PONY CLUB is an excellent resource.
No princess mentality. PC teaches kids horse management, stable management, riding, training, teaching, grooming and all of the rest! It is a very well rounded curriculum based on sound practices. They teach kids how to handle horses, clean stalls etc on their own. In fact, at “rallies” (PC Horse Shows) parents aren’t even allowed in the barn. The kids are taught how to take care of the horses, and as a team, do all of the physical labor themselves. PC has levels from total beginners on a lead line – to advanced riding. Many Olympians are Pony Club graduates.
PC emphasizes SAFETY FIRST, and putting the horse first – you do not get a drink of water until you offered your horse one, you do not get to take off your hot gear until you untack your horse.
PC teaches team work, studying skill (it seriously improved my school work, I developed better study skills, studying what I loved in PC), and life lessons. I have lifelong friends I met in PC.
Honestly, as far as natural horsemanship goes – it’s a lot of snake oil. A lot of ancient training practices repackaged in a shiny, commercially popular way. Many diciples are new to horses, and do not realize what NH teaches is not new or revolutionary. But can be dangerous in inexperienced hands.
The Pony Club Pledge:
"As a member of the United States Pony Club, I stand for the best in sportsmanship, as well as horsemanship. I shall compete for the enjoyment of the game well played and take winning and losing in stride,remembering that without good manners and good temper, sport loses its cause for being.
I shall endeavor to maintain the best traditions of the ancient and noble skill of horsemanship, always treating my horse with the consideration due a partner.”
OP, in the interim, if you can't find a place that suits you, I would be happy to invite you and your daughter out to visit my horse. She is very good with young riders. It would be a hike for you. (it's a hike for ME!) But I would be happy to have you all come out if she just needs some horse time while you continue to look. Probably an hour drive from you. Same for me. In VA.
Horses may be large powerful animals but they have tiny little brains. They should be taught that humans are higher on the social heirarchy when they are little foals. Most accept this and learn to get along without challenging and as long as they are handled in a fair and firm manner dominance should rarely need to be reinforced. This thread is not big enough to explain all the situations that may arise and the solution to them, but suffice it to say you have to stand your ground and be consistent.
Originally Posted by Arianna
This way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ideu1bU0j5o
Originally Posted by Arianna
This way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gf7w_1ifus
Originally Posted by Arianna
I'm not sure how to more clearly illustrate the false dichotomy that traditional horsemanship = aggressive/fear and "natural" horsemanship = gentle/love.
I agree with everyone who says look for USPC. I was involved in pony club as a kid and I credit it with teaching me a lot of very good things about horses. I still have one of the Pony Club manuals and refer to it from time to time and just gave another one to someone else with a daughter who's getting into horses.
Also, you asked about Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy and as someone who volunteered there for several years (I'm now living in Georgia or I'd still be volunteering there!), I feel fairly confident in talking about it. GG is, I think, a really great rescue and they are definitely welcoming to new people and they do have a lesson program.
That said, since your daughter is so young, you would be expected to be able to supervise her and remain with her while she is on the farm. Also, GG has mostly very large horses and as your daughter is presumably rather small, there will be very little she can do with most of them simply because she won't be able to reach! That said, if you wanted her to take lessons there, it would certainly be worth looking into seeing what they can offer.
Hi OP! Welcome to the wonderful world of horses! You've stumbled on a great resource for all things horse. I just want to commend you for taking the time to do some research in order to find the best program for your daughter. She is a lucky girl, and this industry can certainly benefit from parents who take a hands-on approach to their kids' passion.
That being said - have you considered taking some lessons (riding and general horsemanship) yourself? Educating yourself is a great first step in determining what will be the best program for your girl.
My advice: visit a number of facilities and audit lessons. Watch how the trainer interacts with students and how they handle the lesson environment. There are so many methods to teaching. You know your daughter best - find someone you think will relate to her. Ask questions of the current students and their parents about their experiences with the program. Find out what the student's goals are. The best program will be one where the trainer and other students have similar goals to yours. This will also give you an opportunity to compare how different stables and programs are run. You'll notice some differences (good and bad) right away, even to a novice eye. Messy, chaotic environment = red flag.
I will double/triple/quadruple (whatever we're up to) Pony Club! You say you want your daughter to develop a relationship with horses. Pony Club emphasizes care as much as riding, and there is no better way to develop a relationship with a horse than learning to take care of their basic (and not so basic) needs.
Good luck to you both!
Oh and I just want to add.
I came from a family that knew NOTHING about horses. PC was a life saver, the taught me, and my dad about safe handling etc.
I also made connections through PC that allowed me to become a “full working student” through my teen years. I got to work for the very best trainers in the area, spent all day out at the barn learning – and working off my lessons. PC opened so many doors for me, taught me so much. There is no way I would have had such a long and positive relationship with horses if it were not for Pony Club.
Originally Posted by AllisonWunderlund
Someone on the board summed up how a lot of horsepeople here, including myself, feel about Pat Parrelli:
He is to horse training what Dr. Phil is to legitimate psychiatry.
Nothing "NAtural" About Parelli.
Like others have said seek out a local Pony Club. YOur child will get the very best start with solid horsemanship basics.
