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Child Fear

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  • Child Fear

    Sorry in advance for the long winded post. . ..I am at a total standstill with one child (10yrs) I teach.

    When child was about 7 she owned a pony that supposedly through her into the fence. By age 8 she was lessoning with us and the pony was given away.

    Fast forward 2 years. . . and her fear has never left. . .she started riding our 11 hand beginner pony that can do a lot for her size, but now that the little girl is 10 she is too tall for the pony by a good amount (luckily the girl is tiny or she would have outgrown her long ago).

    more Back story. . .family owns a good size farm. In summer they bought two 15 hand horses. . . great minds. . .no spook, such a great buy. One was part draft so very slow, great idea for the girl and her mom or so we thought. We get to her farm and the girl is very nervous riding the small horse in the ring, we bring my other 6 year old with us and hop her on the pony to show that a kid half her age can walk trot her around alone, etc. What happens, she is on the draftx and the horse starts trotting to the other horse in front and the little girl panics and jumps off. . .yes jumps off. . .luckily not hurt.

    At this point we aren't sure what to do. . . she wouldn't care if the horses were sold. . . however in the winter and two horses, one a paint and the other a draftx, who haven't been ridden in a few months. it would be impossible to give them away let alone sell them for what they paid. So looks like they will be pasture puffs if we don't come up with a plan of soem sort.

    So back to our farm. . .we try to push the issue to teach her on her own horse, because it's not going anywhere right now anyway. . .too dark by the time she gets home from school and weekends are packed for both of us usually. She comes 1x a week for lessons and still riding the 11 hand pony. Keep in mind that that pony is not easy. She doesn't do anything horrible, but is ring sour horribly. Push her onto one of my 12, 13 hand ponies and the pony does something not nearly as bad as the 11 hand pony and the kid has a melt down. I don't know how to help her. . . In my opinion she is not a kid made to ride, but she hasn't come for a few weeks now because of family emergencies and the kid has been totally bummed even with ponies in her backyard.

    At some point she is going to be a preteen/teen and still not want ot be on anyone but the teeny little pony. On that 11 hand pony she will walk, trot, canter, beat her past the gate, canter jumps, etc. . . .put her on any other pony, even easier ponies and she doesn't want to be let off the longe line.

    I know I rambled quite a bit. . .it's just so tough to ifgure out. . .The mom is not pushing it at all either . . .she is just the sweetest lady trying to do what she thinks would be great for the girls. I don't know what the answer is. . . .keep her on the 11 hand pony who she feels comfortable, push her onto my medium or even other small ponies to get her comfortable riding other horses. .. .and how about her own horses? push the issue, leave it alone, etc ugh! Sweetest family/ child, I just wish their was an easy answer. *(Mind you same thing happened with this little girl's 8 year old sister. . ..she was worse if possible, nothing happened to her at all, except watching her sister, started out as a great little rider and all of a sudden just started panicking and going down hill. She no longer rides and that is fine with her and her mom too.

  • #2
    Let her ride the little pony. No harm, no foul. Not every kid is going to progress. Its ok
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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    • #3
      My friend's daughter had a similar experience. Once she had to move on to a bigger pony. The only let her walk. By let her. I mean she was not allowed to do anything other than walk, stand in her stirrups at the walk, walk pole courses, walk in two point. Until she begged to do more. Then they let her trot. and so on. She could jump around but since she would over react on the new pony they just took it incredibly slow. Each step she had to beg (not just ask) to proceed.

      I know it sounds weird but it worked she progressed because she didn't like being "held" back. When they tried to push her she had melt downs but she move along when the tried to "hold her back".
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      • Original Poster

        #4
        I agree temporarily. . . however give it another 6-12 months and her legs will be close to the ground. . . .she should probably be on about a 13.2-14 hand pony at this point. I guess being as skinny as she is, it won't do any harm to the pony, just look quite silly.

        I personally think that the horses they own should be sold, however if that is not possible, then a free lease might work. . . .too bad they don't have a ring.

        Comment


        • #5
          Move her onto a super steady, kind 13H pony (to give her more time for growing before this issue rises again) - let her be on the lunge for all her lessons until she asks for more, allow her to walk the pony for some time after her lesson, build her ground relationship with the pony etc.


          What happens, she is on the draftx and the horse starts trotting to the other horse in front
          This is not OK

          Not sure why family bought these 2 horses - did girl agree & then change her mind? was she not consulted? - I suspect that control is very important to her.

          Would family consider a breed such as an Icelandic?

          Comment


          • #6
            This sport is expensive and dangerous. It takes hours and hours, week after week, month after year to get good enough to have any fun at it. Why on earth would anyone push it on a kid who's afraid?
            2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

            A helmet saved my life.

