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My daughter's riding (and lack thereof)

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  • My daughter's riding (and lack thereof)

    Hi all. This is a difficult topic for me to post, but my husband and I have really been struggling with it for some time. I'm hoping somebody might lend some good insight or advice.

    I have ridden and shown h/j for almost 30 years. Horses are my passion and probably always will be. When I had two daughters, I hoped that one of them would share my love of horses. The younger one made it abundantly clear that it would NOT be her! But my older daughter, now 11, was game enough to give it a shot.

    She started taking lessons, at my behest, about four years ago. It was only once a week in a western saddle. But as it goes with horses, she got more involved quickly. She's now full leasing a nice pony and showing in the young entry (crossrails). She schools the SS height at home.

    When you full lease a pony, it's essentially the same as owning. We talked about this. It means that you take care of the pony, you take care of your tack, and you ride 3-4 times/week minimum. She agreed.

    But here's the thing: she's never REALLY been into it. She's not horse crazy at all. She never asks to go riding -- I have to tell her. When we're at the barn, she's out to lunch. She still can't tack up properly. She's lazy about grooming. She still forgets pony's boots,her helmet, etc and shows up at the ring unprepared. When she untacks, she forgets to put stuff away. She'll wander off to play with cats and frogs while I wrap the pony. She complains about early mornings for shows (and yet she wants to go to the shows). She doesn't listen in lessons. She doesn't ride the pony enough -- I'm having to ride him myself 1-2x/week. Have I talked to her about it? Of course!! But it never seems to stick. It's not like I'm forcing this on her....it's her choice! And for those of you pondering if she has ADD, autism, etc....she does not.

    I don't need to tell you all that this sport is expensive. I don't even want to say how much I'm spending on her riding annually. It feels like a total waste. But every time we ask her if she wants to keep riding, she says yes. In my personal opinion, we should move her to a schooling barn where she can take one lesson a week on a schoolie. This will upset her; I guarantee it.

    Bottom line: she's spending our money and her childhood doing something she's not crazy about. She just doesn't see it that way. Where do we go from here?

    P.S. I know that I'm "enabling" her by helping her tack up, care for pony, constant reminders, etc....but if I don't, he won't be cared for properly. I can't do that to him.

    P.P.S. For all of you saying "let her quit"....I'd like that! But she says that she wants to keep riding!
    Last edited by gertie06; Aug. 29, 2019, 08:25 PM.

  • #2
    To me it sounds like your daughter is doing horses to please you, not for love of the animal or sport.
    I find that incredibly unselfish for a kid her age & especially for a pre-teen who could be distancing herself from you gross Old People as is the norm.

    You say you ask if she wants to "keep riding".
    Have you ever asked if she'd like to take a break, or quit entirely?
    Let her know that riding is for her happiness, not yours & that you will in no way be disappointed if she chooses to move away from horses.

    Re: the above, I sincerely hope that is the case & you are not sending subtle signals that her involvement with horses is your passion.

    She sounds like a good kid.
    Maybe not the Horse Crazy you hoped for, but her own person.

    Hope you can gracefully end the lease on the pony
    If not, be sure you don't make her feel the financial burden is her fault.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

    Comment


    • #3
      I understand your dilemma having been there myself with a daughter. As much as I would love to share my passion for horses with my children none of them seem to have gotten the horse gene.

      If this was a different sport, one you were not passionate about, how would you respond? If it were say, soccer, and your daughter never put her gear away, piano and you had to nag at her to practice and even then she didn't focus or dance and she kept making excuses for not going and didn't practice.
      With the pony you can ride him but if it were dance or piano you couldn't do her practice for her, would you continue to pay for her lessons, drive her to them, pay for the piano, expensive dance outfits etc if she had no interest?

      She may not have the passion but could you 'just' do casual rides with her? Get the horse ready and just go for a mother/daughter ride together. No pressure on correct equitation/schooling....just time together?

      If you are leasing in order for your daughter to have a pony that may not be practical.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by colorfan View Post
        I understand your dilemma having been there myself with a daughter. As much as I would love to share my passion for horses with my children none of them seem to have gotten the horse gene.

        If this was a different sport, one you were not passionate about, how would you respond? If it were say, soccer, and your daughter never put her gear away, piano and you had to nag at her to practice and even then she didn't focus or dance and she kept making excuses for not going and didn't practice.
        With the pony you can ride him but if it were dance or piano you couldn't do her practice for her, would you continue to pay for her lessons, drive her to them, pay for the piano, expensive dance outfits etc if she had no interest?

        She may not have the passion but could you 'just' do casual rides with her? Get the horse ready and just go for a mother/daughter ride together. No pressure on correct equitation/schooling....just time together?

        If you are leasing in order for your daughter to have a pony that may not be practical.
        I think this really would be the best direction (assuming we could find something for her to play around on...which is a maybe).

