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Peeps Who Teach Little Kids, Can You Check In Please? A Question

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  • Peeps Who Teach Little Kids, Can You Check In Please? A Question

    Preface: I don't teach small children!

    LMEqT had her first lesson w/her new instructor yesterday. For the most part, it went fine. I have a question tho' -

    Her lessons are 1/2 hour long as she is only 6 years old. I had confirmed when I began taking her there that she would not be expected to tack up as she is 1) 6 and 2) her lesson is only a half an hour. I wanted to be sure her time would be spent riding.

    Yesterday she was told by her new instructor that it was her responsibility to check all of her tack and adjust it herself. She is not physically capable of this, and even w/assistance it took a good 10 minutes, maybe more.

    Now.. I *know* that this is something that she has to learn to do, and I *know* that a lot of kids are snobby about this and think it is the "helps" job to do so. That is not the case here; she DOES take care of her own pony at home (who is a medium and appropriate for her to handle); she is responsible for quite a bit of her daily care and she does halter her and bring her in/out by herself. She can bridle her w/help and she grooms herself with help and she gets her saddle and pads but I saddle her pony.

    My point is, I don't think LMEqT is at risk for becoming a spoiled hunter princess who doesn't know how to tack her own horse. I do think that at this age her lessons should be about riding not doing things she is not physically capable of doing on a large pony. I do not want a third of her lessons spent on things she can/will learn at home.

    I also feel I should mention that she is a model student; she listens carefully, does what she is told to do, is respectful and takes her lessons very seriously. So she struggled with trying to tighten a girth that was above her head, etc. etc.

    Now.. because I teach, I respect that this person has their own teaching program. I can understand that with older kids having longer lessons, particularly kids who do not own their own horses/live on a farm, that learning to tack properly is very important. How should I diplomatically approach this? I don't want to start off on the wrong hoof but nor do I want to continue like this...

    thoughts?
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

  • #2
    Not an instructor, but the BO teaches very beginners.

    She tacks up for them, but they are expected to do a "safety check" before every ride and call her attention to anything out of order. I suspect that as they progress, she sometimes leaves things for them to find.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick

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    • #3
      I think you need to wait a little until the instructor gets a feel for your child's attention span and has first hand experience with your child's knowledge and practices. Although it is probably different with you, the instructor is probably acting from experience with lots of the rest of us parents who represent our kids as something they are not - better or worse.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible

      Comment


      • #4
        Is your daughter the only one who is expected to check her tack? If so, talk to the trainer. If not, either get to the barn early enough that the tack can be checked prior to the lesson, or find another place for your daughter to ride.

        Comment


        • #5
          Shouldn't eat into the half-hour

          Sure, but I am hoping the 1/2 hour starts running once your daughter is mounted! All lesson times at the barn we ride at start once you are mounted and riding.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree, try to get to the lesson and tack up prior to your lesson- when she's getting on the pony- say something to your child in front of the instructor, such as-"Have a good lesson, see you in half an hour." And make sure the instructor sees you look at your watch to check the time..lol
            If the lesson only goes for 20 mins-say, "Wow, that was a quick lesson" and look at your watch again. "I thought her lesson was supposed to be 30 mins?" .....

            Comment


            • #7
              My youngest is six and she needs a LOT of help. She can't physically reach to put the saddle on properly nor the bridle on her small pony. She can put the reins over the head, roll up stirrups, and help groom.

              Honestly.....I think this might be a red flag if the trainer is making a blanket statement that all kids have to do this. Six year olds aren't strong enough or tall enough to tack up. They need assistance every step of the way. Six is young to be handling a 700 lb plus animal.

              I would also take 80's rider's advice and be sure the lesson is 30 minutes or *almost* 30 minutes. And I would try to get there early enough that your daughter can try to groom and tack up with your help.

              Comment


              • #8
                The little ones are my favorites to teach

                For most of my students they need to arrive before the lesson times to tack up, but obviously you have to make some exceptions.

                I will usually have the horse ready for the ones that are too small so that they can start on time. I make it clear to the parents that the student will eventually be responsible for the grooming, tacking, etc. Every once in a while I will schedule the student to have a barn lesson instead of a riding lesson so they can start to hone those skills, but I usually try to reserve that for rainy days rather than having to cancel altogether. I also really encourage them to send the child to our camps during the summer for a week or two, when we have plenty of time to practice ground lessons and they can really get it down.

                If I have a student, regardless of age, that I am not sure can tack up alone, I either make sure that I am available in the barn to check on things or that I have an assistant in the barn helping.

                Once they are past the begining point though, I am a stickler for being punctual and ready to start on time. If you get on at the right time, but spend 10 minutes adjusting your stirrups and tightening your girth, you are probably only going to ride for 20 minutes. If your horse has shavings in his tail, you will be sent in to finishing cleaning.

