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My Daughter wants to take a break!

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  • My Daughter wants to take a break!

    My 7 (just turned last week) year old daughter has not been riding long, almost a year, but she has been taking lessons twice a week. I think riding for an hour in the cold weather is getting to her, because she asked to stop taking lessons until the spring.

    While I confess I don't love going out to the barn, helping her catch the pony, tack him up, and then standing around for an hour in the cold, then untack, blanket, and turn him out, I love going out and spending time with her, and I love "barn time" (even though I haven't been on a horse in 15 years)!

    Also, I feel a bit obligated with respect to the trainer, we have discussed leasing this pony (though he can be used in her lesson program, since he is a packer) in preparation for showing short stirrup this spring and summer.


  • #2
    Strike a compromise to ride once a week until the cold breaks?


    • #3
      Hopefully this does not come across as rude, but your obligation is to your daughter, NOT her trainer. Let her stop until spring and reassess then. Kiddo is 7 -- twice a week for an hour may be a little much for her attention span just yet, especially in the cold.

      In the meantime, there are lots of ways to get "barn time" without the barn.
      According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


      • #4
        Why would you pay for a lease on a pony your daughter doesn't want to ride?
        If you've only discussed it with your trainer and not made a commitment or signed a lease, I would think it would be fine to wait until Spring and then re-approach the issue.

        Maybe also explain to your daughter that if she wants to show the pony in the Spring she needs to keep riding in the Winter. If she doesn't want to ride that is okay...it just might mean she won't get to show the pony right away (or at all with that specific mount.)

        How much does she want to ride when she is riding? Is showing something she is really excited to do? Without sounding presumptuous, is it possible you want her to show more than she wants to?

        Again, you know the situation! Maybe she is completely horse crazy and just very cold (that was me!) but from your post it sounds like she isn't the one who is most pushing to lease and show.


        • #5
          My two cents.
          This sport is way too expensive to keep doing it without some enjoyment. Maybe she will go a couple of weeks and then miss riding and start again. Whatever the case I wouldn't force it, she might get over it completely and not go back.

          I like the idea of explaining she can't show straight away without riding through winter.


          • #6
            I look at this 2 ways. One, is the same as what other's have said, if she doesn't enjoy it enough right now let her have a break till it warms up then try again.
            But Two, when I was young (10 yrs old) and started riding after a little while I kept making an excuse to not go. I was sick, or tired, or whatever. I made these excuses cause I was a bit nervous about riding and wanted to wimp out, after a couple weeks my mom 'made' me go. I was still a bit nervous (even tho the school horses were good reliable horses and I wasn't being pushed too hard), but I quickly got over my nervousness in a short while and so glad I did. 15 years later and I am still riding and competing and reaching my goals in riding and couldn't imagine a life without horses!


            • #7
              Originally posted by ElisLove View Post
              I look at this 2 ways. One, is the same as what other's have said, if she doesn't enjoy it enough right now let her have a break till it warms up then try again.
              But Two, when I was young (10 yrs old) and started riding after a little while I kept making an excuse to not go. I was sick, or tired, or whatever. I made these excuses cause I was a bit nervous about riding and wanted to wimp out, after a couple weeks my mom 'made' me go. I was still a bit nervous (even tho the school horses were good reliable horses and I wasn't being pushed too hard), but I quickly got over my nervousness in a short while and so glad I did. 15 years later and I am still riding and competing and reaching my goals in riding and couldn't imagine a life without horses!

              I have huge issues with self discipline sometimes because when I was a kid every time I said I wanted a break my parents let me have my way. I was never really made to do things I didn't want to do. Things like that are extremely valuable for kids. Cut back as a compromise maybe, but stop completely no. Kids need to learn how to commit to stuff. They can fall out and be flaky about hobbies when they're older.


              • #8
                If the kid is griping about the cold rather than complaining about lack of interest, consider doing a full audit of what she's wearing to the barn. I find that most folks who drop off the radar from January to March are trying to wear their regular riding clothes to the barn, perhaps with a layer of long underwear under it--or at most, they've bought a pair of polar fleece breeches without any wind protection built in. This is doubly true for new riders. I wouldn't be caught dead in the barn this time of year without Cuddl' Duds long underwear + Wind Pro fleece head to toe, SmartWool socks, Roeckl Chester fleece-lined riding gloves, etc.
                Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ladyfreckles View Post
                  Kids need to learn how to commit to stuff. They can fall out and be flaky about hobbies when they're older.
                  I totally get this, BUT I feel like horse back riding needs to be the exception. Its just too expensive and risky to be worth it if the kid is completely uninterested (at least in my opinion.)

