride longer.

Haalter
Jan. 10, 2010, 09:27 PM
I think what it comes down to is, everyone does it a little differently. As a rule, I do half-hour lessons for beginners, until they can walk-trot-canter and not be sore the next day. Kids who are not old enough/experienced enough to tack up on their own yet are charged a $10 additional fee for me to tack up for them while they "assist" before the lesson starts (we also offer this as an optional service for adults, regardless of ability - they just show up at the lesson time with the horse already tacked up for them for $10 - or they can do it themselves before their lesson time and not be charged for the service). Then the half-hour lesson begins, and it's 1/2 hour ON the horse/pony. The exception is for beginner kids under 8, for whom I include the tacking up as part of the 1/2 hour, so they aren't charged an additional $10 fee, but they end up riding for about 20 minutes and tacking/untacking for the other 10 minutes.

meupatdoes
Jan. 10, 2010, 09:31 PM
I would expect young lesson kids to

1. show up 15 minutes before the lesson so they can

2. use that time to "help" prep the pony. They can do a little swipe with the hoof oil, brush the tail a little, etc.
They should also "check the girth" and participate in the stirrup length adjustments, etc, but the end responsibility on this category lies with the instructor. No way is a little kid strong enough to actually tighten a girth.

3. Lesson clock starts at the mounting block, provided the kid arrived early enough to get the "prep time" done. If they pull in 3 minutes before all flustered and running around, well, then they can learn to show up in a timely manner next time.

FlyingSwap
Jan. 10, 2010, 09:43 PM
I have a small lesson program of mainly very young children.

One of the questions I am always asked by the parents of a prospective student is "How much is it per hour?". This is the exact reason that I do not charge per hour or half-hour, but rather "per lesson".

Obviously, my 7 year old is not going to be riding as long or as intensely as my 16 year old.

I explain that what is involved in "a lesson" is catching, grooming, tacking, riding, untacking, bathing in summer, blanketing in winter and turning back out. Then, if the parent is not pressed for time, I let the little ones help with barn chores like filling water tanks and stuff. If they have to leave right after the lesson, no problem. All of my kids LOVE to do barn work and always ask their parents to stay. My 8 year old begs to clean stalls!

I let the little ones do as much as they can by themselves (supervised, of course). They can't lift the saddles and they can't put bridles on, but they can do nosebands and throatlatches and they understand the mechanics of the things that they are not yet strong enough to do. They all know how to take off polo wraps and roll them correctly. They are expected to clean their bits and figure-8 their bridles. If they have time, I have them clean their tack completely. They are taught how to do everything and then they are expected to practice what they know.

We have a portion of the mounted lesson where we stop in the middle of the ring and do balance exercises and I quiz them on parts of the pony and tack, pony breeds and colors "How big is Heart? What kind of pony is she? What color is Dapples?" and they really know their stuff. This summer they got interested in fox hunting, and now I have a group of under-10-year-olds who can perfectly recite everything needed for an appointments class. :D

I encourage them to do everything they CAN, and am there to help them when they need help. I have definitely found that charging per lesson is the way to go, instead of setting an amount of time. Lessons at that age are so subjective.

I cannot imagine that your child's lesson time would include tack checks and stuff---surely the half hour means time actually spent in the saddle!!

hntrjmprpro45
Jan. 10, 2010, 09:45 PM
I teach all my riders how to groom and tack. I don't expect a 6 year old to put a saddle on, tighten it up etc, but I do expect them to watch and "help" (even if that means holding the saddle pad). They usually really like the grooming part and the picking the feet part (I hold the hoof for them). I always check all equipment before any of my beginners get on (regardless of age). This is considered part of the lesson which leaves about 25-35minutes of riding time. This usually works out perfectly for a 6-9year old students since they do not have the stamina or mental focus to go longer.

Now obviously my intermediate and advanced students are expected to get ready before hand (including lunging or extra warm up).

seeuatx
Jan. 10, 2010, 10:06 PM
Not currently teaching, but when I was (up till just a few months ago) I only taught the littles. 12 was my oldest.

I did ask my kids to come at least 10 minutes early and ready to ride (everything on except helmet). A six year old I would expect to help do a quick grooming, and HELP tack. ie put saddle on with assistant but I would do the girth. I put the bridle on the pony, and the kiddo would adjust the throatlatch and noseband. Then it was off to ride.

For untacking They did most of it except things like undoing the girth. They could spend as much time as they wanted grooming and fiddling around.

Since she has her own pony and you are an experienced horse person, I would think nothing of her not doing everything. She has her own pony to fiddle with. I would probably tack up and just have her help do some adjustments. So we can spend more time riding, where most other 6yo without their own pony only have that 1/2 hour a week to learn everything.

EqTrainer
Jan. 10, 2010, 10:35 PM
um......... show up in advance? at almost every lesson program ive ever known, the riding time starts when it is scheduled to start. if my lesson is scheduled to start at noon, then i should be in the ring at noon, already on/getting on the horse. i tack up before that. or, in child's case, the pony is supposed to be tacked up by that time for her.

help get the pony ready with her like you would at home. she grooms as much as she can and gets the tack, then you put the tack on the pony. she is capable of checking tack (well, not girth) but i mean that she can stick her fingers under the noseband and say its too tight or too loose or just right, fist under the throat latch, etc. she can pull on the girth and say, maybe this is too loose and you can tighten it for her.

from a different perspective:
i am a working student in a boarding barn that also has a lesson program, and it drives me nuts when i have the pony ready for a kid, and then they proceed to take ten minutes to find their gloves and oh wait i forgot my crop in the car (but we have some in the ring! "no, i want to use my own" .. ugh) now where was my helmet again? yadda yadda and then when their lesson time is cut short, some how this is MY fault and my trainers fault that THEY came unprepared, and it is an OUTRAGE that they must pay all this money when they are not getting what they paid for. To which i say why should every lesson after yours suffer by being made later when THEY are also paying money to have their lesson ON TIME? i am not saying that this is how you/your daughter are, but it's something to consider. i guess what i'm saying is that you can't throw the blame on just one person in this situation

If I showed up early it would make no difference. This was something done in the ring *after* her lesson time had begun.

My daughter shows up for her lessons helmet, gloves and chaps on, five minutes early every time. She is waiting for her pony, not the other way around. I know there are a lot of people who are casual about their kids lessons, I am not one of them.

--

This has a been a great thread, thank you everyone. I think I will see how her next lesson begins and if the same scenario begins to repeat I will talk to her instructor about what I expect. I have told her briefly that LMEqT has her own pony, rides at home regularly and what level of involvement she has and is capable of. I am sure she may be overwhelmed with a new situation or maybe she doesn't realize that it would be a good idea to listen carefully to what moms tell you, I guess we will find out soon enough :lol:

superpony123
Jan. 10, 2010, 10:38 PM
If I showed up early it would make no difference. This was something done in the ring *after* her lesson time had begun.

