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  1. #21
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    Oct. 23, 2011
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    This child needs an instructer with some empathy , evidently that isn't you ... After several falls from spooking horses this CHILD is terrified of what CAN happen .. She's not faking and you can slice and dice it any way you like , your perfectly nice , well schooled , steady eddy pony deked and bucked and the kid CAME OFF !!!

    Trust issue here for both you and the pony you touted as a safe mount .. The kid has no seat , legs or control is my best guess ... Back to basics on the lunge until SHE is ready to move on .. If indeed she even wants to ride ..

    Oh and to reiterate , the child is in no way ready to show anywhere , not in the near future at least..... I would also be having the conversation with both her and the parents to see if indeed this child wants to ride or if she is in some way being coerced into it .


    11 members found this post helpful.

  2. #22
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    Dec. 10, 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReSomething View Post
    But as a parent I'm not sure I want the instructor to give the suck it up cupcake speech either.
    As a parent, I would most certainly want my daughter's riding instructor to deliver it.


    15 members found this post helpful.

  3. #23
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    Mar. 4, 2010
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    Whether they were flukes or not, they have affected her. I have unfortunately experienced two bad falls in the last 3 years and it's taken quite a bit of self talk to get back on the horse again, even tho neither fall was the horse's fault - or my fault for that matter.

    One thing that may not be helping either - I find I do much better if I ride as often as possible - the more normal rides I have, the less fear I have. If she is only riding sporadically because she is far away, she's got way too much time to think about it in between rides. That can't be helping.

    I am somewhat sympathetic with you as well though. I grew up riding anything and everything and fell off a lot. Never thought twice about it, altho I never got badly hurt either. It's hard to reconcile that experience with someone who gets so wound up about it, but we just have to admit that we experience things differently and try to look at it from her point of view.

    You are going to have to re-school her, just like you would re-school a horse with a similar problem. Go back to the basics, go slow, and let her take the lead. Expecting to show in less in a month is not going to help her - all that pressure is a bad thing.

    And, maybe you and her parents need to stop focusing on it so much. Set a plan of action that works for her, follow it, but cool the psychoanalysis. It's giving her inappropriate attention.

    Good luck!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  4. #24
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    Oct. 26, 2007
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    San Jose, Ca
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    I don’t have a ton of advice. I would talk to her parents, find out if this is the only area she gets scared and hysterical. Explain to the parents that it is NOT okay behavior around horses – and maybe they can talk to her and help.

    Maybe she needs counseling, maybe she needs a different trainer that will coddle her.

    At 10 years old – my young green horse dumped me regularly. I always was eager to get back on. I also had instructors that would NOT tolerate outburst, and would send you out of the ring if you did not straighten up. I wanted to ride more than anything on earth, so I did my very best to follow their instructions.

    There is NO WAY I would be taking her to a show with her current confidence level.

    Edited to add:

    Just curious – do kids not fall off much anymore while learning to ride? When I started riding (when I was 8 – 1986) – I was told all riders come off – its part of learning how to ride. That you were not a “real rider” until you took a spill – your first fall was a bit of a badge of honor.

    Maybe it is because I started out with crazy eventers and fox hunters. You were also taught HOW to fall – and practiced emergency dismounts at the walk, trot, and then canter.

    Perhaps teaching her HOW to fall, and practicing emergency dismounts would empower her?
    Last edited by Appsolute; Feb. 15, 2013 at 04:00 PM.


    13 members found this post helpful.

  5. #25
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    Jun. 27, 2010
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    SE VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Does she have anxiety issues anywhere else (if you know)? Does the child really want to continue riding...maybe it's time for "the discussion."

    Other than that, if she really wants to and her anxiety is getting in the way, maybe it's time for some professional counseling.

    EDA: I'm not sure that you, OP would be the best one to ask if she wants to continue to ride. Sometimes that happens. The daughter of a very good friend (and trainer) quit riding for several years after she fell off. My friend was fine with it...she's back riding again. It's a hobby and it's supposed to be fun, don't forget that.

    Yes, after the lesson we went into my house and over a pizza, I nonchalantly asked her is she still wanted to plan to go to this show. She said she did. The mom and I talked to her and explained that sometimes variables come up, and we as riders have to keep our chin up, do the best we can, and commit to seeing the plan through if possible. If she wants to do this I know she can, IF she decides to.

    She does have anxiety in other areas. I really did not make that connection till now. She HAS to have her mom tuck her into bed every night. She will get very upset if that does not happen.



  6. #26
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    Dec. 10, 2012
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    I think the parents are expecting you to be a free "therapist".

    A 10 yo needing to be tucked into bed is not normal development/behavior for that age.


    16 members found this post helpful.

  7. #27
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    Dec. 7, 2008
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    First of all, do not take this kid to a show.