                  Make your kid hang onto soccer as long as you want for commitment's sake, but don't throw $$$ away on a lease and shows.

                  Even if the kid is nervous, stopping or cutting back can make them miss the sport. That is what helped me overcome my nerves when I was younger - it sure wasn't my trainer yelling at me to "OUTSIDE LEG AND JUST CANTER"


                  • #10
                    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.


                    • #11
                      Mommy & Me lesson?

                      Ride with her. Do it once a week and tell trainer it needs to be games/fun.

                      If your kid doesn't want to ride or is content with the occasional good weather ride, count your blessings you're finding out now instead of after you have a critter to re-home. Many good programs won't even teach to 7 year olds.

                      You can get barn time volunteering at a rescue/SPCA.


                      • #12
                        My niece went through a phase like this just last year (when she was 6, had been riding since she was 2). She actually stuck it out through the cold winter but wanted to take a break in the spring. We opted to let her take a month off (she only rode once a week). Opportunity presented itself to try riding with a different trainer, and this truly made all the difference. The trainer she was riding with did an excellent job with her, however, my niece wasn't in a group lesson program (there was really only one true lesson pony at this barn and pony was used for multiple lessons in a row on lesson days). Pony was also very difficult to keep going due to the multiple lessons, and I think my niece just got tired of the work involved for lack of fun and social life at the barn.

                        She now rides at a different barn with other kids (older than her) in her lessons. The trainer does a very good job of integrating her into the lesson, even though she is only jumping cross rails and the other kids are jumping 2' courses. She loves riding and asks about her lesson weekly. We are considering leasing for her in the summer.

                        The first trainer did a great job with her, however, I think it was a combination of a dead to the crop and leg lesson pony, riding alone, and not having any friends at the barn that really made her not want to ride. Now, she is still the youngest at the barn, but she really enjoys her lessons. She is much more excited to ride when she is not the only one riding in the lesson. She also appreciates that the new trainer incorporates some very very basic "vaulting" into her lesson, which makes it more fun. (changing seat, sitting forward, then facing backward, walking the pony while sitting backward, and, yes, she can actually do a back flip to dismount from her pony.) THIS is fun to her. Here is an example of what she does at the end of her lesson:


                        This is from the summer, so she is doing much more now, but she always asks about "doing some vaulting" and can actually flip off the pony by herself now. Part of this may come from having an old fashioned European trainer.

                        Ride with her. Do it once a week and tell trainer it needs to be games/fun.
                        THIS is exactly spot on.


                        • #13
                          She is seven and it's cold. Take a break!

                          I know of a barn in this area that has a lot of young riders closes down from Thanksgiving to February. It's cold, kids are on vacation, and it's more work than it's worth for the trainer to try to teach beginner riders at that time. Probably some of the kids drop out of the program, but the ones that enjoy it come back. (And, the older kids still ride if they are interested)

                          Some barns don't even take 7 year olds. I hardly think you will ruin her career or her "self-discipline" for life by letting her take a break. And I fully agree with those that say this sport is too dangerous and too expensive unless you love it.

                          Also, my younger dd had a fall a couple of years ago; didn't want to ride with current trainer again...changed trainers and eventually quit. I let her. She was afraid, and pushing her wasn't going to change that. A year later, she wanted to get back into riding - her decision, not mine, and she is happy to ride again.

                          We are lucky because riding is a lifelong sport, not just a "school-aged" sport like gymnastics and soccer for most kids. If they love it, they can ride for their entire life. That is my goal as a parent, not making them competitive as kids.

                          And agreed - you have no obligation to the trainer. If they've taught more than 3 kids in their lives, they will not be shocked that a 7 year old wants a break in the dead of winter.


                          • #14
                            Your daughter is 7. I know of a Barn that will not take kids until they are 10.

                            I think the giving her an explanation of why she can't show if she doesn't ride now is valid.

                            But Frankly, I have heard that younger kids don't do well in handling the cold, they seem to get chillier quicker, maybe low body fat?

                            However, my daughter, who has a horse, won't ride in the cold. I hate the cold she says and so her boy gets a break! LOL


                            • #15
                              I can remember playing in the snow when I was seven, but I remember wearing fluorescent neon down jacket, snow pants, insulated boots, layers, hat and gloves...etc...