My daughter shows up for her lessons helmet, gloves and chaps on, five minutes early every time. She is waiting for her pony, not the other way around. I know there are a lot of people who are casual about their kids lessons, I am not one of them.\

ah, my bad. regardless, i suggest you have a word with the trainer then, and outline your concerns for her. if she has no respect for them, then it should probably mean it's time to find a new place for lessons. but, chances are, she's probably going to listen and be able to make an adjustment

hellerkm
Jan. 11, 2010, 06:18 AM
When I picked a trainer for my daughters I chose one that I knew , well, and that I knew would understand that my kids were way ahead of the beginners she sometimes gets. My girls are like your daughter, my 13 yr old is completely independent around horses, my 6 yr old can't tack up alone yet ( pony is too tall LOL) but knows how to do it an can help with almost everything but saddle and girth. We go early to our lessons ,catch their horses, and tack up, we are expected to be in the ring and ready when its time for them to ride.Otherwise if we are still tacking up that is on us. The only thing the trainer does is adjust stirrups and tightens girths after the first walk around the ring, she does not expect the kids to do this she does it for them so the lesson continues to run smoothly.
I would be there early to tack up, just so your DD gets as much riding time as possible, and if this happens at the next lesson I would enter the ring and tighten the girth for her so she can start to ride while mentioning that she is only 6 and not strong enough to do this herself. IF the trainer feels strongly about the kid doing it along than I would figure she does not know much about little kids and find another one!

JumpWithPanache
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:30 AM
I didn't read all the responses and I've been out of teaching for over a year (Yay for Ammy status!), but I did teach a lot of the little ones.

We expected students to tack up their horses and be ready for the lesson to start. This meant that students and parents were responsible to arrive in plenty of time for the kid to get ready to go. For a new student we made sure that an instructor or barn rat was available for the half hour prior to lesson start during the first month or so to help the student and/or parent learn to groom and tack up. In the case that a horse/pony was being handed off to the next student we taught our students to do a quick safety check. And this is very much in line with the only things I expected of my little ones. The routine was this: check the bridle to make sure everything is buckled and there are no twists, check both sides of the girth to make sure it is buckled and tight, drop the stirrups and check the length, adjust as needed. When a student was unable to adjust the stirrups I did it for them, or if they were fairly young (under ten) I would "help" them with one side and do the other side. After a month of helping them through the routine most of the kids could go through all the motions themselves in about two minutes flat. There were kids who were either more of a perfectionist or just not as quick in their movements, and they always took a little longer. It drove me nuts, but at least they were correctly learning the safety habits and they knew that it ate into their lesson time. I think of it as muscle memory insurance. Most got much more effective and/or learned to be ringside a little early to start their prep work. The "set-up" time also gave me a chance to evaluate the kid's mood, attention span, and aptitude for that particular day which allowed me to start modifying the lesson plan as needed.

I would recommend asking the instructor her philosophy to the set-up period and how much help she provides to students with age/size limitations like a six year old. Best of luck!

M. O'Connor
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:44 AM
Thanks for pointing out something I will be sure to mention in the little text I'm writing about teaching children.

My thoughts are:

I want all my students to know how to tack up, and I consider horsemanship to be a basic component of my program.

BUT.

Kids being kids, and young kids having wildly variable attention spans as well as fine motor skills and capabilities related to such a vital safety issue as tacking up, I would not count on a child that young to live up to the responsibility on a regular basis.

In time, certainly, but I wouldn't think it's the most efficient use of the half hour, particularly if I were on the paying end.

On the receiving end, pony camp and horsemanship classes with group settings are a much more efficient way to impart those skills, and generate revenue.

ponies123
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:45 AM
If trainer wants kid to work on tacking, grooming, etc. herself than that is fine IMO. What is not fine is if it is eating into the lesson time! I haven't been at a lesson barn in a long time, but when I was the rule was you arrived 20-30 minutes before your scheduled lesson time so that you could groom and tack up and be in the ring, mounted at your lesson time. When I had my own ponies/horses working with a trainer I got my horse ready and met her in the ring at scheduled lesson time. I think that is how it should work.

Long Spot
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:47 AM
and her old instructor *showed* her what she was doing, as far as tightening the girth, checking the stirrup length, etc. so she was learning what to do before you get on. But she did not expect her to actually do it herself. This is how I handle the young ones as well.


It did leave me wondering if her new instructor knows what a six year old actually can and cannot do.. perhaps she taught mostly older kids.


I wondered that too, as I was reading your post. Did you notice in her teaching if it seemed that way? Was she able to work with your DD in a fun way that she could understand? Seem to have a grasp of the length and breadth of her attention span?

Sounds like you have a good plan for her next lesson. Good luck!

2WBs1TB
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:56 AM
Preface: I don't teach small children!

LMEqT had her first lesson w/her new instructor yesterday. For the most part, it went fine. I have a question tho' -

Her lessons are 1/2 hour long as she is only 6 years old. I had confirmed when I began taking her there that she would not be expected to tack up as she is 1) 6 and 2) her lesson is only a half an hour. I wanted to be sure her time would be spent riding.

And why can't a 6 year old learn to tack up? I've taught them as young as 4 and they definitely did learn to tack up as that is part of horsemanship. They learn to get out all the grooming tools, groom properly to include picking feet (with an adult helping hold the foot), they learn to tack up with a step stool if necessary (with me providing a "boost" to help get the saddle up, if needed) they learn to girth the horse properly, girth on bottom hole on off-side, then brought under to first hole on near side, go back to other side and make as tight as they can, then back to near side for final tightening. Can they get the girth as tight as it needs to be? No. I go and do a final tightening before mounting, but they've done the "tacking up". And yes, this is part of their lesson the first 2-3 times. Once they're going through the motions by themselves CORRECTLY, Mom is advised to come 20-30 min early so student can tack up. I still "supervise" but they do it pretty much on their own, except for the picking of feet and the actual placing of the saddle on the back.


Yesterday she was told by her new instructor that it was her responsibility to check all of her tack and adjust it herself. She is not physically capable of this, and even w/assistance it took a good 10 minutes, maybe more. Is your daughter particulary small or weak that she can't see if a girth is tight and give it her best shot? It is part of developing a routine that will carry over as she matures. It should always be the rider's responsibility to check their tack before mounting.


Now.. I *know* that this is something that she has to learn to do, and I *know* that a lot of kids are snobby about this and think it is the "helps" job to do so. That is not the case here; she DOES take care of her own pony at home (who is a medium and appropriate for her to handle); she is responsible for quite a bit of her daily care and she does halter her and bring her in/out by herself. She can bridle her w/help and she grooms herself with help and she gets her saddle and pads but I saddle her pony.

If she does it at home, why can't she do this at the lesson barn? Show up early and be ready to ride at her assigned time. Simple.


My point is, I don't think LMEqT is at risk for becoming a spoiled hunter princess who doesn't know how to tack her own horse. I do think that at this age her lessons should be about riding not doing things she is not physically capable of doing on a large pony. I do not want a third of her lessons spent on things she can/will learn at home. Well, as an instructor I would not make any assumption about what students learn at home. I've had to correct some pretty dangerous and lazy behaviours that Mom taught snookums. At her age, her lessons should be about horsemanship, not just riding. I have unmounted lessons with my students of all ages where they learn more than just riding because that is the foundation they need at this age. I don't treat kids who own their own ponies any different than those who don't. That way I know everyone knows the same things.