<sigh> I get so sick of the constant Parelli bashing on this board. Pat and Linda are quite skilled - at separating soft-hearted people from their hard-earned money :D
Originally Posted by Sannois
OP I'd lean away from being loyal to Parelli at this point. If you want someone to follow and strive toward and think about may I suggest a good friend of my husband's and mine. Watch the Parelli video above and then watch this one and listen to what Jon says. He's thrown in that "Natural Horseman" category but he's more horseman than Parelli will ever be.
where id that ROFLMAO icon when you need it!
Originally Posted by AllisonWunderlund
Sorry, I have seen nothing that screams 'skilled' when I watch them.
Oh, wait, yes, THAT skill, yes, they do have that!
And the lack of scruples selling that 'program'.....
But I am outy.
I hope the OP finds a reputable lesson program for her girl.
Pony club and 4H is a good start, kids her own age of various social economic back grounds....restrictions of parental involvement (at least on show day - nothing like a 'Mom does not work here' :D)
PC and 4H do not exclude other means of learning though. :)
I'm another one who highly recommends Pony Club. I started taking lessons with my mom at 5 and joined Pony Club around the same age that your daughter is and continued through age 17. First it offered a wonderful chance to make a ton of friends with other horse crazy kids. But more importantly, everything I know now about horse care and stable management came from Pony Club. It also offered amazing opportunities for learning in the saddle. We had clinics at least once a month and I got to ride regularly with an Olympian and a future Olympian.
Words cannot express what an invaluable experience being in Pony Club was. I would most certainly not be the horsewoman I am today if it wasn't for my experiences there and on top of it I made some lifelong friends. Please don't eschew traditional training. There are good and bad trainers of course, but there is nothing inherently rough/abusive/unkind/etc about traditional methods. In fact, I have seen FAR more unkind and unfair situations for the horse with so-called natural horsemanship trainers. If I were in your position my first move would be to join a good PC in your area - your daughter doesn't need a horse to join - and then get to know the members and get their recommendations for trainers. I guarantee there will be at least a few highly knowledgeable horse parents in any club you join and they can point you to someone who will help your daughter become a fantastic young horsewoman!
Basically, for what we have seen time and again, those that "do Parelli" are taught to think they are the ones and only horsemen around, everyone else is ignorant and abusive.
PP has the way to the holy grail of horses and will sell you how to get there.
Then, everyone else that knows about the PP system and what it is and is not will tell you not to go there, if you really want to learn about horses.
There are better, more sensible ways to do that.
The way you wrote your posts, they give the impression that you have been already told time and again and convinced that anyone else but PP is not good enough.
Now you are hearing another side of this, maybe a side you had not considered before.
Hope you find what you are looking for, whatever that may be.:yes:
Since you're new to the area, new to horses, and not yet a horse-owning family, I would recommend you check out the lesson and Pony Club program at Waredaca. It's one of the few PC programs in the area that doesn't require members own or lease a horse, making it a great jumping-in point.
I work at a therapeutic riding center and have had several Waredaca students join our volunteer corps. They have been as a rule competent and confident and respectful to horses and humans, with horse care skills appropriate to their experience and age.
Casting my vote with all the others who say Pony Club.
I am sure you have your daughter wear a bicycle helmet when riding her bicycle because you understand how dangerous head injuries can be and how a fall might lead to one.
Pony Club is very safety conscious, and your daughter would be required to wear a riding helmet for similar reasons.
The other program you mentioned is on record as dismissing the importance of helmets.
If I had a 7 yr old daughter and was contemplating putting her in any program with a 500-1300 pound prey animal that might make an unpredictable move...
I would want a program that required appropriate safety gear, as any other sport.
For long term utility in the equestrian world of opportunity, Pony Club is the best bargain going.
Oh - and opportunities abound. My kids travelled very economically:
The club paid 1/3, the Regional District paid 1/3 and we paid 1/3:
Went to Australia, France, Kentucky and many times to other parts of Canada for Quiz, Games, Rallies, all with safe supervision and good fun friends.
Then there are the job opportunities. My daughter was hired sight-unseen
because she was in Pony Club - once in New Zealand travelling and training polo ponies, and once with an Olympic showjumper preparing and warming up international horses at big shows, ie. Spruce Meadows, and at home.
You won't find a more reasonable program - especially from Parelli as his main object is to separate greenhorns from their $$$$ ! :)
I think I am the 100th person to vote for Pony Club.
OP, you are in a hot bed of horse activity, MD/VA/PA/ and a bit of DE and Northern NJ thrown in.
The horse community up there is vast and great; ask questions here, there are tons of CoThers that live up there currently or have lived up there.
I'll also throw in my vote for Pony Club! I am a current member, and I really can't say enough good things about it. I joined late(age 15), and I really wish I had joined sooner! All of my friends who grew up in Pony Club love it and many are still involved(joined around 7 and are currently 17-21). I have made connections across the country, I am friends with Pony Clubbers on both coasts while I live in the middle of the midwest, as well as some international friends.
I was a member of 4-H for several years and I loved it. If you are in a good club it is really fantastic. However, in my experience, 4-H does not have the emphasis on safety and horsemanship that Pony Club does. YMMV depending on clubs around you. 4-H does not have quite the nation-wide standard that Pony Club does.
Best of luck on your horsey future!
I was going to suggest that if you are not able to find a barn that can let her *work* for her lessons, you might want to come up with chores she can do around the house.
I would make a chart with chores and a corresponding value. Then, she can choose the chore and put the value towards lessons.
I also recommend pony club or 4-H.