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Teaching young, very young children.

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  • Teaching young, very young children.

    We have a small farm that we specialize in teaching young children to ride. We mainly have 4,5, and 6 year olds as our students. With their age, we have learned a million different things to do to allow the kids to learn the most they possibly can, and have fun doing it!

    Any suggestions for other ways we can teach these children? Currently we have a routine down with the new ones, we play simon says, red light green light, have an obstacle course set up, yoga on horse back (child version and so many other ideas we use.

    Also, need help with one of our little girls because she learned a bad habit and now I am having trouble breaking it. She has learned to rock to post, what I mean is that she is pushing her leg forward when she sits the post, and when she rises her leg goes back, like a rocking motion. So it is looking very much like she is posting on her butt. We have tried what seems like everything, so any suggestions would be appreciated! Only thing that seems to work is tying her stirrups to the girth with twine, but she also shows leadline so I have to cut that before she shows and she goes right back to her 'rocking' position. Thanks for any help!

  • #2
    Good for you!

    First of all - good for you for teaching the little ones. Hard to find good places that do that. My suggestion is for the rocking post. I would say, put a cantle riser pad under the saddle (as long as it won't harm the horse's back regarding saddle fit). By lifting the cantle, the child can't get into that chair position with leg out front and weight heavy on buttocks. Good luck!


    • Original Poster

      We love the little ones and wouldn't have it any other way. People are usually very impressed with what our kids know considering how young they are.

      Funny Story: We had our 5 year old leadliner at a show and the judge comes over and points to the saddle and asks her what she was pointing to, (expecting the word saddle), however our little girl says to the judge, you are pointing to the Pommel. haha. So cute! The judge was floored!!

      Thanks so much for the suggestion! Definitely going to look into buying a cantle riser! Sounds like a great option!


      • #4
        Years ago when I used to teach, I would only have short riding lessons with longer horse care (brushing/grooming) sessions and other horse related subjects. A lot of the time, the child had "homework". I would have horse outlines drawn and ask the kids to color them in of the color of the lesson horses for the next lesson. Kids and parents all loved that. And we all know parents have to be just as happy with your lessons as the kids. Good luck


        • #5
          The little ones can be a lot of fun to teach! For your rocker, how about take away the stirrups all together? It sounds like she's pushing off of her stirrup to post, instead of using her leg. If you take away the stirrup, she would have to learn how to post correctly, instead of relying on the stirrup.
          Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch


          • #6
            We have a LOT of little kids at my barn too.. a fun game they seem to like when they are learning how to steer (still on a lunge line) is they have to maintain their circle and NOT let the lunge line hit the ground. the kids get SO in to it and really focus! its cute


            • #7
              If you can, teach her to two point. That'll make her leg a little stronger, and hopefully keep it still.

              Or, teach her to stand straight up for one stride (at the walk). That way, she won't be swinging her upper body forward, and bringing the leg back. The little kids my trainer teaches think it's fun to see who can stand up the longest, and it actually gets them out of the saddle.

              Another thing the kids like was getting some of that orange marker stuff (you know, like you'd tie around a rod sticking out of the ground, or a tree you want cut down), putting them in pairs, and seeing who can go the longest without breaking it. I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to teach them, but they love it.

              Little kids are so cute. One of the little girls came up to me one time and said "Ms. CM, guess what my dog did this morning! She pooped out six puppies!" I almost died it was so adorable!


              • #8
                You can try "trick" riding game: ask her to move one leg forward towards the horse's shoulder, the other bent at the knee up towards the pad, then slowly and smoothly switch. "bicycle" with your legs while riding. Ride standing in the stirrups, stand up in the stirrups for 2-3 strides (push off the neck or grab strap) then sit down for 2-3 strides and try to keep the legs in one spot. Once she learns those "tricks" you can add the hands - raise 'em, "airplane", in front, etc. All this should help her find "the " right position of her leg and help stabilize her seat and leg.

