My daughter took a break when she was around seven years old and started riding again about three years later. She has not looked back ever since (she is 21).
There are many reasons a child may want to take a break and a little time off often allows those things to resolve on their own. Please respect your daughters feelings. There are many trainers, many ponies to lease but she will never be seven again.
M. O'Conner is IME and IMO, giving you great advice. This is not the time or subject over which to be teaching her responsibility, not at seven. OP, I am not saying you are, but a lot of times horse people get caught up in the tradition of having kids tack and groom for themselves as part of lessons and until a certain age/attention span/strength is met, its just too much for them. Combined with the cold, overwhelming.
I also agree about gear/clothing. Little riders needd little warm clothing, right down to insulated gloves. On truly cold days LMEqT wears her ski gear and rides her pony bareback. She is seven in this pic!
My sister started riding at age 5. She stopped every winter for about four years because she doesn't tolerate the cold. Then she really wanted to lease a pony. Mom explained to her that they could not lease the pony unless she would ride through the winter. (Otherwise, somebody else was going to lease this phenomenal pony!) Now older than when she had started, in suitable clothing (she had not wanted to wear appropriate layers when she was younger, but had gotten better about the sensation of being roly-poly) and with a goal in mind, she toughed it out.
If she is too cold to have fun, this sport costs too much for her nose to freeze off. Maybe you want to ride this winter instead.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
- Harry Dresden
M.O'Connor hits the nail on the head. When my daughter was 16 mos. old I bought her first pony - a medium Welsh x. He was a wonderful deal for what he was. She had a green small junior Connie x waiting in the wings for when she outgrew the medium. (Raise your hand if you said "crazy mother" before now.) Daughter was plopped up on Pig Pen (the medium) and toured around the farm, did lead line classes and was all over the ring while I was teaching my beginners. She LOVED being in the ring & would mimic "eyes up, eyes up." She loved being at the barn and her best friends were Thelma & Louise (pygmy goat pets) and a mutant huge boxer. The child got new barn boots every few months and literally wore the heels off of them as she was outgrowing them. I was ecstatic with my little horsewoman! Life was this way until she was about 5-6 years old and Pig Pen bit her on the shoulder while she was leading him out. It was through her coat but it left a nasty bruise. Sneaky little turd pony but that was it as far as she was concerned.
Daughter still LOVED being in the barn that I had stocked at that point with various suitable mounts, appropriately sized tack, etc. But when the rubber hit the road, homegirl bounced. She was on deck until the riding happened and then she was off on her bike or headed back to the house or the creek. I don't know why (please her insane mother??) but for the next 5 years she would ask for horsie stuff for Xmas & bday and ride 2-3 times then quit, then I would find some lucky little girl & pass along the newest batch of paddock boots, helmet & half chaps (my nieces got one helluva deal out of the carousel of riding apparel). Mind you, aside from encouraging Daughter, she was never pushed to ride, though it eventually got to the point where she was told how much this was costing and she could ride bareback and in shorts with a bicycle helmet if she decided she wanted to ride again...if she stuck with it, THEN we'd start investing in stuff again.
Then last spring/summer something switched on in the kid. At 11 years old she decided she was ready to be a horsewoman. She begged for summer camp at a local farm - they've been doing this for 60 years with beginners doing around the world and flipping off - not the bad kind!! haha - their ponies; riding quadrilles as part of their lessons; hide & seek in the hay barn...they've had BLM riders and a few of their riders compete internationally; they stand a very well known and successful stallion - top of the line show barn but FUN FUN FUN alongside the hard work. Daughter did camp and then started lessons where she would have her rides and then stay to help feed, muck out, scrub, whatever needing doing. She's well equipped with knowledge (and more apparel -haha) now and the BO & trainer will call when they have appropriate work for her and give her the opp to come be a part of the team at home & at shows. she's joined the Jr. NCDCTA club and works her fanny off. She was given a farm shirt for Xmas - something she wears with BIG pride because of all that shirt means to her. It's just been the BEST situation ever. And Daughter is riding Pig Pen and the other hides at home on (gasp!) trails, in the ring, around the pastures. We ride together and have a wonderful time (when she isn't channeling a sassy middle schooler).
Sorry so long winded....ALL that to say, let your baby girl take a break. Kids aren't always great at articulating how they feel about stuff. And if she can/could and her reasons sounded lame, she's 7 and to her they are very legit reasons. Not that you're crazy like I was, but don't be me. Just let things ride (sorry for the pun) for now. The trainer is a big girl/boy and runs a business, s/he can find someone else/another situation for that pony (maybe y'all in the spring!) and there are always ponies for kids. Don't worry too much over this and if your daughter decides she doesn't want to do ponies but something else, YOU GO RIDE! It will make you a happier mom.
