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  1. #121
    Join Date
    Nov. 27, 2009
    Location
    Gladstone, Oregon
    Posts
    540

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    I think it depends on the child and the horse.

    There are limits though. I reached my limit as a mother a couple years ago when all three of us girls took lessons at a barn in the area. (my two dear daughters and myself.)

    The instructor put my youngest (45 lbs soaking wet, I SWEAR I feed and water her!!! I wish I had her metabolism... *sigh*) on a 16.2 hand TB mare.

    DD#2 rode that mare with confidence and authority. She w/t/c her around the arena, and all I could see were not a fantastic beginner rider, and a cranky old mare that needed groceries (whole nuther story and one of the many reasons why I no longer associate with that facility) and a break, but my youngest offspring careening around the arena on a very large and cranky mare. The mare had no buck in her. Every time she did, it was like a huge canter stride. If my dear offspring had landed on the ground, she would have broke something structural in her little body.

    I asked the instructor if she would put Missa on a smaller, better fed, and happier horse, and she said no. She slapped a bigger bit on that mare, and we rode for another hour.

    We disconnected all of our contacts with these people.

    Missa can ride Luna, but she's in full protective gear and on the lunge line.

    So, I guess it depends on the rider individually and the horse.

    I spose most people would blanch at how young I started. My mom wore me when I was a few days old and was on a horse. Then, at the age of two, I was riding alone on my pony.
    Quote Originally Posted by dizzywriter View Post
    My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.



  2. #122
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2003
    Posts
    1,400

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    Quote Originally Posted by faraway46 View Post
    For what it's worth, I started showing jumper courses (about 2'3") at six. I had my dad lie about my age because at our riding club you could start showing at eight. My horse (yes, horse, not pony) was a gentle giant aged over 20 and I was tiny even for a six year old (my heels barely passed the saddle flap). Pics to prove:
    http://sports.webshots.com/photo/112...49866518YDhgpD
    http://sports.webshots.com/photo/112...49866518qXDWlR
    http://sports.webshots.com/photo/112...49866518VgHzZk
    http://sports.webshots.com/photo/112...49866518ehkYhG

    Now, by this I'm not saying it's ok. I guess my dad should have said no (I could be pretty persistent, though... ) but, in his defense, he had no idea how dangerous it could be (he is pretty much a city guy...).
    I think it's a matter of physical and mental maturity combined with confidence. If you have a kid that is well proportioned and large for his age, not clumsy, not scared of horses and mature enough to understand what they are doing (AND if you have a trustworthy mount), go for it with MAJOR PRECAUTION. A good trainer will know how to read the signs and stop before anything happens or it gets out of hand.

    Putting my flame suit on now. I know those pictures will bring loads of "what was your dad thinking??".
    Are you sure you were 6 in those photos? You look a lot bigger than most 6 year olds I've ever seen! If you said you were 10 I'd believe you.



  3. #123
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2006
    Posts
    113

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    I work in for an organization that provides therapeutic riding. Since early intervention is key for many physical and developmental issues, minimum ages are discussed quite a lot in our industry. The position of our governing body (PATH International) is that riding is contraindicated for all children under age two, and should be limited to hippotherapy (conducted by a PT, OT, or SLP) for those between two and four. These recommendations are based on normal development of typically developing children. I'll grant that all kids mature at different rates, and that many kids have survived riding independently at younger ages. But if I've learned anything from the culture of safety in my industry, it's a serious appreciation for the value of cervical stability. If/when I have children of my own, they won't be doing more than pony rides before age four.

    For your reading pleasure, the relevant portion of the PATH International guidelines, as taken from Section L: Precautions and Indications of the 2012 PATH Intl. Standards for Certification and Accreditation.

    "Children under two years are inappropriate for mounted activities because their structural and neurologic development is inadequate to organize the sensory input from the equine or to accommodate its movement. While the fontanel is still open, this puts the child at risk similar to those with a cranial defect. Infants and young children often do not have adequate head control to wear a helmet, and/or helmet fit may be a problem. There is research to indicate that because of the immaturity of the young spine, repeated stress such as bobbing of the child’s head while on the equine at a walk may lead to micro trauma of the cervical spine. A quick movement of the equine, even a small misstep, carries the risk of a whiplash type effect for the young child with poorly developed head control.

    "The child without developmental delay will not display mature gait patterns with respect to pelvic movement until the age of three. Working with the equine to influence the child’s gait prior to this age may not be appropriate. Sitting astride a large equine for a small child has the potential to stress the hip joints, potentially dislocating at the hip. Because there are many unknown issues, it is strongly recommended that a therapist trained in hippotherapy provide direct treatment to children two to four years of age who participate at Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International Centers. Keep in mind that these age guidelines are based on children without developmental difficulties. Children with developmental delay will have a younger developmental age than their chronological age. Always use caution when determining the readiness of a young child to safely benefit from equine-assisted activities."