                I am slowly introducing my coming 2yr old daughter to riding and it is so surprising what she finds interesting. Just when I think she is comfortable with something (cause she asks to get off when she is done) I come to find out that she has been asking to get off due to boredom. I had backed up the horse she was sitting on, and she thought it was GREAT, she Only wanted to go backwards the rest of her 3min ride - go figure.

                Best of luck with your student.
                Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for all the great advice! I replied earlier and now it is gone, so I here goes again!

                  Winberry: We do the exact same thing and I absolutely LOVE it. We require our students to take part in a 6 wk pony club where they learn basics like grooming, batheing, horse craft, basic riding or even driving insturction (learn the steering and rein position without having to worry about the rest of their body!) They also do basic worksheets and other fun games that teach them about horses. We have a blast with it and the kids do too! I think I am definitely going to bring the pony club aspect to the riding lessons like you do by having them have "homework" etc. I think it is soo important for them to learn not just how to ride, but about the horse too (which in a lot of barns around me anyway, seems to be lacking now a days.)

                  Timex: This little girl I am talking about who is my rocker, she is 5 and very short legs. I took her stirrups away last night and while she did ok, it definitely was a little scary at times. She didn't get anywhere close to posting with no stirrups. I guess if I keep at it she may in time be able to start posting without them. You are exactly right though, she is posting by relying on her stirrups, the frustrating part is that she never did that before, but she now can not figure out how to get back to the way she use to do it.

                  Jump_lv That sounds like a game my little ones will definitely enjoy! They always seem to love games where they are timed, or can't let something happen. They are always so serious about it too!


                  • Original Poster

                    Two more to respond to:

                    Coppers mom:
                    We do a ton of 2point and she is quite good at it. Whats hard for her at the shows is when they ask for 2 point and she wants to do it right away instead of taking 10 seconds to shorten her reins before she goes up into it. I also do the standing up and counting with them/her and they love that!

                    The orange marker pairs game sounds great! Definitely going to try that, we have a game day coming up and that might be a great thing to do! Your puppy story is adorable!!! The little ones are the greatest, they come up with some funny stories!!

                    MZM Farm: Heard someone else tell me about the bicycle riding. Will definitely try that too now that I heard how to do it. She has done the standing up and I will keep doing that, hopefully her leg will get stronger and then she will stop relying on it. SOOO funny about your daughter liking the backwards riding, they are always surprising us!


                    • #11
                      Here are some other games I did with my son when he was about that age:

                      Mr. Wolf (with apologies to misunderstood wolves everywhere)

                      The wolf stand at the end of the ring, back to the riders. The riders say "What time is it Mr. Wolf". The wolf says a time "Three o'clock" and the riders try to make their pony take only three steps. This continues with the wolf saying different times until they are very close then at some point the wolf replies "Dinner time" turns around and tries to catch one of the ponies.

                      Shape searchers ( with apologies to Blues Clues)
                      You can do this with little lead liners, you lead the pony in a shape and they guess what shape you are making. Once they get more confident they direct the pony into a pattern of a shape and the handler has to guess what the shape is.

                      On the lunge we have done airplane arms, Simon Says (put one hand on your helmet...etc), around the world. My son also really liked riding backwards for some reason. (He likes doing things differently than everyone else..)

                      So glad to hear of people who like teaching the little ones...


                      • #12
                        I have two little girls who have been riding since they could walk and here's what works for the swinging leg.

                        My youngest rode for this entire winter with her stirrups tied because she was having the same issue with a swinging leg, so you are absolutely on the right track. It's caused by them just not gripping with their leg, so you also need to add, with the stirrups tied, more two point at the trot than either of you can stand and then sitting trot without stirrups on the lunge. She won't be able to post at the trot until she gets really strong, but just sitting will build some serious strength. My youngest has amazing balance, so she could ride just fine and stay right in the middle with her leg swinging, and I'll bet your student is probably the same way.

                        If it's an option for you, I'd tell her she can't show until she tightens her leg.

                        After a winter of hard work, my daughter, who just turned 6, is now cantering courses of crossrails.

                        Here are some pics.