I think you need to look at her whole experience at the barn which includes:
1. Making sure she's dressed warmly and comfortable for the weather (if they don't have an indoor, I have to agree, I'd want to quit too in the winter )
2. Making sure she's being successful and is happy and confident in her lesson. Is there some challenge she's facing and scared of that would make her not want to go?
3. Is she comfortable on the pony she's riding? or does she want to try some others? This can be a real issue with kids this age. Often they want to have more than one pony to ride, half the fun (says my dd) is walking into the barn and seeing who you are supposed to ride on the board. Getting locked into a routine of just one pony at this age is tough. Heck my dd is 10 and has her own pony and while she loves her, what gets her really excited is when she has the opportunity to ride something else.
4. Are there other kids her age? This is BIG at that age. My dd started riding at a barn with lots of kids her age and LOVED it. We moved and the barn we went to had no kids her level and it was clearly not as fun for her. The social aspect of riding is BIG and that will be a reason some kids this age don't want to do it. See if she has a friend who may be interested in going with her to the barn and taking a lesson.
If she has all of the above, and she still wants to take a break, no brainer, she's 7 let her take a break. Maybe suggest she do 1x week so she at least stays in some kind of program so she doesn't have to relearn everything. Or one ride every two weeks etc. and see how that goes.
I quit riding myself when it gets cold.. haha. Not nearly as fun.
If your daughter is telling you she wants to stop, let her. If and when she wants to get back into riding, good. Perhaps she might, perhaps she might not.
Are there other children where she rides? Your description of bringing in the pony, tacking up, etc. describes time you are spending with her but I don't notice mention of her socializing with other children while she is at the barn. When I was very young, my mother wanted me to get into riding and my first lessons were at a barn where there weren't many other kids. I really had no interest and never wanted to go. I basically stopped riding for a few years until I switched to another barn where there were tons of kids my age. Suddenly my interest was renewed and I was SO into it. Your daughter is getting to an age where socializing with her peers is a very high priority. Perhaps one of the reasons she could be losing interest (aside from the cold, possible fear, everything else that has already been mentioned) is that she would rather be doing other things that are more enjoyable for her at this point.
I agree that this sport is WAY too expensive to do if she is saying she doesn't want to.
1. Making sure she's dressed warmly and comfortable for the weather (if they don't have an indoor, I have to agree, I'd want to quit too in the winter )
Unless it's heated, even an indoor is pretty darn cold when it's below 25F. No wind, it's true, but still freezing! And if the rider isn't working "hard", they will have a hard time staying warm, no matter how good the clothes. Especially fingers and toes, and especially tacking and untacking. That is definitely the worst part in the winter!
I think it depends on the child. My little one is 7 and has ridden six days a week year round since she was 3. She has never asked to stop, but I think that a lot of that is due to the barn we are at, quite a few kids and a few of them have become some of her closest friends. Also my daughter loves her pony, who is hers, not a lesson or a lease pony who she loves taking care of. However, in this weather I am the one who gets the pony in from the field and I am the one who does the majority of the tacking and untacking, she just can't last in the cold. I am also very aware of what she is wearing, we use little heater things on her feet and she is well dressed.
If your daughter wants to take a break then I would probably let her but I would certainly explain to her that if she wants to compete in the spring then she needs to keep riding through the winter, perhaps not every day but a couple of times a week. I have just seen too many mums at our barn who have tried to force the issue of riding in the winter and the child has totally lost interest.
As a mother of two I'd suggest letting her take the time off. My daughter decided to try winter track this year. She ran for six days in a row -- a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 50 minutes -- outside in inclement weather. She hated it. More to the point, she started to hate running, which is something she has always enjoyed. I didn't want this experience to ruin that enjoyment for her.
She wanted to quit but was afraid she would look like a "quitter". I explained to her that there are some things in life she would have to do, even if she didn't want to (think study for her finals) but that sports should be fun. I gave her a lot of credit for sticking with it for the first week and talked her into letting it go.
She did quit and is now in a winter training program for crew. It's just as hard (maybe harder) but it's all inside and it's warm and the kids are friendly. She's so much happier with her decision.
Your daughter may really miss riding if she takes a break. I know plenty of adults who don't ride much in the winter because they don't enjoy riding in the cold. She may decide she doesn't like riding enough to continue (both my daughter and son loved riding when they were small but then lost interest). Ultimately, they should be doing something that they enjoy and which gives them pleasure. Personally, I never pushed my kids to ride (although I made plenty of offers) because I want them to "own" whatever they do. Granted, when my son was in high school he (also a rower) thought about quitting the program for awhile but at that age and at that time in his development, I knew it was frustration with his progress. We got him some extra coaching and he continued (he now rows in college). But with a 7 year old? I wouldn't make that push.
Your trainer will understand. Young kids are fickle when it comes to their interests.
Thanks for the input. She loves her trainer, her pony, and there are plenty of other kids at the barn. Also, if she wants to ride another pony she can... Her trainer is always telling her that you become a better rider by riding different ponies! I think the problem is that she's just getting too cold riding for an hour!