I also feel I should mention that she is a model student; she listens carefully, does what she is told to do, is respectful and takes her lessons very seriously. So she struggled with trying to tighten a girth that was above her head, etc. etc.

Ask for a step stool or mounting block. That's what my kids use and have no problems.


Now.. because I teach, I respect that this person has their own teaching program. I can understand that with older kids having longer lessons, particularly kids who do not own their own horses/live on a farm, that learning to tack properly is very important. How should I diplomatically approach this? I don't want to start off on the wrong hoof but nor do I want to continue like this...

thoughts?

I think you're a little over-reacting.

I would think that you would appreciate the instructor teaching your daughter proper safety and horsemanship from the beginning. Do you, as an instructor, make assumptions about what your students know and don't know when they first come to you? I don't. I explain up front that the first lesson or two (no matter what level they're at) will probably be review for them. It's a "get to know each other" stage where I see what they know and what they don't, both on the ground and mounted.

Do you know how many students I've had come to me from other barns that had been riding for YEARS who didn't know how to pick out a horse's foot? Put on a breatsplate? How to adjust a martingale or how to clean tack? How to properly place the saddle? How to correctly tighten a girth? Way too many.

I would simply ask the instructor at what point does all 30 minutes go towards riding? I don't know her response, but mine is, "When I'm satisfied the student knows how to tack up correctly." And, yes I do take into account each student's physical abilities. The ones that really need help get it where needed, but they don't get a free ride (so to speak).

Phaxxton
Jan. 11, 2010, 10:14 AM
If I showed up early it would make no difference. This was something done in the ring *after* her lesson time had begun.


Can you go near the pony before the lesson starts and adjust everything with your daughter? This way, when the instructor asks her about those things in the ring, your daughter can just point out that they are already properly adjusted? Or does she have to spend time "checking" everything with the trainer watching?

I don't mean being sneaky in doing this either. I'm genuinely asking if the horses are available to the students to check their tack, etc. before the lesson time starts.

trinityhill
Jan. 11, 2010, 10:19 AM
What I do with my little ones is they come early and help me get the pony ready, both grooming and tacking. Leaves me to do the tough stuff like holding up a pony's leg for picking, putting the saddle up, really tightening up the girth, getting the bridle on the pony's head, etc, but the student is right there to help with everything they are physically able to do. I have them "check their tack" which involves them feeling if the girth is tight, making sure the bridle is on right, and than attempt to fix it. If they are not able, every last one of them knows that it is alright to ask me for help after trying it. That being said, I no way no how leave a proper tack check up to any student, let alone a 6 year old. I check everything myself before letting a student get on. But I feel them knowing what to check and to know what is right or wrong is a very very important thing to teach. Get them in the correct habit now and it will be with them for the rest of their lives.
They then ride for 20-40 minutes depending on the child and what we are working on for the day, than they help untack and groom their pony. While I am only getting paid for the 30 minute riding lesson, I feel it is of such great importance to create horsemen out of the students that I take the extra hour to help the little ones learn how to do everything correctly every week.
While the idea of attention span may be an issue for some, if you make the learning fun even the littlest can keep their attention on you and learning for the 1/2 hour groom, 1/2 hour ride, and 1/2 hour untack. Unless the child truly can not focus for that long, than grooming/tacking/un-tacking is required for every student. If I have one that is in the truly can not focus category than I will have the pony tacked when they get here, they will "check their tack", ride, and will have to untack. I will not set up lessons where the horse is handed to them and then taken from them after. It is just not how I run my program, even though I do see the need for that type of program with some of the larger barns.

Vandy
Jan. 11, 2010, 11:19 AM
While I am only getting paid for the 30 minute riding lesson, I feel it is of such great importance to create horsemen out of the students that I take the extra hour to help the little ones learn how to do everything correctly every week.
I see your point, but personally, I can't afford to get paid for a half-hour lesson to do 1.5 hours worth of work. There is no reason tacking/untacking can't be accomplished in 10 minutes apiece, even if you are walking a little kid through the steps. And actually, for a six-year-old, I generally have them riding for less than a half-hour if we take a long time preparing the pony. If a parent complained that they wanted more riding time, I'd charge them for 45 minutes or an hour if that's the time I was spending with the child to ensure that 1/2 hour was mounted time...but I've never had a complaint. Why should they be paying for a half-hour of my time and getting a lot more when the more advanced students show up all tacked up and pay the same thing for my time?

And this, my friends, is probably the reason I have an assistant to teach the little ones, and she is free to budget her time however she wishes, so please take what I am saying with a big fat grain of salt :lol:

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 11, 2010, 12:31 PM
She needs to get to her lesson with enough time alloted for tack check before her lesson time starts.
I used to teach 3yrs and up, never was any rider 100% responsible for their own tack safety and no one mounted til i checked over their work. That said no one over the age of 10 that had been riding more than 3 months got help from me tacking their horse ;)
If someone wasn't ready to mount by the time their lesson started, well, their lesson started without them!

SmileItLooksGoodOnYou
Jan. 11, 2010, 12:45 PM
I don't teach little ones. (Maybe someday, but I'd like to stay Ammy for now.)

But at my barn they get one hour... half spent in the barn with the instructor walking them through catching, grooming, tacking up, and adjustments. That way they all learn the right way, without biting into riding time or expecting parents to know what to do. These private lessons go on until the child's riding level is such that they can (if they want) enter a group.

At that point the child should know enough to tack up on their own if they're old and big enough, and the parent should have learned the process if they're not.

They all get half an hour to 40 minutes in the saddle, and the cost isn't radically different from that of a group lesson, if at all.

Rescue_Rider9
Jan. 11, 2010, 12:49 PM
Not to Hijack this thread, but I am teaching an 11 yr old. She has propbably had about 20 or so rides under her belt, but still cant tack up the horse. I do help her, but it cuts into her hour of riding. I have tried to make it a point that she needs to get stronger so she can tack up her own horse when her parents buy her one. She is riding a 14 hand pony and she is about 5' tall, so she should be able to, but she wont put the effort into gaining the strength to tack up the pony. What should I do. I feel bad that tacking up cuts into her lesson, but I dont feel I should have to come out early to help her tack up and then give her an hour lesson.

skrgirl
Jan. 11, 2010, 12:52 PM
You would be amazed what a six year old can actually do if you dont help them. My mom teaches TONS of little kids, and they are all expected to tack up. Ponies are out when the kids show up. Kid is required to groom pony including picking feet. Then they get their tack out (parent is allowed to help carry saddle but dont usually need to) and tack up. There is a step stool that the kids can use to reach the top of the pony. Kid always has a helper to make sure they dont fall off the step stool. They are not allowed to bridle though. Girth is checked before kid gets on by my mom or helper. Lessons are an hour long which includes tack up time.

Mac123
Jan. 11, 2010, 01:18 PM
I began riding at 6 years old and I was responsible for grooming all areas I could reach, putting on galloping boots, and retrieving saddle pad and bridle. I would ask for help for putting on the saddle and bridle and assisted with girthing up and doing the buckles of the bridle.