        2DogsFarm, she is absolutely doing this to please me! We've known that from the start. She's a great kid like that. But I've told her over and over again it's totally unnecessary. I will love her the same whether she's a rider, dancer, painter, or underwater basket weaver .

        Comment


        • #5
          Let her quit
          the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart

          Comment


          • #6
            gertie06 Yabbut....
            If it's just the lease making her feel she "owes" you, then seems maybe she'd carry on despite not really wanting to.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

            Comment


            • #7
              Maybe she just wants to trail ride and not have a riding career? Could you take over riding the pony in the lease? I know you do it 1-2 times but could you do more until the lease terminates? Maybe she is just ready for a break, but doesn't know how to communicate it. Maybe stop taking her to the barn and see if she notices/shows any emotion about it. Good luck.
              I LOVE my Chickens!

              Comment


              • #8
                My two cents:
                Basically "owning" a pony (full lease) is a lot of pressure on a child/pre-teen who really isn't that into horses. Add showing on top of that? That's a whole lot of extra pressure and time and just general fussiness.

                Maybe she just enjoys hanging out with you at the barn and playing with dogs, cats, frogs, etc. The pony is just an excuse to be there.

                Let her do what she wants to do. Maybe she does want to ride sometimes, but other times she just wants to do her own thing. Maybe that means you end the lease, but there might be some drama associated with that if she's bonded with the pony (and I wouldn't assume that she hasn't just because she doesn't groom properly, etc.).

                Maybe she'll want to tag along with you to the shows, without the pony. Or maybe she wants to sit home and read.

                I'd agree with the poster above who said that age 11 is a transitional year for many girls. Even previously horse-crazy girls often lose the urge to hang out at the barn.

                Let her find her own way here.
                "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                Comment


                • #9
                  If your 11 year old daughter, with 4 years of lessons under her belt, is unable or unwilling to safely tack up the pony, be prepared for the lesson/ride and provide age appropriate after care ride, I would not continue the lease. This all presumes the other youth at the barn aren't being bratty towards her or making her feel unwelcome.

                  Your daughter sees the pony & lease through the eyes of an 11 year old. As parents we make daily decisions for our children and sometimes the decision isn't a popular one. At best I'd offer her weekly lessons, after dropping the lease, and see what happens.

                  She may drop riding all together or SHE may decide "dang, I miss having more barn time". She may walk away for a few years then revisit riding. A friend who is Mr. AQHA son did that. The boy was "meh" about riding as a kid, didn't ride as a pre-teen then about age 14 jumped in with both feet and he is on the top of his age bracket now in AQHA. The big thing was his professional parents honored their son's level of interest and did not push him.

                  Good luck with your daughter!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I don't have children, but our parents * always * let us choose our interests. I was a dyed-in-the-wool horse nut from Day One (and still am, 55 years later). My brother enjoyed horses, but on a much more casual level (yet he now owns 14 to my four, oddly enough). We were both encouraged and allowed to try new team sports, dance, solo interests, etc., but were never pressured to stick with something that didn't really appeal to us. I'm quite sure our parents must have been at least occasionally frustrated, but we never saw it. It was a lovely upbringing and I'm forever grateful.

                    I've been teaching lessons for decades and I can tell you IME the happiest and most dedicated kids are those who practically have to beg their parents for their lessons and barn time. When I'm asked for advice about situations such as yours, I always counsel in favor of letting the child stop riding. Sometimes they realize they really miss it, and want to get back to the barn (though maybe without showing... or in a different discipline altogether) within a short time frame. Sometimes they move on to other sports and interests. Sometimes they return to horses much later in their lives... but among the adults I teach in this category, exactly none tell me they felt pressured to ride when they were young.

                    Patience pays.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Going into the new school year is the perfect time to make a transition.

                      Give up the lease on the pony. The riding school, if she wants, is a great place to be at that age because it's social with other kids and no pressure.

                      If she wants to lease again that can happen, or maybe she'd love going on some special trail riding vacations or mini outings with you, even if it's via a rent-a-horse string. Or maybe she'll want to do more horse stuff in summer.

                      I hear ya! It's challenging to figure out what they want, when to push, when not.
                      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        She's not spending your money, you are.

                        Even if a child said she really wanted to ride, if she kept slacking off the way your daughter is, the lease should be terminated. If she's more interested in the barn cats, maybe she would like a cat of her own. Much easier and cheaper to keep than a horse. And the lack of listening in lessons and not being prepared could be dangerous.