                Comment


                • #9
                  if you are paying for half hour lessons. . . .I would expect that time to
                  start once the child was in the arena and the lesson actually started.
                  Teaching a student to tack up is all well and good, but most people
                  go to lesson for -riding- instruction. I'd be upset if a third of the time
                  was taken up by asking a six year old to check and adjust her own
                  tack. . . . .my daughter is also six, and she would not be able to
                  do most adjustments on tack at all on anything but a very
                  tiny pony and even then a lot of the buckles would be too
                  stiff for her to operate.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                    Her lessons are 1/2 hour long as she is only 6 years old. I had confirmed when I began taking her there that she would not be expected to tack up as she is 1) 6 and 2) her lesson is only a half an hour. I wanted to be sure her time would be spent riding. I do think that at this age her lessons should be about riding not doing things she is not physically capable of doing on a large pony. I do not want a third of her lessons spent on things she can/will learn at home.

                    I also feel I should mention that she is a model student; she listens carefully, does what she is told to do, is respectful and takes her lessons very seriously. So she struggled with trying to tighten a girth that was above her head, etc. etc.
                    When the lesson technically begins (when mounted, on arrival, when the clock strikes 3, etc.) is highly variable by barn.

                    When I taught...a 30 minute lesson was 29 minutes in the saddle- horse already tacked and waiting for you- and the lesson starting on the clock. Riders dismounted at minute 29...payment made at minute 30. On to the next lesson/kid. The BO was a business woman and the business did very well.

                    Some younger kids, ADHD kids, autistic kids...couldn't handle 29 minutes of riding initially. At that point, we typically added grooming and tacking as an extra diversion. I had a couple of 3 and 4 yos who LOVED grooming and tacking- maybe more than riding and with discussion with parents...and the fact that I thought they were incredibly young anyway...mom and dad agreed that this was okay. For them it was more about the 30 minute "experience."

                    When young riders developed the attention span to ride for the full 30 minutes, most did- or moved to 60 minute lessons with 15 tack, 30 ride, 15 untack and cool.

                    It sounds like you specifically want your child to have riding time only. If you discussed this with the instructor ahead of time, I would wait until lesson #2 to address it. This is simply because the instructor may have used lesson #1 to gauge how much your child already knows as well as to evaluate things like attention span and general appropriateness around horses. After 1 lesson, the instructor should have a good feel for the child and be able to move forward with the riding if your daughter has the maturity to handle it. (It sounds like she does)

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I guess I should mention that the pony is already groomed/tacked and ready for her to lead out when she gets there. The *concept* is there and in the past has worked perfectly - and her old instructor *showed* her what she was doing, as far as tightening the girth, checking the stirrup length, etc. so she was learning what to do before you get on. But she did not expect her to actually do it herself. That was the big difference, she was told she was expected to check it herself and then make adjustments, tighten the girth, in this case adjust a martingale, do her stirrups - all things she does need to learn to do - but is not physically capable of doing yet.

                      It did leave me wondering if her new instructor knows what a six year old actually can and cannot do.. perhaps she taught mostly older kids.

                      Great replies everyone, thank you so much, lots to think about!
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      ---
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree that it sounds like the new teacher is not familiar with working with small children. Adjusting a martingale is asking a little much, much less ensuring that she chooses an optimum stirrup length.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I teach small children I expect them to "help" with grooming and tacking, they can put the girth on the off side with some help and I have them "tighten the girth" except I hold the ends of the billets and help them pull. As far as length of lessons, I go the amount of time I feel is warranted for the lesson, ability, attention span, and what i wish to accomplish for that session not the amount of time. I think a 3 - 5 minute "lets go over everything" would not be out of the way, and basically have instructor say "what do you think we should check before riding today". More of a quiz than child actually doing it. I have taught many 5 and 6 yr olds and modify my lessons for those ages accordingly.
                          www.shawneeacres.net

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Not an instructor at all, but another horsey mom who also helps our littler kids at the barn and has helped with a camp as well.

                            IMHO, 6 is too young for a kid to be even adjusting by themselves. They can check a girth, put stirrups up, put a girt on the off side by themselves at that age. With help, they can probably fasten/unfasten buckles on a bridle (if the leather is soft enough), fasten a curb chain, put the pad on the pony, carry the tack to the pony and a few other things. They have neither the strength or the fine motor skills to do much of the work at that age. DD is a tall, strong 7 year old, and just began to put her saddle on her pony - but now that she's moved on to a horse, guess what I get to do again.

                            We do expect kids of any age to help with their horses - they can brush (although we often do the top half because they can't reach), pick out a foot that is held if the horse is cooperative, maybe comb a tail. They carry what they're capable of - usually the girth/bridle/pad. If the horse poops, they have to help clean it up & carry it outside to the dumpster.
                            A proud friend of bar.ka.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I would say something if it happens again. Maybe mention that you feel 30 minutes is too short of a time frame for a child that age to have to check all of her tack. Maybe the instructor is not used to working with kids that small?
                              If you love me let me go....