I think it is important to teach from the very beginning that the rider is responsible for her horse, every ride. If I were teaching her, I would include in the hour (or preclude the half hour) with a grooming and tacking time. It is my opinion that youngsters are capable of far more than adults usually give them credit for, and there is no reason they cannot participate in grooming and tacking under supervision.

It takes time, but allowing a 6 year old to groom, put the martingale through the girth, toss the saddle pad on if they can reach, do the buckles of the bridle, buckle the girth loosely (if they can reach) etc. is very important to their education and development of a responsible mindset. For the things they require assistance with, I say "I'm going to tighten this girth since you're not strong enough yet, but soon this will be your responsibility."

I would never relieve a rider of this responsibility because they do these things at home - to me, this is irrelevant as the rider is riding MY lesson horses and is expected to care for them like any other...BUT, the expectations must suit the age/strength/size of the rider and be realistic. I also would not offer a beginner lesson for under 45 minutes for those reasons.

As a parent, I would want my child to be involved in all aspects of the care (tailored to their level) for the aforementioned reason that it breeds responsibility, but I would want it included in a lesson time with 20-30 minutes spent on the horse.

JMO

LeeB10
Jan. 11, 2010, 02:14 PM
I guess I should mention that the pony is already groomed/tacked and ready for her to lead out when she gets there.

My daughter started riding at 7. She was responsible for going and getting the pony from the field, grooming it - including feet, and tacking up. She used a mounting block when she could not reach things. The trainer would help when she needed it but she was supposed to learn to do it wholey by herself. She even groomed her own pony when she showed. Her lessons were one hour long not including tack time and she started with two lessons per week and moved to three. I'm not even sure if I would have been okay with her getting there and the pony being already tacked up.

LeeB10
Jan. 11, 2010, 02:18 PM
I should add that my daughter had a size 13 saddle and that saddle didn't weigh much at all so with a mounting block she had no problem putting it on the pony.

betsyk
Jan. 11, 2010, 02:29 PM
I haven't read the entire thread, so hopefully I"m not being redundant. I suspect the instructor was evaluating your daughter while she was watching her spend 10 minutes adjusting her tack -- determining what she already knows, how she takes direction, her fine motor skills, her frustration level, how well she remembers sequences, how she problem solves. Those are the things I look for during the first few lessons with any new student, so I can tailor my instruction to the kid who's standing in front of me, rather than some preconceived notion I may have about what a six- or ten-year-old should be able to do. She may also have felt a little on the spot, knowing that this was the daughter of a fellow instructor, and wanted you to notice that she was making sure your daughter learns to do things correctly, and independently, right from the start. Yours will be a child who will have a lot more opportunities than a child who only gets to ride once a week, so I can see her having somewhat higher expectations. Whether it's developmentally appropriate for a 6-year-old to learn all that stuff in the first 10 minutes of her first lesson... I personally wouldn't do it that way, but if I were you I'd wait a couple weeks and see how it all shakes out.

For the poster at the top of this page with the 11-y-o who still needs help/takes time grooming and tacking -- watch and see what specifically she's having trouble with. Is it getting all the steps in the right order? being too particular? or disorganized? or distracted? you mention strength -- much of strength isn't really strength, it's body mechanics and "physics" and even, to some extent, using body language to get the horse to cooperate. With a kid that age, I'd wonder if she needed more supervision and maybe still some direct instruction on how to do the jobs most effeciently in the allotted time. I consider grooming and tacking and putting the horse away to be part of the lesson, because it's all learning time and I don't allow kids to handle my horses unsupervised until they are VERY capable. My lesson kids do a 90 minute private which ideally includes 30 minutes grooming and tacking (and informal horse management conversation), 45 minutes of riding and 15 minutes to put the horse away. That works well for most kids and they catch on pretty fast that the quicker they get their horse ready, the longer they will ride.

Portergirl
Jan. 11, 2010, 02:36 PM
I teach many little ones. I have a very hands on riding program. The six year olds that I have tack up with assistance from myself or the moms (who also ride). I have found that this helps them be more self sufficiant in the ring as well.
The pony that I have is 13hh. He is a saint! I see no reason why these kids can not tack with supervision. I do check there tack before they get on.

trinityhill
Jan. 11, 2010, 04:16 PM
Vandy,
Yes I could whip through grooming and tacking the horses in 10 minutes, I have found that ends up going right over their head. Unless they have their little hands in there "helping" with each bit, a lot less gets retained. And for my students who are able to tack up on their own, they get to have their fair share through racking my brain on more advanced horsemanship subjects before or after the lesson, watching and having me explain to them as I am schooling a horse what I am doing and why, and frequently have their riding time extended a great deal if it fits with what we are working on. I have a small program so I am lucky enough to be able to give my students a great deal of one-on-one attention, through which I am rewarded with a great group of students on their way to being true horsemen, which to me are far more rewarding to teach than those who are just there to ride. If I have the time that day, it is theirs. If I get to the point where I can no longer do that due to the number of students, than I will be bringing in a qualified assistant to help with the ground portion so I do not interfere with their education. Ventured a little off topic, but I just wanted to further explain what it is I do, so it makes a little more sense... =)

hellerkm
Jan. 11, 2010, 05:03 PM
You would be amazed what a six year old can actually do if you dont help them. My mom teaches TONS of little kids, and they are all expected to tack up. Ponies are out when the kids show up. Kid is required to groom pony including picking feet. Then they get their tack out (parent is allowed to help carry saddle but dont usually need to) and tack up. There is a step stool that the kids can use to reach the top of the pony. Kid always has a helper to make sure they dont fall off the step stool. They are not allowed to bridle though. Girth is checked before kid gets on by my mom or helper. Lessons are an hour long which includes tack up time.

that is all well and good and if that is what is required then the kid should be riding a pony small enough for her to accomplish this if not the kid should not be responsible for taking up a pony that she cannot reach the top of. Plus most 6 yr olds are NOT strong enough to properly tighten a girth they just can't physically do it. And stools plus small kids around ponies on the cross ties can be dangerous one slip and the kid is under the scared pony, its one thing as an adult if you are pulling manes or braiding you are responsible for yourself but I don't' allow my daughter to try to carry a saddle and climb onto a stool, too much room for error if you ask me, and trust me I am NOT a super super safety freak but there are limits for smaller kids.

creseida
Jan. 11, 2010, 06:53 PM
that is all well and good and if that is what is required then the kid should be riding a pony small enough for her to accomplish this if not the kid should not be responsible for taking up a pony that she cannot reach the top of. I think this is pretty ridiculous as many smaller kids wind up on ponies taller than they are.


Plus most 6 yr olds are NOT strong enough to properly tighten a girth they just can't physically do it. That doesn't mean they can't give it their best shot and try. Mine know the drill. They make the girth as tight as they can (and I can definitely tell the difference between a real effort and a slacker). Only after they've don'e their best do I step in and do a quick final tightening.