  4. #124
    Join Date
    Sep. 16, 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    314

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    Findthedistance,

    Thank you for sharing that! Very interesting and it makes perfect sense.



  5. #125
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 2005
    Location
    Mass.
    Posts
    6,688

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    My DD took pony lessons when she was five, just for the summer. She was (and is) TINY. I had to buy her a 13" saddle because the pony saddles at the barn were too big. By the fall she knew how to post but not her diagonals. We took the winter off and the next year she started riding regularly when she was six and a half. Four is TOO LITTLE. I really don't think a four year old even has the brain development to fully comprehend what he/she's doing on a horse other than "hold on."
    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry



  6. #126
    Join Date
    Mar. 22, 2005
    Location
    Where it is perpetually winter
    Posts
    5,266

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    I don't know, my mom was working on my position when I was 2 or 3..

    https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...315_9225_n.jpg
    (I was enough of a pinhead that there weren't riding helmets small enough for me, hence the Spaceman Spiff helmet )



  7. #127
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2003
    Location
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Posts
    1,635

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxy SM View Post
    Are you sure you were 6 in those photos? You look a lot bigger than most 6 year olds I've ever seen! If you said you were 10 I'd believe you.
    Actually, the date on the back of the photos read 1975 and 1976. Since I was born Feb 1968, I would be about 7 and close to 9. So, no, I'm not six in those shots, rather seven and more.
    Sorry, but I have no photos from the previous year, because they were very local shows and there were no photographers there (maybe I have some photo my Dad might have taken, but I look like a speck in the horizon). The next year I started showing rated, so my dad bought these shots from the photographers there.
    According to my parents, I was very proportionate but not tall or big at all. In fact, I could walk under my horses belly practically without bending over...Still haven't grown much since then...barely reach 5ft...
    Over what hill? Where? When? I don\'t remember any hill....

    www.freewebs.com/caballerizadelviso



  8. #128
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    2,434

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    Quote Originally Posted by canigetanalter View Post
    Well, I'm glad to hear most of you feel this is not ideal. Mom is a trainer, so I thought maybe this was normal for those in the industry to throw their progeny in the ring this early.
    Jumping this early? NO. Heck I don't even let my 16 yr old who can pretty much stick anything jump anything more than a log on a trail. Putting a 4 yr old that gets lots of riding time in the ring on a flat class on a packer? In a heartbeat.
    http://community.webshots.com/album/548368465RfewoU[/url]

    She may not have changed the stars from their courses, but she loved a good man, and she rode good horses….author unknown



  9. #129
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    2,434

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jane Honda View Post
    I think it depends on the child and the horse.

    There are limits though. I reached my limit as a mother a couple years ago when all three of us girls took lessons at a barn in the area. (my two dear daughters and myself.)

    The instructor put my youngest (45 lbs soaking wet, I SWEAR I feed and water her!!! I wish I had her metabolism... *sigh*) on a 16.2 hand TB mare.

    DD#2 rode that mare with confidence and authority. She w/t/c her around the arena, and all I could see were not a fantastic beginner rider, and a cranky old mare that needed groceries (whole nuther story and one of the many reasons why I no longer associate with that facility) and a break, but my youngest offspring careening around the arena on a very large and cranky mare. The mare had no buck in her. Every time she did, it was like a huge canter stride. If my dear offspring had landed on the ground, she would have broke something structural in her little body.

    I asked the instructor if she would put Missa on a smaller, better fed, and happier horse, and she said no. She slapped a bigger bit on that mare, and we rode for another hour.

    We disconnected all of our contacts with these people.

    Missa can ride Luna, but she's in full protective gear and on the lunge line.

    So, I guess it depends on the rider individually and the horse.

    I spose most people would blanch at how young I started. My mom wore me when I was a few days old and was on a horse. Then, at the age of two, I was riding alone on my pony.
    Nope, no blanching here. Daddy rode with me at 6 weeks, I rode pregnant with my oldest (confined to a lunge line!!!) until I was about 2 weeks out from delivery, and pplayed tag with a horse 3 nights before she was born. I, my sisters, and my girls were all riding alone by 2-3 yrs old, depending on the kid. We were seriously supervised and on packers.
    http://community.webshots.com/album/548368465RfewoU[/url]

    She may not have changed the stars from their courses, but she loved a good man, and she rode good horses….author unknown



  10. #130
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2003
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    485