I appreciate the input- I was most concerned about verbally committing to leasing the pony and then backing out suddenly. Also, it seemed really sudden to me, my horse crazy kid, for no apparent reason, after a really good lesson, asked to take a break. Nothing unusual happened, nothing scary, and it was not really that much colder than it had been.
So, out of nowhere, this happened. I think I'll have to wait and see.
Lots of advice. I'll share what I did in a similar situation.
When my dd was 6 and 7 we had 2 small ponies. We turned them out for the winter. I didn't want her riding when it wasn't fun at that age. If I had made her I think she would have quit.
When it came time to show more seriously and to move up I explained the level of commitment would include riding in the winter. By then she was enjoying the show experience and was willing to deal with the cold.
i would your dd decide whats fun and what she wants to do since your financial investment is small at this point.
Momto3, I loved the last line of your original post. Hmmm 15 years why don't you try a compromise? Warm up the dd and outfit yourself and take a lesson a week? You can keep your barn time and expand the enjoyment of daughter and mom time. My dd started this way, daughter started lessons with my time and it has lasted as a M/D shared enjoyment for 30 years.
Haven't read the entire thread but at my barn there are a ton of kids that ride and there are typically a few that stop during the winter (kids that ride lesson ponies - not lease or own) - most of them were never so dedicated to be riding 2x a week in the first place and typically lessons are about 30min not an hour. They just don't like being cold and aren't planning to show so it doesn't matter if they ride through the winter or not.
I would talk to your daughter - she may be just be cold but she also might be burnt out and you risk pushing her away from horses entirely if you force her to ride when she claims she doesn't want to. Good luck and I hope it all works out
Firstly I would never push a kid into anything they were not keen on - sports is all about having fun at this age.
I don't agree with the idea that a kid should push through to learn discipline
(at this age). Later - say 14 or so - there somes a time when one has to
if you are going to do any sport. We all have days when we want to stay in.
I, for one, am a fair weather rider, more and more so.
My own kids took up their respective sports and excelled and stuck with it without being pushed - it came from within, and there is a fine line from being
pushed or supported.
She may love the idea of joining Pony Club when everybody is in the same boat and there are lots of indoor activities at that time of year - with friends.
I'd save my money. An hour is awfully long to be out in the cold.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
What about compromising with a thirty minute lesson once a week? Less time out in the elements, enough time in the saddle that it won't be hard when she picks back up in the spring, and lets her feel like she has a say in her hobby.
Everyone, I really appreciated the comments. Also, posting allowed me to get my own thoughts straight. I was hoping for some input with respect to backing out of the verbal commitment on leasing the pony.
However, I didnt explain the whole situation, Too long and boring! I guess I'm going to have to put in my big girl panties and talk to her trainer!
It could be way worse. My 17yo daughter who rode H/J all her life and is a beautiful rider has taken a break from H/J and is barrel racing. I kid you not. I'm riding the H/J horses and she is having a blast chasing cans. I admit I have been chasing cows on the side too. Give her options and let her decide. She can go down to one lesson, stop until it gets warmer, or stop completely. Riding is not something you want to force a child to do. Too expensive.
She's seven. It's supposed to be fun at that age (at any age in fact :-)).
Let her have a break. If she is really keen, she'll want to return to it.
I agree here. I don't remember cold weather ever dampening my drive to ride as a kid. Bareback in the snow after a lesson was the besstttt! Make sure you're not just pushing her to stick with it so you can live through her. And if she does quit, put the extra $ into lessons for yourself if you enjoy "barn time". Soccer or field hockey are a heck of a lot cheaper!
My feeling on this is that a kid that doesn't want to ride should never be forced to ride. Horses are big, can be scary, and rely on humans to be confident and make good judgment calls. A kid whose heart isn't in it won't enjoy the sport, may have a higher risk of injury, and will almost certainly do a disservice to the horse due to a lack of interest.
In general, though, I don't believe in forcing a square peg into a round hole. I took a lot of golf lessons as a kid. I gotta say, I hated it then and a golfer I am not today. I can honestly say that I have never once (especially as a kid!) thought about giving up riding. I have considered giving my horse time off or taking time off due to other obligations, but at my core I have always ached to ride nonstop from age five straight through to age 32. If a kid doesn't feel this way about horses and riding? They are just not that into it, IMO.
Because I was so horse obsessed that I would almost literally think of and do nothing else as a kid, my parents forced me to pick any sport in high school and do that in addition to riding. It was a good method for forcing me to become more well rounded. I picked track, was good at it, and enjoyed it. I also gave myself athletic amennorea (sp?) because I continued to ride at least 3 horses a day in addition to track, but there you go.
Anyway, my advice is to not force it. Riding might not be your child's passion. Every child should be given the opportunity to discover their own passions and not be forced to participate in their parents' passions. My parents' passion was golf.