And stools plus small kids around ponies on the cross ties can be dangerous one slip and the kid is under the scared pony... If the stool or block is safe enough for the student to mount from, it's safe enough to use to tack up.



its one thing as an adult if you are pulling manes or braiding you are responsible for yourself but I don't' allow my daughter to try to carry a saddle and climb onto a stool, too much room for error if you ask me, and trust me I am NOT a super super safety freak but there are limits for smaller kids. Yes, but this particular Mom is objecting to the fact that her daughter has to merely CHECK her tack and adjust if needed. Even though said child allegedly tacks up her own pony at home.

EqTrainer
Jan. 11, 2010, 06:58 PM
Actually Creseida I never said that my daughter tacks up her own pony at home :lol: I know it's become a long thread and I appreciate everyone who took the time to read for comprehension and offer helpful commentary. I have a good idea now what is normal and customary in a barn where the pony is already tacked and waiting (again, getting there early and tacking him is not an option, nor is checking his tack prior to her being in the ring) and I know how to handle discussing it with her new riding instructor. Thanks CoTH!

Tobias
Jan. 11, 2010, 07:00 PM
I Teach a 6 yo. She is tough and would never admit that she can't do something before she tries. I have her "try" to tack up horse, but the horse is about 15hh and she cannot reach. i help her and I make sure that she checks things for safety. She gets 1 hr lessons. but I am mainly teaching about horses, care, grooming etc. the riding I teach is just the basics. so 1/2 hour for riding and 1/2 hour for other training.

80s rider
Jan. 11, 2010, 09:20 PM
It always seems that when people/kids take lessons on schoolies half of the lesson time includes the whole "tacking/untacking" thing. Now that that my daughter has her own pony, she gets much more riding time. She just shows up at the ring at her designated time... the instructor doesn't seem to have any interest in going over the "tacking/untacking" thing. My daughter just turned 7 and is very small for her age. She helps me with the brushing, but I pretty much do all the tacking-1.) because I enjoy doing it 2.) I can do it better & faster and 3.) She has many years to learn to do it herself, I want her to enjoy her pony & have fun at the barn.

WendellsGirl
Jan. 12, 2010, 08:30 AM
I teach lots of 5s and 6s. My lesson time is 1 hour, but I include the time needed to groom, tack, and untack within the hour - I am very clear in all my paperwork they will be on pony riding 20-30 minutes and rushing the grooming will not result in more riding time. I tell the kids if you are expecting Pony to carry you around and be a good pony, they deserve a nice grooming beforehand. I want to know my ponies are well-cared for and I want the rider to appreciate the pony is doing work for them, so fair is fair. I think that's part of developing a little horseman, not just a little rider. My daughter is 8 and been riding since she was 4. She lessons at an outside barn where the lesson is an hour - quick groom time comes out of your ride time usually. She is more adept at riding for the longer time and its clear this is more of a professional, competitive barn where the focus is showing. Just different strokes.

A few things stuck out to me in this thread - I do require them to groom their pony and help tack up. No little child is carrying my saddles and attempting to heist them on pony - I learned the hard way many years ago when a diligent but short student dropped my saddle! My saintly lesson ponies are also not going to suffer the attempts of a little rider trying to bridle. That's what I'm there for. I have a rule that once they can reach the top of the ponies' ears, I will start teaching them to bridle themselves.

Good lesson ponies who enjoy their job are hard to find. I take them in whatever size. Unfortunately, most tiny riders are going to be on mounts they can't reach the top of. Its just the nature of teaching - those dutiful, trusted beginner mounts need to do more than teach the couple tiny tots a week. They must work for the beginner 10 y.o. or even the timid starting-out petite adult.

I guess the point is to find a lesson barn / insrtuctor that focuses on the things that are important to you and has the same philosophy on riding as you do. 'Cause we're all as different as you are!

TheHunterKid90
Jan. 12, 2010, 09:32 AM
I think your DD is doing the perfect amount for her age.

At the farm that I teach I do strictly private lessons...they run one hour and within that time I make myself completely available to my student for tack up, lesson, and untack...Typically we do, 15 min. tackup, 30 min lesson, 15 min untack. If students are late, then their lesson time is deducted...not grooming time.
beginners are expected to be on time to their lesson, come with me to fetch their horse, groom with me, pick feet with assistance, and assist me in tacking up the pony.
more advanced riders are encourages to come early if they would like so if they are tacked up before the actual start time of their lesson, they could have a 45 min lesson instead of a 30 minute one.
Finally, students that have their own horse can recieve 1 hour private lessons if they are capable of tacking up by themselves...

Speaking specifically on the 6y/o I teach....she can fetch her own pony, take blankets off, groom, pick feet, put the saddle on and girth with a little assistance, and bridle her pony, provided that pony's feeling cooperative. ;) I still tighten her girth, and adjust stirrups but she is expected to see if there's anything "wrong" and do a quick check of everything before she gets on. (This girl lessons twice a week, english, and western, is competantat w/j/t/l/c...and is trotting 2' fences and cantering away from them with her large pony.)

If the riding lesson is 30 min long then maybe you should cheerfully remark that you will be there early next week so DD can groom, and tack up and not wasting her precious saddle time. :yes:

2WBs1TB
Jan. 12, 2010, 11:09 AM
I think I will see how her next lesson begins and if the same scenario begins to repeat I will talk to her instructor about what I expect. I have told her briefly that LMEqT has her own pony, rides at home regularly and what level of involvement she has and is capable of. I am sure she may be overwhelmed with a new situation or maybe she doesn't realize that it would be a good idea to listen carefully to what moms tell you, I guess we will find out soon enough

And if she's like most instructors out there, she doesn't listen to what "moms" tell you for a reason; they exaggerate what their little one can do. I've had moms tell me their daughter was w/t/c/j. Daughter had decent position at walk, so let's pick up the trot. Pony picks up trot and daughter clings to reins, flops all over the place and pony trots faster. I intercept pony on the rail. Daughter proceeds to tell me, "Maybe I should have told you I've only trotted once before with someone leading the pony." That would have been a great idea....

That's just the first of many examples I've encountered. After that, I ignore what Mom says and evaluate student from ground zero on my own, to include tacking up. If a parent is going to armchair quarterback me, I don't want them as a client. Teach your daughter yourself.

P.S. Your daughter should be helping to tack up her pony at her age. If she's not "capable", then that would be a "mom" issue.

Aliascml
Jan. 12, 2010, 11:52 AM
At the barn, where I ride, it is expected for everyone to show up at least 20-30 min before their lessson, so they have time to groom and tack up their horse. If they take longer to groom or tack up or show up late-the time does come out of their riding time.

For young children, the horse or pony is already inside the barn and they are assisted, if needed, with brushing areas that they can't reach and if they have trouble with the tack. They are expected to try their best. If the

Lkramer
Jan. 12, 2010, 12:00 PM
Personally, I do not think it is the trainer's job to tack the horse. Most trainers have a busy schedule. I think it would be fair to pay an additional $10 to have the horse tacked up, however time spent tacking your child's pony up is time that she is not in the ring teaching. If I am teaching a lesson at 4:30 and that child is in the ring at 4:45, they are getting a 15 minute lesson because I have another lesson at 5:00 and another at 5:30 and I will not make them wait or punish them for being on time. Like-wise, if I have to tack up the horse and spend 10-15 minutes doing so, you bet it counts as lesson time!