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            • #7
              I agree with the others who say hold her back. My younger sister has HORRIBLE confidence issues. I put her on my steady-eddy mare who was coming off of an injury and needed 40 min walks. Perfect task for her. She used to be terrified of this mare, but agreed to just walk. After a few weeks of walking, and walking, and walking, I finally agreed to let her trot, and so on. She has built ridiculous amounts of confidence, because she WANTS to always do more now.. she doesn't really take it for granted. For example, before, the horse she was riding would sometimes root a bit after jumps or get a bit fresh and take the long spot instead of waiting. If my sister became the least bit scared, she would ball her eyes out, get off, and in a couple of incidences she actually got off and just left the horse in the middle of the ring. That attitude was NOT tolerated, however, and I always made her come back and take care of the horse properly. Horse always comes first.

              Nowadays, she can deal with my mare's occasional antics just fine. She was hacking her alone one day while I was making lunch, and I can see the entire property incl. ring from the kitchen window. She was cooling mare out around the track, and as she came around the corner she spooked at something and reared up. I rushed out to the porch, certain that she would start balling her eyes out.. I asked her if she was okay, she said "yep", dug her little spurs in and off they went. If that happened 3/4 months ago it would be game over.

              There was one incident where she really had a breakthrough. Mare was just getting back into jumping, and we were doing trot poles to a small xrail. The first couple of times she got a bit quick after, and we were halting at the end of the arena. I told her to turn the corner if she felt that mare was behaving, but she didn't really pay attention to the "if she's behaving" part and rocketed around the corner. Scared the crap out of my sister. I told her that she can do it again and halt at the end, or she can not ride my mare anymore because she needs to get back to work. She stood on my horse for probably 30 minutes, crying, rationalizing, and I sat there and said she had to make a decision RIGHT NOW. She trotted off and finished her lesson.

              All in all, you should have a talk with her about taking the sport seriously. This isn't a game.. or in the words of GM.. "this is horse jumping, not tiddlywinks".

              Comment


              • #8
                Tell her that there are other riders who need to ride the pony, and that she needs to ride other horses. Thats what my trainer did. No way could one rider ride the same schoolie every lesson when I was a kid.

                Put her on other easy ponies and let her go at one step behind her own pace (I'm there with the hold her back crowd.) She says she can w/t/c on the lunge? Start with w/t and work from there. And if she never asks to so more? Thats fine too.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There's no shame in admitting that not everyone is capable of working through a particular fear.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A couple of thoughts. If they want to pay you for the lessons, let her ride what she wants, and just do what she comfortable with, make it fun and don't worry about progression. She's 11. Play games, if it's not rewarding for you, then ask them to move on.

                    My first thought, though when reading your thread, is that this kid probably doesn't 1) want to ride at all, she's over it. or 2) she should be riding western. on a pony who jogs super super slow, and the kid can sit in a big saddle that makes her feel safe.

                    Also, I have had clients like this, trying to keep horses at home, as well as take lessons, and the kids are then susposed to ride and practice at home on unschooled horses. It's really really hard for the nervous kid to do this.

                    I hate having been in this position, and the few times I have had, I have either gradually parted ways with the clients (we are still friendly, but I don't see them on a regular basis, too frustrating for all of us. 1/2 lesson is spent trying to keep pony from eating grass while under saddle, or pony is too distracted by herd mates to focus, and family can't understand why on earth the horses are stressed, they are only turned out togther 24/7, and only come in to work on lesson days, because Suzie is at, soccer, dance, birthday party or mom had to get ready for a house party etc etc etc.) or the pony/ horse finally came to live at our barn and be a part of our program. The latter option turns out way better.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TheHorseProblem View Post
                      This sport is expensive and dangerous. It takes hours and hours, week after week, month after year to get good enough to have any fun at it. Why on earth would anyone push it on a kid who's afraid?
                      Is it being pushed? OR does kiddo WANT to ride? If the latter is true, it needs to be fun FOR HER. I totally sympathize with this child; I could BE her (except for the parents buying a horse part) I took a very easy fall in an early lesson when i was 8 or 9. I wasn't hurt in any way, but I was TERRIFIED to ride for a long time after that, but I wanted to so badly that I kept it up. Thank goodness nobody gave up on me! 30 years later, I'm still a timid rider, but a decent one. I know the limits of my fear-and if I never jump more than a certain height because it scares me, that's fine with me. Tough toenails if it's not ok with someone else! (And I can identify with kiddo: the bigger the horse, the scarier, even if the big one is a saint.)

                      Does the kiddo WANT to ride? That's really the basic question. It needs to be asked gently by someone, preferably a parent, and made known that she doesn't HAVE to ride if she doesn't want to.