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                                When I teach small children I expect them to "help" with grooming and tacking, they can put the girth on the off side with some help and I have them "tighten the girth" except I hold the ends of the billets and help them pull. As far as length of lessons, I go the amount of time I feel is warranted for the lesson, ability, attention span, and what i wish to accomplish for that session not the amount of time. I think a 3 - 5 minute "lets go over everything" would not be out of the way, and basically have instructor say "what do you think we should check before riding today". More of a quiz than child actually doing it. I have taught many 5 and 6 yr olds and modify my lessons for those ages accordingly.
                                This is what I do. Each child is so different at that age that usually the first lesson is spent evaluating their attention span, ability, etc. Even my 9 year old students are barely physically capable of checking that stuff, I certainly don't expect a 6 year old to be able to do it!
                                A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I taught little ones for years. Personally, I find that 1/2 hour in the saddle is too long for the average six-year-old. I suppose that for a kid who's grown up with a trainer for a parent it's a little different. I would guess that the new trainer generally spends time doing more basic stuff (i.e. brushing, "this is the bridle, the bit goes in the mouth" speech) with total beginners at this age for 10 minutes out of the half-hour (that's what I always did), and maybe thinks that because your daughter already knows that the saddle pad goes under the saddle and not over it, she should be moving on to more advanced tasks that are apparently over her head. Personally, I'd be focusing more on riding time with a six-year-old that had some riding experience...or I'd use that ground time to do the "quiz" others have mentioned, or go over things like identifying parts of the horse rather than expecting the kid to do things she's not yet strong/tall/coordinated enough to do.

                                  Is there not a good lesson program in your area that focuses on little kids?
                                  Please don't sabotash my conchess.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by KristiKGC View Post
                                    Each child is so different at that age that usually the first lesson is spent evaluating their attention span, ability, etc.
                                    And ditto on this. I've had six-year-olds that were posting the trot in their first lesson, and six-year-olds that could barely sit balanced in the saddle at a standstill. I have found that between ages 6 and 9 there is LOT of difference in both physical coordination and attention span from one child to another.
                                    Please don't sabotash my conchess.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My lessons are in half hour blocks one following the other and I use the same horse for an hours worth of lessons. When I have a 6 year old, I use the horse in the lesson before, so that when one rider gets off, the 6 year old just has to hop up, and I adjust stirrups.

                                      They ride the whole half hour and depending on the physical and mental maturity of the student we may spend a lot of time w/t in hand or w/t on the longe.

                                      Because of the way my lessons are scheduled (not by me, by the director) if the student would like to do grooming/horse care, it has to be a part of the half an hour. If the child repeatedly asks me, I will talk to their parents about it first, because I would feel jipped if I were the parent and saw my kid get off 10 minutes early.

                                      Sometimes if I am lucky I have a barn rat around and the horse is done after that lesson. If that is the case, then the child can stay on the whole time and one of the girls will help them groom.
                                      Last edited by AllyandPete; Jan. 10, 2010, 09:32 PM. Reason: it didnt make sense haha
                                      I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
                                      My new blog about my Finger Lakes Finest:
                                      She Ain't No Small Potato!

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                                      • #20
                                        I like them to give it a try......

                                        My very first private with a child that age would be to get them straight on the pony and see what they know and can do and if their attention will hold the whole 1/2 hour.

                                        After that I might go about having them attempt to due their stirrups and girth.

                                        I certainly have 6 year olds that I have ride in group classes. If they are big enough to ride Walk trot and canter in a group for an hour they are big enough to give it a try. I always readjust after they get on, and double check the girth. I am also right there to help if they need it but I do require them to try.

                                        Do I expect them to actually be able to do it? No. But I think it instills a good habit of always trying before you say I can't (which is a forbidden word when you ride with me

                                        I find often that parents expect to little of there children. Or rather always want them to experience success. I am not saying this is you I'm just saying a great deal of my parents feel this way.

                                        As far as time. 5mins tops should be used in a private for adjustments before you step in as an instructor and get things organized. then the lesson runs till the very end of that 30 mins or maybe 5 mins to the end for the little ones. I use this time to have them cool their horses out but they are often doing something like posting at the walk with out their stirrups. Again they are on and working till their 1/2 hour is up either way.

                                        For groups it may take 10 mins to get all 6 riders on and totally adjusted for the little ones. My advanced (walk trot canter+ ) get out 5 mins early and get adjusted so they are on when class starts. At the end of every group they have 10 mins to cool out and leave the arena. sometimes I go over things that they need to work on, talk to parents and answer questions, sometimes they ride bareback. Other times I simply let them wander around talking to one another.

                                        grooming and tacking are done before class. Most that are canter students arrive 1/2 hour early to get their horses ready. All jump students are required to. But again grooming, tacking, untacking, and rubbing down are after the hour is up.

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