If I did have a child that was not able to tack the horse, or they didn't have a parent to help them, I would tell them it isn't working out because don't think it's fair to give some kids 45 minutes when they are paying for 30 without doing the same for everyone.

I hope that helps from a busy trainer's perspective.

EqTrainer
Jan. 12, 2010, 06:12 PM
The trainer doesn't tack the horses.. the groom does...

thanks again everyone! So interesting to hear how everyone does things, particularly 2WBs1TB, wow, I sure hope you have really great liability insurance!

gallupgirl
Jan. 13, 2010, 09:35 AM
If I showed up early it would make no difference. This was something done in the ring *after* her lesson time had begun.
:

I worked at a place like that once. They had it in their minds they were renting the lesson horses for a specified period of time. The horses were to be led into the arena when the lesson started. The kids were to be dismounted and leading the horse out of the arena when the lesson ended.

Maybe there are politics beyond the instructors' control?

I now do lessons at my place on my horses. The 'riding' lesson starts and ends at the scheduled time. Students are expected to check their own tack, adjust their own stirrups and the older ones are expected to catch, groom and tack their own horses. Of course with the little ones I recheck their girth and the stirrups. They are to be on the horse and walking for warm up when the lesson begins. After the lesson students are expected to properly cool their horse down and if it isn't being used in another lesson they are to untack, brush and put it and all their equipment away.

TheBrownHorse
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:40 AM
I have never expected a six year old to check her own tack. That's the responsibility of the trainer, IMHO.

I have my kids groom and tack up with supervision and help. We teach them everything, how to halter, lead, groom (they seem to LOVE picking out their hoofs haha) and tack up, however, a lot of the "ponies" are too big for them to saddle and bridle, so I'll help them out with getting the girth tightened and getting the saddle on the pony's back (there's only so much a kid can do!) and slipping the bridle on (however, eventually after some instruction I encourage the kids to explore the bridle pieces and learn how to buckle them correctly)

2WBs1TB
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:43 PM
My insurance is irrelevent, although I do of course carry it. My kids are all very happy and safely capable of doing what I request of them. They are expected to do their best first, as do their parents. They are supervised at all times, and assistance is given when needed. Your little Pookie's instructor is not asking her do to anything she isn't capable of.

If you wish to continue to pamper your princess, that is your affair. There is no reason she cannot do what her instructor is asking her to do. None. Except the Mommy interference factor, of course.

Good luck findi... errr...retaining an instructor for your little precious with your attitude. :)

Starting-Point-Stables
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:46 PM
I have been teaching kids for 19 years now. One of my own children became quite a good all around horseman until he found cars and girls. :)

Can I ask the OP a question? Is the time spent riding VS time spent groom relative to the price you are paying for the lessons?

When I first started teaching lessons I only did private lessons. I quickly learned a full hour was too much for kids under the age of 8 so I cut my youth lessons back to 45 minutes which included tacking/grooming, and ground handling. I also cut the price back as well.

In the very beginning of course the time was maybe 20 minutes riding and 25 minutes with tack/grooming. I would groom one side of the horse, while the child groomed the other side, and we'd both tack the horse.

If I was clever and scheduling worked well, I'd also do what someone else did, had my young students back to back and student 1 would groom, tack and warm up the horse. Student 2 would cool down, untack and groom the horse.

But I always had the kids groom and tack, not only so they learn the skill and responsibility of it all, but so they'd get to know my school horses. I'll add value to that time by talking about the last lesson, which also helps me tune in to how that child is feeling on that particular day. :)

BUT - I am not a 'horse show' trainer AND 90% of my students do not have their own horse. And maybe that's a difference?

After so many years I really came to terms with the fact that most kids under 8 can not maintain their attention to ride beyond 30 minutes. As much as I did exercises, games etc I found I'd loose some students to physical fatigue (after school, but before dinner was really hard) or to mental 'zone out' (they'd start talking to me about school etc) with in 20 minutes of riding.

I actually changed my lesson format for kids from 4-6, and have a 'lead line' program where they participate in grooming, assisted tacking, and have a very short ride - and the price reflects this. When I see that their basic skill set and over all endurance has reach a certain level, then I'll put them in the 'next level' program. :) HOWEVER, my pricing reflects this too. I like giving the kids a chance to enjoy at their own pace.

I have one observation in this thread that is prompting me to 'ask' a question - many people say a 6 year old is too young (lacking in size, strength etc) to go through the grooming process and tacking process with help, yet 'able' enough to guide a 400+ pound animal.

So do most of you who teach the younger set (under 8) teach mostly on the lead or lunge line?

I have witnessed that if a youth can physically and mentally ride off the lead/lunge line then they should be able to go through the 'motions' of grooming and tacking with the support of an adult.

Thomas_1
Jan. 14, 2010, 07:24 AM
I'd say that if you're not happy with what your child is getting you have a choice. You either go elsewhere or else you ask if you can get what you want.

However I do think that you ought to carefully consider what you're doing and the impression you might be giving your daughter.

Trust me teaching children is VERY VERY different from training adults.

I teach little one and starting younger than that. I'm one of the only centres in the area where I operate to have kept my public liability insurance on for tiny tots.

All children who come here are expected to be interested and engaged and to understand that ponies don't come ready made to sit on. I want them to have fun AND to understand that a pony is something to be looked after and which takes time and attention and nurturing. I want them to get into good habits and routines early on but in a safe and learning environment.

I also like children to develop confidence and general handling and understanding how to behave on the ground around them from the get go. Finally it also helps me and my staff to build a relationship with the child and to check their understanding and how assured they are.

Makes no difference whether they're 3 or 63, tacking up is part of the lesson.

Now in my case 1/2 hour lessons are for under 5's and that ordinarily includes the 'grooming' and tacking up and mounting.

Over that age is an hour generally unless we decide that the child is not physically fit enough to have an hour. Though again includes grooming & tacking up.

What actually happens with the little ones is that the pony is of course really groomed and has it's feet picked out by us but the child has a "token gesture of brushing the really important bits" and we explain that's where the saddle, girth, bridle (all tack) touches the horse. We also say there's just the last foot to be finally checked and we pick up the foot and allow the child to use a hoof pick around the hoof to find any dirt. We then let the child tack up though in truth we're doing it and they're "helping"

Got to say that many of the posts here sound like the prime concern is "value for money" and an obsession that you're not getting what you pay for. The idea that you shouldn't pay for time spent tacking up is absurd. Demonstrates to me that there's a commercial naivity about the business model or else a lack of understanding that staff have to be paid for when they supervise a child tacking up OR riding.

From time to time I have parents that say they don't want their child to do anything else other than ride and I explain why I do what I do but ultimately if they're not persuaded I say "go elsewhere, I don't do that" I've only ever had 2 parents insist that that it's not what they want. I've never had anyone really complain about the time thing though once they're regulars because they well know that I'm not a stickler for time and if a lesson is going well and there's no one immediately following I do allow lessons to run on.