    Next, I would have a chat with her and her parents. Make it clear that you understand her fear and anxiety, and given the circumstances, those are entirely appropriate emotions. BUT pitching fits, and storming off the horse are not acceptable ways to express those emotions. Personally, I'm always happy to help a student deal with his/her anxiety and fear in a constructive way inside or outside a lesson, and it's ok if a kid is upset while riding, but there is a big difference between being upset and calmly discussing the problem, and being upset and throwing a temper tantrum. The latter has no place around me, or the horses. At the first sign of the waterworks, I excuse the kid from the lesson, they are only welcome back after they straighten out their attitude and apologize to me for their behavior. If they aren't mature enough to have a handle on their emotions (standards are pretty low, I basically just don't allow outbursts like the ones you describe) then they aren't mature enough to take riding lessons. There are some 6 year-olds that have a better handle on themselves than some teens--go figure.

    But back to your problem, if she were my student, I would spell out my no-tantrum policy in detail and then tell her that in order to deal with her fear/anxiety I will be scaling back the difficulty of the lessons, and have her do something that it easy for her--like walk/trot on a lunge line instead of jump a course. I'd even see if I could put her on a different, dead quiet pony if there is any chance the horse is the issue. She should get really bored really fast doing basic stuff, so slowly, over the course of several weeks/months I'd increase the difficulty of the lessons. If at any point she start to exhibit the fear/anxiety she's displaying now, I'd discuss it with her, and then back the difficulty level back down again. She'll either plateau on certain problem(s), which will give you an opportunity to fix the issue(s) or she shoot through the "re-education" program like a rocket, and start successfully showing with her confidence bolstered by many weeks/months of basic training.

    When implementing this strategy it's really imperative that you make the student understand that you are not punishing them for their fear/anxiety, but you're trying to build their confidence back up, so that when they start doing the "difficult" stuff again, they are coming at it with a much better mind-set. It's also important that you try to pin-point precisely what is feeding a student's fear/anxiety. This can be difficult, but it's worth trying. Sometimes, the emotions are being fed by a simple (rational) fear of falling off, other times it can be a far more complicated, like a parent undermining their child's confidence at home. No matter the source, they are always ways of tackling the problem(s).


    13 members found this post helpful.

  8. #28
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    Aug. 25, 2007
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    Coming off a horse is not a "fluke." It's a part and parcel of the world of equitation. Those who don't "eat dirt" every now and then don't ride much.

    I don't like to come off; it hurts. I'm not into pain (self inflicted or otherwise). But I'm old enough to know and understand that the risk is always there. How do you teach this to a ten year old? I don't know. Neither does the OP. Perhaps it's time for another instructor to try.

    If the kid just doesn't want to do ride then leave her be. This is not an activity for everyone. If she wants to (and I mean she wants to ride because it pleases her, not a parent or other adult) then she'll figure out how to "suck it up" and move on down the road. Frankly, from the story told, I think the kid wants out. Let her learn to play the piano or dance or take up soccer or whatever other things she might find to be fun.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


    5 members found this post helpful.

  9. #29
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    Jan. 31, 2007
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    Not a mental health professional nor a riding instructor. I'm just a mom with a daughter who can lack self confidence and be overly cautious and careful but NOT to the point of hysteria.

    I can see a parent wanting a girl to take lessons who has anxiety/fear issues because riding is a great way to boost self confidence in a young girl.

    If I was her parent and my daughter truly wanted to ride but fear was getting in the way in the situations described, I would ask the instructor to quietly get ahold of the pony and ask her if she wanted to calm down and continue. If yes, then give her 5 minutes to compose herself. We'd then continue even if it simply meant the instructor leading the pony around. If not, we'd pack up and go home. We'd come back again another day and try again. No big deal, no trouble, just chock it up to part of the learning process.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  10. #30
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    Apr. 21, 2010
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    Why so much pressure? She obviously has some sort of "block" whether its mental, emotional, whatever. Sounds like the parents (or you) should tell her, she needs to take a step back. Whether its a total break, or she needs to be on a total babysitter type who is half in the grave.

    Whether she's dramatic, or she's truly scared is irrelevant. The fact is, in HER mind, she doesn't want to do it. So why push it? She's 11. Let her do some "fun" riding if that's what she wants, until her confidence is back. Then work her back up.

    Its not going to happen with tough love at this point, IMO. Its escalated too far beyond that. If that's from parents coddling, or whatever, its still there.

    Why not sit down with her and discuss HER goals (without Mom and Dad). Let her be honest about what SHE wants to do. If showing the pony is in the list, then you need to explain what needs to happen before that can occur.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  11. #31
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    Oct. 25, 2012
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    4,219

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    Quote Originally Posted by c'est moi View Post
    First of all, do not take this kid to a show.

