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Ideas for teaching the pleasure riding adult

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  • Ideas for teaching the pleasure riding adult

    I will preface by saying that I normally do not teach, but a training horse client of mine asked if I would give her granddaughter some lessons, and I agree. Student is 19 yrs old, and very shy. She knows me and is comfortable with me, so that's why I agreed as opposed to referring her out. They have a small 4 yr old draft cross mare who is very green, but quiet. Rider has no interest in showing at this time, but would like to be more confident. She's not a total beginner, can walk/trot, post and steer/stop. Not comfortable cantering yet. Would like to eventually learn to jump small (2-2'6) fences.

    Ideas on exercises I could do with her? We had our first lesson today, and worked on steering at the walk and trot, without using hands/reins for balance. Basic position fixes - weight in heels, etc. I had her work on a circle over poles, starting with one pole on the circle and working up to four. Basic transitions using the poles as a guide as to when to stop/go.

    The mare, while green, seems willing and docile. Despite her training level, seems like an appropriate mount temperament wise.

    Any brilliant ideas, thoughts, suggestions appreciated.
    Rural Property Specialist
    Keller Williams Realtors

    Email Me for Horse Property!

  • #2
    One of my favorite exercises is having them ride on the lunge, bareback, with a neck strap. It helps teach them to feel the gait and also how to balance without the reins. While doing this you can also ask her to squeeze using different parts of her leg, have her put her balance in different spots to see/feel the difference, and also what happens if she leans forward. Obviously don't encourage her to fall. A girl I was teaching several years ago rolled over my (saintly) horse's shoulder after she tensed up and wouldn't listen to me telling her to relax and sit back. She blinked, cried a little from shock, then laughed hysterically. Completely unhurt, but she learned a very valuable lesson!!

    I also like to set up cones in various places of the arena, and explain what leg/rein/aid will get them from one to the other. Then as they are doing the exercise, have them explain it back to you aloud.

    Something I did with the same girl mentioned above when she started to get handsy was have her halt, let out her reins, and I took ahold of them while she held strong like she was the horse. Pull back and forth, yank, etc, to demonstrate how unpleasant the action she was doing was for the horse. Then ask the correct way, then have her "take the reins" while your hands are the horse, and she asks again.

    Breathing exercises are good as well. Breathe in for 4 strides, out for 4 strides. Exhale when asking to halt, inhale when asking to go forward.

    Drop a stirrup, then pick it back up without flailing/falling.

    Even though she's not a TOTAL beginner, taking her way back to the very basics and making sure she's doing them correctly will be helpful. You can always move forward quickly if she IS doing it right, but just a basic assessment doesn't hurt.

    Good luck!
    runnjump86 Instagram

    Horse Junkies United guest blogger


    • #3
      I used to do "themes" For example:

      Steering day - set various cones and poles on the ground and have them steer first at the walk, then at the trot (and if appropriate, canter), starting simple and then making the steering more difficult and changing directions, etc.

      Transitions day - work on transitions from walk to trot, trot to walk, canter if appropriate, transitions from sitting to posting, two-point to seated, and faster/slower within same gait as well as more collected lengthening, teaching the difference between going faster versus going from collected to working to lengthening to (maybe) medium within the gait

      Balance day - maybe on the lunge, or if horse quite, not necessarily. Work without stirrups, bending to touch various body parts, pulling leg one at a time away from saddle, etc.

      Memory day - learn parts (or all of) dressage tests and/or courses made of poles on the ground

      etc, etc
      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


      • #4
        I get a lot of riders like this. Remember slow and steady wins the race, and before you know it she will being doing things to blow your mind!

        I always put them on the lunge to start and do stretches at the walk.

        1. butt in the saddle, heels down, break at the waist and reach for the ears. rise back to sitting keep hands over head.

        2. keeping hands over head, heels down, feet pressing down in the stirrup (the upper theigh tries to pull the leg up on this one) breathing out, lay back on horses butt and deep breath and back to sitting.

        I do that pair three times each.

        Then, the oldy but goody! AROUND THE WORLD! Drop stirrups, swing left leg over neck, right leg over butt, right leg over neck and reverse.

        posting "black stallion style" arms out to the sides at walk and trot on line, while on line, add in trot poles.

        Silly obstacle courses. Ride over the poles, weave the cones. Pick this cone up on of the first jump standard carry it down to the next and drop it off. move a crop from one bucket to the next, over a bridge/log/pile of trot poles, Do it again no stirrups, or one handed etc.

        Then, when you think she is ready, you give her the BIG boost! the mini trail ride! This is a huge one for my kids of all ages (yes my adults included) Instead of dismounting and leading their horse, I allow them to ride up from the arena and follow the "long trail" back to the hitching post on their own. Of course I am in the position to help if needed but I am sure to seem as if I am paying no attention to them what so ever. Those moments of doing all on their own make a big impression.

        Also, in my experince, students who have this type of confidence problem do so because they are so analytical. They need to fully understand what they are doing, why, how it works, etc. I find I spend more time on theory in the beginning with them. Explaining the exercise, doing it, discussing it, doing it again. As they understand more they become more confident, these are also my riders who start telling me the mistakes they make before I can correct them some days!

        Have fun with her!
        “Four things greater than all things are, - Women and Horses and Power and War”


        • Original Poster

          Thank you guys so much for the suggestions. Sounds like we're doing some of what you guys mentioned, but this gives me some new ideas. She's super quiet and shy, so it's hard to get feedback from her, but I told her to at least 'nod' when she understands me! Haha.

          I also pulled the new Intro level dressage tests - the A/B which are just walk and trot. I thought those might be good to school as well.
          Rural Property Specialist
          Keller Williams Realtors

          Email Me for Horse Property!


          • #6
            Because she's so shy, you might want to look into TAGteaching her. (Shhh--This is basically clicker-training for humans, but let's call it positive reinforcement with an audible marker as a bridge.)

            The "tag" helps with getting the emotional issues out of the way and allows the learner to concentrate on the task. You work out a specific tag point and talk to the learner about it, but during the practice, there's no verbal feedback, it's only the clicker.

            There's a lot more to it, but it's great for riding and sports of all kinds. Any instructor would get a lot of food.

            Here's an example video with a toddler learning to enter a swimming pool.
            Ring the bells that still can ring
            Forget your perfect offering
            There is a crack in everything
            That's how the light gets in.


            • #7
              There are so many things you can do on the lunge line:

              Posting trot, get the correct diagonal, post five times, change, post four times, change, post three times, change, post twice, change, post once, change, then work your way back up.

              Posting trot, pat your head with your right hand. Now your left hand. Rub your tummy with your right hand. Now your left hand. Now pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. change hands.

              Post the trot, sit one stride. Post, sit two strides. Post, sit three strides. Work up to as many as she can.

              Post the trot, drop the reins, keep posting, and without looking down, pick up the reins.

              Bridge reins, sit, resume reins, repeat.

              Sing the alphabet song. this is really good for shy kids.


              • #8
                YES! Singing is so great! I have a ton of songs I have them sing for each thing they are doing and I sing along and make myself look like a moron, once they start laughing, they're all yours

                My favorite is my 2 point song:
                sung to the birdy dance
                "I don't wanna be a chicken, but I'd like to be a duck, so I shake my butt!"
                amazingly singing this also helps them remember the proper position....

                MelantheLLC: that is a fantastic idea, I have gotten to using it so much with certain students I forgot about it, it is like second nature. it really is a great way to circumvent emotions.
                “Four things greater than all things are, - Women and Horses and Power and War”