                        I'm sorry she isn't the horse-crazy kid you and I were. That sucks. But you're wasting your money. So end the lease, and if she wants to come back later to riding, let her know she can, and will be welcome, any time.
                        Rack on!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Are there kids her age? Is she maybe interested teaching the pony some tricks instead of riding? Or vaulting? I'd consider stopping the lease to take the pressure off. I did gymnastics when I was a kid - once a week was great. Attending the more professional class 5 times a week was horrible. (I tried several types of sports because friends did). So maybe it is fine for her to come to the barn and just enjoy people, pets and playing instead of training. Is there any other hobby she'd love to get into?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I feel you, my daughter’s 12 and “loves horses” but she just doesn’t have the “fire in the belly” that I had, you know? Right now she’s taking one lesson a week and has made it clear that she doesn’t want to show. Every now and then I’ll let her toodle around on my horse between lessons, but half the time when I offer that, she’ll decline. I *try* to have as limited involvement in her lesson prep as I can, but it’s a struggle sometimes, particularly because I think the instructors at our barn take advantage of the fact that I am knowledgeable and will be around. If she were some kid belonging to an “I’m just here to provide transportation and write the checks” sort of Mom (like mine was), I’m sure they’d be the ones helping her get the stubborn pony’s feet picked, etc. If I were in your shoes (backing down from a larger commitment and involvement), I would ask her honestly what SHE wants and would be happy with. You might be able to find a compromise between a full lease and showing one lesson a week. There’s a fair amount of space in there. Two lessons a week, one of which she “pays” for herself doing barn chores (I did that for years and years)? Half lease and no showing in a situation where she can do more informal fun, riding (trails, games with friends)? One lesson a week and the occasional catch ride on your horse (if you own or your lease allows, and the horse is safe for your kid, of course) like I do? If at all possible, if you trust the degree of supervision the barn gives to kids of non-horsey parents and are otherwise OK with it, for her lessons drop and run. Warn the barn—“I’m not going to be able to stick around to help out Susan with Dobby for today’s lesson”

                            Also ask if she might be more interested in a different type of horse involvement. Maybe she’d rather do dressage or endurance or Extreme Cowboy Challenge or drill team.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re-read your fifth paragraph.
                              Then the post from SLW.
                              Then the post by Rackonteur.

                              There you go.
                              No matter where you go, there you are

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                "She's not horse crazy at all."
                                She sounds like a good kid who wants to please you, her mom. I know at that age I wouldn't have wanted to disappoint my parents by actually saying no. But passively signaling that I didn't want to be doing this by wandering off to do something else? Oh yes!
                                Honestly, the current situation sounds like a recipe for increased tension and resentment over the next few years with nobody happy. End the lease, take her to the barn with you once in awhile but without any pressure to 'be like mom' just a chance to be with mom in a place that is a good, happy place for you. That will be a better thing in the years to come. If that makes sense?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by gertie06 View Post
                                  Bottom line: she's spending our money and her childhood doing something she's not crazy about. She just doesn't see it that way. Where do we go from here?
                                  Of course she doesn't see it that way. She's 11.

                                  So your horses are at home? I think a lot of "horse crazy" kids like the company and comradery of the other kids at a barn. It's very different if you only ride at home with your mom.

                                  I think you know the answer. I'd end the lease and let her continue with lessons elsewhere if she wants them, but only if she asks for them. You think it will upset her, but it might not.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I believe your daughter takes the situation for granted.
                                    Not surprising.

                                    End the lease and let the pony go back.
                                    if she wants to take it up again, then let her help pay for it.
                                    The experience of actually having to care for animals and pay for their upkeep will give her life skills and a better appreciation for the blessing of having animals in her life.

                                    I'm not blaming her, or saying she is a bad kid, btw.
                                    I try to remember how blessed I am to be able to own my horse. I was horse crazy but didn't get my own horse until I was 35.
                                    it makes me appreciate him a lot more.

                                    Certified Guacophobe

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      An 11 year old may be telling the truth that she loves the leased pony and going to ride it, the IDEA of it.
                                      At that age, there may still be a disconnect between liking the idea of something and understanding the real commitment to all that going ahead with that means.
                                      A kid really nuts about horses would love anything horse, in pictures, in movies, driving by horses.
                                      A barn and a leased horse would be heaven every minute.
                                      No one would have to motivate such kid, but teach it limits to such obsessive love of horses.

                                      Then there are the kids that really don't like something about the whole horse thing, but may not even know what that may be, or have a way to explain it.

                                      For whatever reason the OP kid is not quite as focused in the horse experience the parents are providing.
                                      Maybe backing off for a bit, until more maturity and figuring things better would make the most sense here?
                                      Let the kid now or later be the one asking for horses in her life.
                                      Then the adults can help find a way to make it happen.
                                      That could work here better than what is happening now, an opportunity and all that supporting help and kid really not quite with it enough that the OP is having questions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        You can give good example. You can lead. You can urge. You can pay for everything. What can do, but ought not to do, is pressure the kid to continue. If the kid is just not that into the activity then what's the point? Early on good kids really do try and please their parents, often doing stuff just 'cause the parents enjoy it. But once the "tween" era begins the kids begin to change their point view and will start resenting, and resisting, even slight, indirect pressures.

                                        Is there another adult who the kid respects that might ask them about their motivations, plus or minus? Sometimes they will be more honest with an outsider. Sometimes they won't. But it does not hurt to try.

                                        Best of luck going forward.

                                        G.
                                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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