                      BUT, If she really DOES want to ride, she should progress at her own pace. I agree that she should be asking to do something before being asked to do it. If you have a larger pony who lunges well and she wants to ride on the lunge for a year? Fine. Let her, as long as SHE wants to do it. It doesn't have to be fun for YOU, it has to be fun for HER! If she never jumps, fine. If she wants to w/t or trail ride forever, also fine. "Good enough to have any fun" is subjective. If she's having fun walking on the lunge, great! It's nobody's place to judge whether she should progress faster or be having more fun except hers!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HenryisBlaisin' View Post
                        Does the kiddo WANT to ride? That's really the basic question. It needs to be asked gently by someone, preferably a parent, and made known that she doesn't HAVE to ride if she doesn't want to.

                        BUT, If she really DOES want to ride, she should progress at her own pace. I agree that she should be asking to do something before being asked to do it. If you have a larger pony who lunges well and she wants to ride on the lunge for a year? Fine. Let her, as long as SHE wants to do it. It doesn't have to be fun for YOU, it has to be fun for HER! If she never jumps, fine. If she wants to w/t or trail ride forever, also fine. "Good enough to have any fun" is subjective. If she's having fun walking on the lunge, great! It's nobody's place to judge whether she should progress faster or be having more fun except hers!
                        Exactly. My dd is very similar. She loves horses but is a timid rider to begin with, and took a hard fall last year. She's taking a break from lessons but enjoying our new mini. She also loves to do showmanship, and is going to try to work with the mini on showmanship. She will ride again, but I am not going to push her....she's happy right now. What someone thinks is "fun" is really up to them.

                        That said, if a barn can't manage this kid's "fun" (e.g. the pony is in danger because of her size, they need it for other kids, whatever), then they have to say that and let her find a different place if that is necessary. Definitely should not push her forward to make their schedule more convenient.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is really common with alot of kids, at our barn we have a few who have these issues. I say let her do it in her own time. Let her ride the whittle pony and if all she can do on it is walk due to her size, tell her that. I agree, make her beg to ride something else or she'll die of boredom

                          My daughter happens to be afraid of stoppers. She had a bad experience where she fell off not once by 4 times in a lesson on a very steady eddy pony who suddenly developed a stop. She didn't get hurt and she did learn pretty quick not to jump up the pony's neck, but ever since then she is terrified of a stop. That's her THING... there are other girls at the barn who are terrified of being run away with... that's their THING. My point is, every child is different and at that age, if they started riding young, chances are they had a bad experience at some point that dwells in their memory and is very hard to exercise. They can't be pushed beyond it, but they do need to build up enough positive memories that it fades into the background. Keep trying, keep her on something she's comfortable with and when she is ready, move her to something she's sure to have success on.

                          Sounds like their personal horses are very intimidating to her and I wouldnt recommend her riding them at this time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think the girl needs a serious boost of confidence if indeed she wants to ride and isn't being made to. As others have said, that might mean taking a gigantic step back or two, even back to working on the ground with the new horse before she even gets in the saddle (or is she confident on the ground, just scared in the saddle?).

                            Can you do any lunge lessons with her on the larger pony so she can get used to finding her seat and balance before she even has to worry about cruise control or steering? Walk along side of her as a bit of a security blanket until she realizes "hey, this isn't bad"? Hop on a horse of your own and buddy up for a trail ride or the like?

                            I also agree with those who have said that the girl needs to determine the timeline -- there's a difference between exposing her to new things for the education, but if the pressure is too great....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              It sounds like she is too big for the 11hh pony. If that is the case, you need to put your foot down and tell her she can no longer rider this pony. You need to put your pony's safety ahead of her confidence issues. That said - you let her do what she wants to do. If she doesn't want to go off the line on another pony, keep giving her line lessons. No harm no foul. If she wants to progress then she will. Just tell her any time she wants to do something different to let you know.

                              Forcing her to move on is just going to damage her worse. Especially if her parents are more or less making her want to ride. Keep her on the same pony for the lessons so she begins to trust it. Also have her do some in hand work and help take care of the pony. Eventually if she really does want to ride - she will see kids her age riding all different sized horses and ponies by themselves and will want to try it too. If she doesnt - well she isn't going to be a rider no matter what you do! In that case, spare the poor child the pain and agony!