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    This is kind of an old thread and I just stumbled across it but thought I would share my experience. I am a riding instructor and teach all ages. I have done lessons with kids as young as 3, which is more of a pony ride. 4 year olds are a little more aware of their bodies and are more ready to learn to steer and such. I currently have a 4 turning 5 year old who is walkin and trotting competently. Her posting and 2point are great. She has no trouble handling my 17yo push button qh mare or stopping her. Would she be doing as much on a less well broke, less saintly pony, NO. I take little ones and work with them case by case. This kid works well with THIS horse and we have a lot of fun while she learns. She did not click with my 12.3h pony who is also pretty saintly. Just recently my first pony who was in his 30s passed away unexpectedly. He taught many 4 and 5 year olds the ropes of trotting and cantering and even some cross rails. He was a good boy, but no total saint, but he was also 10h and not so far to fall if he did happen to have a pony moment and grab some grass.
    I started "riding" before I could walk. My parents were both horse people and bred trained and showed QHs. They bought my first pony (above 10h pony) before I was born. He was not very tame and had been tied to a cinderblock in someone's back yard. He bonded with me and we were inseperable. Mom and dad threw me up on the broodmare's backs after they had been bred, put me in the saddle in front of them and did slow rides, and eventually I got to ride my pony starting with being led around and gradually progressing to walking and trotting at age 3-4. I dont remember most of this, but I know I was on a horse/pony's back daily and my life revolved around the pony even that young. My parents NEVER pushed me. When my sister was 3 and I was 6 we started taking lessons with a local instructor and both of us were jumping 2' courses with in a year. My sister always had to keep up and with her bravery soon caught up and did everything I did and more. There were falls, but we were taught you get back up and on the pony (we wanted to anyway). I remember being a little jealous that my brave 4yr old sister could jump the 2'plus fences just as well as I could.We barrel raced, did other speed events, jumped, did a little bit of everything. If it involved a horse and especially riding we wanted to do it, and no piddly leadline crap would do for us! We had it a little different than a lot of little ones who take lessons. We did ride daily, sometimes more than one pony once my parents got out of QHs and into breeding ponies. We also had some awesome ponies. Never perfect, usually tricky, but generally good.
    My oppinion is that it should be case by case with a younger rider. If they are really and truly ready to move on let them. In my teaching experience I will probably never have a little one progress the way my sister and I did. That is ok! I dont mind playing with the little ones while teaching them about ballance and rhythm and the basics.



  11. #131
    Join Date
    Oct. 13, 2011
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    1,334

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    I started at 3 years old at an established H/J barn in Virgina Beach. No one would take me, but they told my mother to come down for a "trial" to see how I rode. They put me on a pony and did a "trail". When we were done they said I was a natrual and I was totally ready. I took my first cross-rail at four. I think if you have a good horse and if you actually ARE ready (not velcroed in, like many barrel racing children I have seen) then go for it. I was ready and I was tired of pony rides, so my mom took the next step and it's been awesome ever since. I know a ton of kids who start young and are doing great. I also think it is up to the PARENT as a responsible parent to also make the decision. If the kid can do a course and actually rides OK, even on St. Pony then it is fine. That is just IMHO of course.



  12. #132
    Join Date
    Mar. 20, 2013
    Location
    Way up North
    Posts
    68

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    My BO has a daughter who is 5, and she rides a packer pony. She has started jumping, just little crossrails, all trotting. Highest is maybe 18". She canters, but not over jumps or ground poles. However, she is a big 5 year old, quite tall. She is also very brave and a pretty darned good little rider. Hard to believe she is 5 watching her ride. Doubt she'll be showing in the 2' hunters any time soon, though. At shows she does "speed bump" classes and the w/t.



  13. #133
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2009
    Location
    Location: Indiana, but my heart is in Zone II
    Posts
    2,815

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccoronios View Post
    Pennywell - "My dear daughter got off riding her mini and goes "Look, I'm Mr. Francis" in the blink of an eye and tries to jog off with Dear Mini. Dear Mini says "oh HELL NO" and plows into dear toddler, send her splaying accross the ring. "

    RAY Francis???
    CCoronios- if you see this- yes. =) I had been helping RF in the HB since I was little (I trained with him since I was 8). Now, 33 years later, I still help him during baby season (not this year, I'm in the MidWest). DD is brought to shows by my parents to watch and say hi to Mr. Francis. And he did her in lead line at Devon (my favorite moment as a parent- my teacher/mentor leading my DD in the ring. Priceless).
    Come to the dark side, we have cookies



  14. #134
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,183

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pennywell Bay View Post
    CCoronios- if you see this- yes. =) I had been helping RF in the HB since I was little (I trained with him since I was 8). Now, 33 years later, I still help him during baby season (not this year, I'm in the MidWest). DD is brought to shows by my parents to watch and say hi to Mr. Francis. And he did her in lead line at Devon (my favorite moment as a parent- my teacher/mentor leading my DD in the ring. Priceless).
    We need pics!!



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