I personally don't have situations whereby parents hanging around advising me or my staff how to do riding lessons. For sure as a parent I think you SERIOUSLY need to think about what message your giving your daughter disagreeing with what her instructor is telling her to try. I don't think you're doing her or yourself any favours.

EqTrainer
Jan. 14, 2010, 08:44 AM
My insurance is irrelevent, although I do of course carry it. My kids are all very happy and safely capable of doing what I request of them. They are expected to do their best first, as do their parents. They are supervised at all times, and assistance is given when needed. Your little Pookie's instructor is not asking her do to anything she isn't capable of.

If you wish to continue to pamper your princess, that is your affair. There is no reason she cannot do what her instructor is asking her to do. None. Except the Mommy interference factor, of course.

Good luck findi... errr...retaining an instructor for your little precious with your attitude. :)

Actually.. being a *professional* trainer, I know that your stated fact that you ignore whatever the mom tells you is going to nail you someday. In the meantime, well, Bless Your Heart!

EqTrainer
Jan. 14, 2010, 08:59 AM
More interesting comments..

yes, the fact that my daughter rides at home 3 or 4 times a week and handles her pony without help, assists in grooming and tacking up, then rides in the fields for 30 - 45 minutes, cools her pony out and then helps untack/groom and then turns back out by herself - she also is responsible for her po's water and helps clean her paddock and stall - puts a twist on the entire thing.

I would like her lesson time to be spent learning things she is not learning at home. There is no doubt that her situation is different than most kids who come for a once a week lesson. FWIW, I have always declined to teach her (other than the reminders to keep her heels down and her eyes up!) because I don't teach young children (I believe it requires its own skill set in addition to the normal set) and I also don't want to have that relationship with her.

This thread has been great and has helped me define what our needs from her lesson program are. Thank you all again!

S1969
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:03 AM
I'm sure I'll get flamed for this but personally I think the whole "it's your responsibility to tack up" attitude for younger kids is over the top. They will learn how to do it eventually if they are helped along. But to expect that they will be able to do it right and be responsible for remembering everything at ages 6, 7, 8....or even older, depending on the kid...is just unreasonable. They are kids, and by definition, not as responsible as adults.

My kids' trainer checks the tack for the younger ones when they get on. She checks/retightens the girth for them because ultimately, it IS her responsibility if they forget or make a mistake.

If there is a parent to help, that's great but even I still presume the trainer will recheck the tack/girth when my 8 year old mounts. If there is no parent to help, there is usually another student to help. But when the kids enter the ring, the trainer gives their ponies a look over, checks the girth, and makes sure they are safe to ride. This does not [and should not] cut into their riding time.

I've responded to posts about this type of issue in the past; as a lesson student I can appreciate the "horsemanship" lessons of catching horses from a field, grooming them [aka chipping off the mud], in addition to tacking up but when I pay for a lesson I don't want/need to do all of that, nor should it cut into my riding time. I don't want to have to arrive 90 minutes early for a 40 minute lesson to pull a filthy horse out of a field and get it ready to be ridden, nor do I want my kids trying to separate horses from a herd as part of their "riding lesson."

Our barn runs summer camps and in them they really go over tack, tack safety, cleaning tack, horse care, turning out and catching horses safely etc. etc. in addition to riding. This is the perfect place for the serious kids to get extra practice at all of these things.

EqTrainer
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:11 AM
Our barn runs summer camps and in them they really go over tack, tack safety, cleaning tack, horse care, turning out and catching horses safely etc. etc. in addition to riding. This is the perfect place for the serious kids to get extra practice at all of these things.

My daughter did this for a week last year and it was fantastic :)

grayarabpony
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:23 AM
My insurance is irrelevent, although I do of course carry it. My kids are all very happy and safely capable of doing what I request of them. They are expected to do their best first, as do their parents. They are supervised at all times, and assistance is given when needed. Your little Pookie's instructor is not asking her do to anything she isn't capable of.

If you wish to continue to pamper your princess, that is your affair. There is no reason she cannot do what her instructor is asking her to do. None. Except the Mommy interference factor, of course.

Good luck findi... errr...retaining an instructor for your little precious with your attitude. :)

Sure, there are parents who interfere and are overprotective, but seriously, you sound like a spoiled princess yourself. Besides which, how do you know what the instructor is going to do, unless that's you?

Expecting a 6-year-old to to the final adjustments on tack doesn't make sense. To stress *checking* a girth before getting on is crucial, but I wouldn't expect a kid that size to be able to tighten it properly.

Considering that Eqtrainer lives on a horse farm, I'm pretty sure that her daughter knows that horses don't tack themselves up. :) If the pony is Eqtrainer's daughter's pony, it's appropriate for the instructor to go over the tack for a quick safety check before going on with riding. If not it makes sense for tacking up to be part of the lesson time.

FlashGordon
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:30 AM
Hmm been reading.... but have been sitting on my hands!

First, knowing you and having met LMEqT I don't think there is any danger of her turning into a spoiled princess!

Second, the fact that you are seeking out lessons for her, with a professional other than yourself, is smart-- I've seen too many pros try to train their own kids and it only ends up being a disaster. IME *those* are the kids who have a complex, cause Mom runs the barn and they think they have free rein...

Lastly, when I worked at summer camp during college, I often had the little ones (aged 6-8). If you let them groom and tack up on their own, or even with some help, they'd never get any riding time. Not to mention they were not big enough, strong enough, or adept enough to do buckles, get girths tight, adjust stirrups, etc.

I remember we had one mom who would show up every day for lesson time and she INSISTED her tiny 6 year old groom and tack up on her own. The poor kid would end up so frustrated and frazzled by the time she was actually IN the saddle, that she could barely get through the ride.

And just from a safety stand point, I'd expect the instructor to do the once-over before riding, if the child HAS tacked up on their own....

Frankly I think it is reasonable to discuss your concerns with the instructor. Seeing as LMEqT has horsey responsibilities at home, it is less necessary for her lessons focus on horse care/horsemanship and more on actual riding instruction. I don't think that is an unrealistic expectation or request. And if the instructor is not receptive, then she's not the right instructor....

Starting-Point-Stables
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:39 AM
Yeah having kids be responsible - shoot even having beginner adults '100% responsible' for things like going out into a field to get a horse, tacking up in early lessons is not very RESPONSIBLE on the part of the instructor.

In Pony Club I believe right up into D3 they can 'have assistance' if necessary, they promote a buddy system, AND there is always the safety check before mounting up. However they are required to start DOING this stuff (grooming, leading, haltering, naming 10 parts of the pony/ the tack) And D3 for a younger beginner child could be the first 2+ years.

I 'want' my beginners (kids and adults) to do it themselves but I am right there to adjust saddle placement, to help with stiff buckles, to help with the really dirty horse and that kind of thing. :)

My 8 year old pony school kids can get the ponies completely tacked up with my floating assistance by their 3rd six week block, including tail cruppers. :) Now, doesn't mean I don't help or make adjustments - but they know the saddle pad goes over the withers & scapula, they know where the ribs end on the horses back - they eat it up!!! :)

I will say that when I took my own son for lessons else where I contacted a trainer, explained our situation (my son was 9 or 10, had been riding 3-4 times a week for a few years, that I taught riding and we regularly worked on the lunge line at home, and he rode a few different horses) - so when we went to the trainers farm with our own pony & tack we had already had a plan in mind. But there again, we showed up with our own pony/tack and just knew he had to be in the arena at X time for his ride.