                              I've always been a confident rider, even after spills. But for some reason I struggled cantering my OTTB mare (I was probably 11yo). I had cantered some on my aunts older QH geldings (no spook, great horses) - but the mare was more forward and I just didn't like it. Eventually I realized if I wanted to show, jump, etc. I just had to canter her! I did it first on a lunge line and once I realized the forward pace wasn't that bad I was cantering her all over the place haha. If I had been pushed harder to do it it probably would not have went as well.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                There are some kids that really do want to ride, but have some serious fears. I know a kid that is very timid, rode a horse pretty lazy horse (she didn't have a a fear of size) the horse could be bratty at times, ie drive bys popping should etc. As time went on this was pretty much the only horse she would ride, on another if they flinched wrong she would cry. On this horse she could w/t/c jump small course (with some drive bys at times). Sometimes we were frustrated with the horse for the drive bys because he knew perfectly well what he should be done (very seasoned horse). Time came along that they decided they wanted to get her a pony. Ok, kid is tiny for her age, and timid. Try several ponies, and many were too forward for her, so focus on finding a very laid back pony, find one that is a cute mover, seemed pretty point in shoot, I rode it, it was easier to make go than the other horse by far. Seems like a great match, but the kid is so timid she has trouble making it do. Looking back the other horse took way more care of her than anyone thought, and the pony saw right through her.
                                My point is some kids are just very timid even though reason and sometimes you just have to let things go slowly and just do what the kid wants and can do.

                                I do like the idea of riding a new horse for a lesson, but she can only walk until she begs for more (although I do know a few kids that would walk for lessons and be fine with it!).
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                                • #17
                                  First off, if she is comfortable on th epony, let her hang out on him for awhile longer. I wouldn't seriously worry until spring because how much riding is she really going to do . If you have a quiet, slightly taller guy, have her help you groom, lead, feed, whatever with him. Confidence on the ground is a wonderful thing. She may surprise you and ask to ride the bigger pony someday. I had a great opportunity to work with the granddaughter of a lady I rode for. She had broken her arm on her evil pony, and was scared to death, which didn't really fly in this family. Once she realized you could love horses, work with horses and be a horseman without ever getting on a horse, it relaxed her to the point she would trot bareback with a halter and a shank on a 4 yo TB mare by the end of the summer.

                                  The pressure adults are putting on this little girl is small compared to the pressure she is puting on herself, I am sure. And I probably wouldn't keep a horse that trotted without being asked as a mount for a timid rider.
                                  Originally posted by The Saddle
                                  Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

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                                  • #18
                                    Speaking from personal experience here; i was rodeo bucked off and broke my nose and ended up with a concussion while only trotting around. I was terrified of riding for about a year and jumping for about 2 after that.

                                    Let her ride the pony until she asks for something else. If pushed to hard verbally or made to ride something I was scared of, I retreated backwards. One step forward and two back.

                                    Let her see how much fun the other kids are having. Let her know you support her and will be paitent. That goes a long way. If she is able to trust you and rely on you, that will be huge and she will probably move faster! Let her know she cant show the pony because she's too big. Maybe that will help. Definitly dont tell her she is going to have to move off the pony soon though because that will probably make her panic and worry. Tell her parents to back off. She will get over it eventually and if she doesnt, thats fine too. Maybe she will like soccer and save her parents a ton of money

                                    She sounds a lot like me.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                                      Exactly. My dd is very similar. She loves horses but is a timid rider to begin with, and took a hard fall last year. She's taking a break from lessons but enjoying our new mini. She also loves to do showmanship, and is going to try to work with the mini on showmanship. She will ride again, but I am not going to push her....she's happy right now. What someone thinks is "fun" is really up to them.

                                      That said, if a barn can't manage this kid's "fun" (e.g. the pony is in danger because of her size, they need it for other kids, whatever), then they have to say that and let her find a different place if that is necessary. Definitely should not push her forward to make their schedule more convenient.
                                      This. I had a VERY pushy trainer (she made her real money taking everyone to shows) and after a few crashes my confidence was SHOT. I really, truly, wanted to ride, I was just terrified. We moved to a Centered Riding trainer who put me on the lunge line on the oldes, slowest mare the program had and worked on getting ME comfortable again. I had to be convinced that when a trainer asked me to try something it wasn't more than I could handle and they were just in a hurry.

                                      And I agree with the comment that the 'dead quiet bomb-proof six-year-old can ride it' horse trotting off without being told isn't acceptable and ISN'T in fact dead quiet. Not to her.
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                                      • #20
                                        DO NOT PUSH the child to do anything. She has fears that need to be adressed. Let her go at her own pace. I know how I would feel if someone tried to push me into doing things I was afraid to do. To push her on will turn her off. Totally.
                                        If they have unsuitable horses for the child then do not encourage her to ride them.
                                        Her fears might be well founded. Don't make light of them.
                                        Let her ride the 11 hand pony until she chooses to go on to a bigger pony or to a horse she likes.
                                        I had someone push me into jumping when i did not have the skills to do so. I was not prepared to "Move with the horse". I was behind the horse and had falls because of it. So I do not jump today because I still am behind the horse. Besides that I am 64 and do not bounce like I did at 18.
                                        Let this girl go at her own speed.
                                        JMHO
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