    Next, I would have a chat with her and her parents. Make it clear that you understand her fear and anxiety, and given the circumstances, those are entirely appropriate emotions. BUT pitching fits, and storming off the horse are not acceptable ways to express those emotions. Personally, I'm always happy to help a student deal with his/her anxiety and fear in a constructive way inside or outside a lesson, and it's ok if a kid is upset while riding, but there is a big difference between being upset and calmly discussing the problem, and being upset and throwing a temper tantrum. The latter has no place around me, or the horses. At the first sign of the waterworks, I excuse the kid from the lesson, they are only welcome back after they straighten out their attitude and apologize to me for their behavior. If they aren't mature enough to have a handle on their emotions (standards are pretty low, I basically just don't allow outbursts like the ones you describe) then they aren't mature enough to take riding lessons. There are some 6 year-olds that have a better handle on themselves than some teens--go figure.

    But back to your problem, if she were my student, I would spell out my no-tantrum policy in detail and then tell her that in order to deal with her fear/anxiety I will be scaling back the difficulty of the lessons, and have her do something that it easy for her--like walk/trot on a lunge line instead of jump a course. I'd even see if I could put her on a different, dead quiet pony if there is any chance the horse is the issue. She should get really bored really fast doing basic stuff, so slowly, over the course of several weeks/months I'd increase the difficulty of the lessons. If at any point she start to exhibit the fear/anxiety she's displaying now, I'd discuss it with her, and then back the difficulty level back down again. She'll either plateau on certain problem(s), which will give you an opportunity to fix the issue(s) or she shoot through the "re-education" program like a rocket, and start successfully showing with her confidence bolstered by many weeks/months of basic training.

    When implementing this strategy it's really imperative that you make the student understand that you are not punishing them for their fear/anxiety, but you're trying to build their confidence back up, so that when they start doing the "difficult" stuff again, they are coming at it with a much better mind-set. It's also important that you try to pin-point precisely what is feeding a student's fear/anxiety. This can be difficult, but it's worth trying. Sometimes, the emotions are being fed by a simple (rational) fear of falling off, other times it can be a far more complicated, like a parent undermining their child's confidence at home. No matter the source, they are always ways of tackling the problem(s).
    THIS, 100%, plus one additional little tool:

    Teach her "square breathing." For those who have not done Lamaze or some other trainings, you breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4; hold it full for a count of 4; exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 4; then hold empty for a count of 4. It gives her something to do with her attention which should derail the tantrum.

    It should also derail her adrenaline dump (Sympathetic Nervous System Response) which is the real problem here. Most of us have been taught to interpret the body's natural fight-or-flight feeling as "fear," or worse yet, "panic." Instead, she needs to be taught that "that awful feeling" is her body's way of preparing her to do HER VERY BEST, physically and mentally, in handling a difficult situation. It may also help to explain that this is exactly what a frightened HORSE is feeling, too--so she needs to keep her cool so as to calm him down.

    "Square Breathing" is used by police dept. SWAT teams and combat troops so that they can function in actual near-death situations. It works. It's the only way this ol' lady is still able to get on babies!


    9 members found this post helpful.

  12. #32
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    Dec. 31, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by caballero View Post
    I think the parents are expecting you to be a free "therapist".

    A 10 yo needing to be tucked into bed is not normal development/behavior for that age.
    I agree with this. I don't think that this is a typical had a fall/fear related problem, I think it goes further and deeper beyond that. Of course the falls didn't help anything. Perhaps the only riding she wants to do is in her head. Maybe take her to the show but not to ride, but to spectate. Have her show up and just groom the pony for her "lesson". Good luck, sounds like a tough situation.
    I LOVE my Chickens!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  13. #33
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    double post
    I LOVE my Chickens!



  14. #34
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    Apr. 5, 2011
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    I have a few questions:

    1.) Is this kid capable of sticking with this pony? I'm guessing not, which makes me think she's missing quite a bit of foundation work (lunging w/o stirrups, riding bareback, etc.). If she's missing that, she has no business jumping. Or showing.

    2.) Does she do this in other areas of her life -- i.e., has she learned that pitching a fit is an easy out? Or is she truly terrified?

    3.) As others have asked: does she really want to ride? Or is she afraid of hurting her parents' feelings, or yours?

    I was a working student when a girl a little younger than this came to my riding instructor -- she had been riding a family horse when the saddle slipped and she ended up getting dragged under the horse for a ways before finally falling and barely avoiding being trampled. She never did get over her fear, no matter what. I even rode the horses with her a few times, walked beside her in lunge lessons, etc. Nothing worked. There just might not be anything you can do in this situation. She just may be absolutely convinced that she cannot/will not do this.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #35
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    Apr. 25, 2000
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    You know, even as an adult, I suffer from some pretty serious anxiety issues. There's no rhyme or reason, and even when I know better, sometimes those butterflies just get the best of me!