Of course I told the instructor what ever he saw that needed working on to have at it and I stayed out side of the arena and just soaked it in. :)

But everyone has their own goals. I'd say 90% of my non-horse owning kidlet students do not have showing ambitions and their parents really do not know much about horses. They just want their kids to learn to be responsible (ie that the horse requires care), have good sportsmanship, and be safe.

The other 10% of my students who (either adult or children) have their own horses at home and/or participate in 4H or Pony Club - I don't have demanding grooming expectations (horse clean as a whistle in the dead of winter) when I know they get adequate practice outside of our lessons.

BUT I still teach a lot of ground handling (working the horse through obstacle courses to build up real life problem shooting skills). I find a lot of people who come to me with their own horses (kids or adults) are really lacking in this area - and I believe ground work is the building block for good riding work and thus a valuable part of lessons here at my farm.

I keep a 10 hand pony so my students who have left the lead line program start doing all this ground work right from the beginning. :) Even if it is just a small obstacle/challenge course set up in our barn aisle way or round pen. And the kids honestly LOVE this. But again, you (the OP) could be doing this at home on your own. :)

2WBs1TB
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:51 AM
Expecting a 6-year-old to to the final adjustments on tack doesn't make sense. To stress *checking* a girth before getting on is crucial, but I wouldn't expect a kid that size to be able to tighten it properly.

I don't see where anyone is saying the child should be able to make it as tight as needed. I DO see where most everyone is saying she should go through the motions and do as much as they can, with a final check by an adult.

I want my students in the habit of checking their tack before mounting. Even a 6 year old can tell me her girth isn't tight enough. She may not be able to get it as tight as it needs to be, but she still makes it as tight as she can and more often than not they get them pretty darn tight. I do the final tightening, just to be sure.

No one gets a "free pass" on doing something because they have their own pony. Just because they have one still doesn't mean they're learning correct horsemanship. I've had more than one kid walk completely under a horse "because they do that at home all the time". I give Mom the, "You have GOT to be kidding me" look, and I get the nervous "oopsie" giggle that is the confession that, yeah, they let their kid walk completely underneath the horse to the other side. So, excuse me if I don't take anything for granted when it comes to a kid's safety OR knowledge.

fivehorses
Jan. 14, 2010, 09:59 AM
I have not read this whole thread, but will try and respond to the OP's original post.

In my experience, if my hour lesson is at 2:00, then I should expect to get their early enough to tack up my horse. So that I am mounted and ready to go at 2.
I also expect to ride till 3, if its an hour lesson, then go untack, cool off the horse, etc

I find today, too many people go, get on, get off and leave the rest to the 'help'. If you are a pro, sure, fine, but the basic amongst us need to learn tacking up, horse care, which includes cooling down...otherwise, how else would someone know the importance of cooling a horse down?

As far as your particular situation, its kind of late now, BUT, could you talk to the instructor, BM, BO whoever to request your goals?

In other words, what time does the mounted time begin, so we can get there early enough to brush and tack up? BTW, no, I don't think a kid or any newbie should be allowed to tack up on their own, I think someone should be there to ensure they do it correctly. I think that is plain wrong. I would not want someone I didn't know girthing my horse! Once, everyone gets to know everyone, then the barn can relax a bit and let a student get the horse prepped.

I think to be fair, unless special needs, there should be a set time for mounting and all the before and after is done outside the mounted time, but a part of the students' responsibility. Its all part of the lesson, but no, I think there should be a reasonable expectation to be mounted at a specific time.

So, if lesson is from 4- 4:30, then get there at 3:30 to catch horse, brush, and tack up. Then be on the horse from 4-4:30. Then untack, brush, cool horse down, and turn out or in stall. Now, I know in many places there is help to do everything, but personally I think so much is lost in learning horse management, but whatever.

Does this make sense?

JumpWithPanache
Jan. 14, 2010, 10:03 AM
So I've been watching and reading the thread as it developed. Has LMEqT had another lesson yet?

I understand there are several background things that are non-negotiable. The highest priority being that LMEqT gets 30 minutes of ride time. Pony is tacked up and ready to go when you get there. Hopefully that first lesson was the instructor's attempt to make sure what you said she knows is really what she knows. Not trying to be catty, but I'm sure everyone (myself included) over states the abilities of themselves or their loved ones at some point. Considering how much prior teaching you have given LMEqT I'm sure the review with her instructor proves that she is attentive to the tack and safety routine. If you otherwise like the training this instructor gives but she still requires LMEqT to go through a pre-ride checklist, may I suggest a potential solution? Ask the instructor exactly what she expects her students to check and adjust when they get into the ring. These would be great "homework" exercises to be practiced at home so she can get more effective (aka quicker) at going through the checklist. If pony is outside the ring when she gets handed over perhaps you can help speed things up by adjusting the stirrups ahead of time, then running them back up. If this is outside the realm of possibility ask for a compromise in the ring. Perhaps LMEqT can guesstimate how many holes the stirrups need to be changed and instructor can then make the adjustment, this is how I handled it with kids who were too short or weren't strong enough to pull that buckle down. I would also ask that if pony is not being used in a next back-to-back lesson can LMEqT take an extra five minutes to cool down the pony. If I had a student running late to a lesson, but I had a student immediately at the next slot and was NOT using the horse again I would let the late student take a few extra rounds of the ring while walking. In those cases I would have the student working right up to the end of her lesson.

In regards to the checklist thing, I'm a pilot and checklists are a BIG deal. I'd say that for my first 20 or so flight hours that checklist would take me absolutely forever to get through, like 15 minutes or more in the cockpit with the engine running, which is time you pay for at $100+/hr. Then as I "practiced" it at home by chair-flying I was able to make my pre-flight checklist a lot quicker, getting it down to about half the time. Same applies with my horse. Everything is buckled and adjusted and ready to go before I walk into the ring. However, I go through my mental checklist of throatlatch, noseband, curb chain (if used), ear puffs, off side girth and stirrup, near side girth and stirrup, martingale (if used), and boots/wraps (if used). Even though I know I've done everything I still touch every piece and look at the boots to make sure it's fastened properly. Takes me all of sixty seconds because the hand motions are muscle memory and the glances are routine. A handful of times I have caught something I forgot, usually my ear puffs.

I hope things work out best for you, LMEqT, and her new instructor!

Summit Springs Farm
Jan. 14, 2010, 10:28 AM
To EqT, I think where you got off track was says your DD is a model student, that might come off as she is a princess and you are her Queen mother.

Relax, let the lessons go as the trainer would like them too, you have all the time in the world to add to your DD's training at home. Its all good, she is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have her.

And 2wb1tb be nice, its her DD, Mom's sometimes get alittle crazy when its their kid.