                              It's hard to layer like that and still ride, esp in little kid sizes.

                              She is either a. cold, or b. not interested, and using the cold as an excuse. Have you asked her straight out if it's the cold or the riding? I'm an adult and I don't like riding in the cold, it's miserable. Or stomping around in the frozen mud, undoing blankets with frozen fingers, etc. If I didn't love the sport and my horse, I flat wouldn't do it.
                              COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                              "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                              • #16
                                I'd let her take a break. She's seven. It's expensive. 2ce a week is a lot for the average kid. I know you like the barn time with her, but if she is not enjoying it, she will not look back as fondly on these times. I bet when the weather gets nice, she'll be back!!
                                Come to the dark side, we have cookies


                                • #17
                                  If the temps go below 28 degrees, I do not teach kids (12 or so and under) unless they beg to ride, and then it will be what I call a "power lesson" where we are very intense for a shorter time. Kids just can't deal with the cold as well as an older person, even when they want to and spend more time thinking of how cold they are instead of riding their horse. I agree that you should ask your daughter if it is the cold or lack of interest and then give her the option of not riding if the temps drop below what is comfortable for her. Invest in winter riding boots, breeches, and gloves for even those "chilly" days!


                                  • #18
                                    First, forget about feeling obligated to the trainer just because you were talking about leasing the pony. For now, feel good that you have not signed a lease yet. Or bought a pony. You are obligation-free.

                                    Your daughter just turned 7. At this age she can be exploring many different activities, hobbies, sports, etc. She doesn't have to stick to just one. It does sound from your OP that it's not an issue of not wanting to ride, though, just not wanting to ride in the cold?

                                    My daughter "took a break" from riding once, at a very young age (5). Her original excuse was that it was too far to drive to the lessons (it was six miles). The break lasted about six months and as soon as she started up again she became more serious about riding and owning a pony of her own. She also switched disciplines/barns (her request, based on "reading" Young Rider magazine) so maybe besides the cold, you might want to find out if your daughter is really enjoying what she does in her lessons. At that age it's hard for them to know what all is out there, they know they love horses, love riding... but maybe the specific discipline or trainer isn't clicking with her.


                                    • #19
                                      My 10 yr old has... done soccer, karate, guitar, gymnastics. All lesson programs that I paid for and took him to. Sometimes it is frustrating to me because of the financial and emotional commitmemt I make to the program only to have him lose interest at some point - usually 6 months to a year. The latest thing he is going to start is piano. Typically he shows a strong interest, practices the thing on his own, watches videos about it on youtube, begs me for lessons, bugs me for lessons, and then eventually I relent. Only to have him want to quit after a period of time. Bugs me and concerns me. But, while reading your post and all the responses, it occurred to me, maybe this isn't such a bad thing. I am raising a renaisance man. A well rounded individual. Reminds me that as a child, I did ice skating, tennis, gymnastics, riding, volleyball - all with passion for a period of time. I wanted my son to pick a sport or subject and stick with it probably because I want him to be really good at something. Instead, he has experience and a passible level of competency at many things. As I said, maybe not bad after all!


                                      • #20
                                        I've started many small children on their riding careers.

                                        I'm all for teaching responsibility and horsemanship along with the saddle time, but practicality dictates that to optimize the experience of learning to ride for young children, it has to stay 'fun.'

                                        Little riders have to be physically comfortable--little kids who are too cold (or too hot) will not have fun. And there is a safety factor to consider when little bodies can't function well because of physical discomfort.

                                        In addition, any activity that small kids take part in, including riding, has to be accomplished within the limits of their attention span, or they will become bored. The routine you describe sounds like a lot of work for relatively little reward in the mind of a 7 yo.

                                        I favor a more streamlined routine for lessons, so the fun is front-loaded into the equation...opt for a higher level of service during the school year and have the pony tacked already so that when you arrive your daughter sees "fun" and not "work." And, she won't have time to get cold.

                                        Save the "bonding with pony-time" for weekends, vacations, and summer-time pony camp so she can have an immersive experience where horsemanship skills can be learned in the company of same-age/skill-level friends.

                                        Sounds like you are missing your own barn time. If you can, why not take it up again yourself, and enjoy it for it's own sake? If your daughter keeps riding (don't force the issue!) you will have plenty of good times to share later on...if she doesn't, you are doing something you like yourself.

                                        Even it turns out you might have some separate interests, a happy mom + happy daughter = happy times, no matter what else you find to do together.
                                        Inner Bay Equestrian