    When I was her age and went through a rough patch, I had a great trainer who gave me a lesson in HOW to fall. I literally "fell off" time after time after time - off the side, head first, backwards, etc. etc. etc. until it wasn't quite so scary. I also took a step back - so if we were cantering courses and I was freaking out, we went back to trotting crossrails until I was up for another step back up.

    But - to this day - I still think about my falling off lesson and how it helped me realize I DID know the right way to fall, and it would hopefully help minimize the danger I felt I was in when something didn't go right.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  16. #36
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    Jan. 14, 2013
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    This is not crap she is pulling. I understand that you are frusterated, and never yelled or expressed anger. However, put yourself in her shoes. Most likely, she is frusterated too. I have had the same problem, and yes, she will work out of it. However, it is likely it will take more than a month. Setting a date for her to work herself out of it won't help, either. Don't go to the show. Be patient with her- i understand that you are frusterated, but I promise she WILL work out of it. When

    I was ten, I was put on a horse who was usually very calm. I had only been riding for about six months, but it was on a calm trail and we were only walking. We came across some dogs, and long story short, the horse spooked and I fell. I wasn't seriously hurt, but I did fall on gravel and acquired some interesting bruising... It took months for me to get back to where I was before I fell. It was a set back, but if she really likes riding, she WILL pull through eventually.
    Tack Cleaning/All-Things-Tack nut
    ~DQ wanna-be~



  17. #37
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    Jun. 1, 2002
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    Your pony bucked her off when the jets flew to close, it is a very normal feeling to then be afraid when the jets fly by. Even if they aren't "too close" as you say it doesn't really matter in her mind. What matters to her is that the last time it happened she fell off.

    Yes, falling off is part of riding but instructors should minimize that risk by putting kids on appropriate horses. She has not fallen off of three horses, she's been dumped by three horses that sound unsuitable. It's different to fall off understanding what YOU did wrong, it's another thing to fall off because you lose control of your horse and it unloads you.

    Your attitidue of "pulling this crap" and "waterworks" shows that you are not understand and have no intention of helping her work through her fear issues. The same with your "pull up your big girl panties" and "irritated me beyond words." You don't think that frustration comes through? It all sounds really mean and indifferent to somebody who obviously has fear issues.

    You have a scared young girl who seems to want to ride and she needs an appropriate instructor and horse to help rebuild her ruined confidence. I don't think, given your opinion of this girl, that it is you.


    12 members found this post helpful.

  18. #38
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    You know, doing some more thinking about this - I am so blessed to have worked with patient, understanding instructors. I'm sure they did get frustrated at me, but they also worked on solutions that worked FOR me - like the lessons in how to PROPERLY fall off.


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  19. #39
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    That you're even saying it here about "pulling crap", "waterworks" and "big girl panties" tells me you THINK you haven't shown her you're frustrated and annoyed, but I'm very sure she knows. enjoytheride's right, that comes through to the kid even if you don't say anything specifically.

    First--if jumping is a big part of the situations where she's unsteady, no jumping. She doesn't need to be on a steady-eddy hunter pony, she needs the deadest thing in the barn on a lunge line. That's what it took for the therapeutic trainer who had to undo what falls did to me at that age (and it still took me years and riding dead horses and not jumping unless I felt like it, preferably without an audience, to really get past panic attacks.) If she wants to show that desperately, let her show on the flat, again on the quietest thing you have even if it isn't pretty.

    Not all kids have the Clueless Gene where they don't realize what can happen to them when they fall off until they reach adulthood, and some are way TOO aware of it. This isn't a problem you can fix in a month.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  20. #40
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by mpsbarnmanager View Post
    Yes, after the lesson we went into my house and over a pizza, I nonchalantly asked her is she still wanted to plan to go to this show. She said she did. The mom and I talked to her and explained that sometimes variables come up, and we as riders have to keep our chin up, do the best we can, and commit to seeing the plan through if possible. If she wants to do this I know she can, IF she decides to.

    She does have anxiety in other areas. I really did not make that connection till now. She HAS to have her mom tuck her into bed every night. She will get very upset if that does not happen.
    That's nice that she and mom still want to go to the show, but unfortunately until she is ready to go through her regular riding lessons without having a freak out about it, no horse shows.

    Sometimes there is a disconnect between what the riding student wants and the time frame in which it is possible to achieve it, as well as between the DEMONSTRATION (as opposed to just the DECLARATION) of readiness. Until she DEMONSTRATES that she is ready, she can declare whatever she wants, no horse show.

    Personally I would refuse to take that kid to a horse show until she was abjectly begging, and one little reference to '...did we say we wanted to horseshow...?" nips any and all freak outs in the bud immediately. If it doesn't nip the freakout in the bud immediately, then either her confidence isn't ready or she doesn't **really** want it bad enough, or both, in which case, stay home.


    6 members found this post helpful.

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