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My daughter's riding (and lack thereof)

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    Originally posted by Beck View Post

    I think that is debatable: most of the kids I know and work with seem to regard quitting as no big deal. They walk away from things, big and small, regularly and with no lasting effects.
    I agree. People start something because it looks fun or interesting, but you really don't know until you try it. Or maybe you have too many things going on and need to pare down the schedule. I "quit" softball and swimming when I was 12; I just did not like all the practicing and didn't enjoy the games enough to tolerate the practices. For many kids, sports are a social activity, and once it becomes a bit of a burden, the social appeal is lost. I liked being on a team with my friends, but the activity itself, meh, not so much.


      Originally posted by gertie06 View Post

      As I mentioned, she says she wants to. I don’t force her. But her words and actions are saying different things.
      She's saying what she thinks you want to hear and is probably just not capable of articulating her own needs. Looking on the bright side, she wants to spend time with you, however I suspect that you dedicate so much time to the horses that in order to be with you she's accepted that it means having to also be with the horses herself.

      Is it possible to take a weekend that doesn't involve going to the barn? Dedicate some time to her around the things she's interested in. Tell her that it's you who needs a break from barn duties, then she won't feel guilty. You need to be positive and show interest in alternate activities yourself. Find the thing she gets excited about and not only encourage it but take an interest in it yourself, by which I mean don't stand around looking miserable and bored. That way not only will she start to gain the confidence to be able to say how she feels, but she'll also develop as an individual.


        Original Poster

        Originally posted by Nous View Post

        however I suspect that you dedicate so much time to the horses that in order to be with you she's accepted that it means having to also be with the horses herself.

        Is it possible to take a weekend that doesn't involve going to the barn?

        It would all make more sense if this were true! However, my work is flexible, so I try and go to the barn when the kids are in school, at camp, etc. I'm home almost every night. On weekends, I spend 1.5 hours at the barn on Sunday. That's it.

        Now, your comment about me showing interest in other activities....that's spot-on. Maybe I should try painting with her. She loves to paint.


          At the age of 11 I spent my time with friends trying different types of (sport) activities because my class mates and friends did. I am not sure if this thread is about mum-daughter-time or about finding a hobby the girl enjoys, this is probably 2 pairs of shoes?


            One of the beautiful things about riding and horses is that you can stop riding without falling behind in the sense that you do with certain school sports or activities. My friends son played baseball from T ball thru grade 6 or so. He persued other things then in an attempt to return to baseball in high school he realized how much ground he'd lost vs his friends to stuck with it. After being a lead player in grade 5 he couldn't make the team in 9th.

            I'd end the lease, save some money and allow her to do what she wants. Let her take weekly lessons or trot around on your horse is that is an option. Maybe in a few years time she will decide she's interested. Maybe not. Spending thousands on a sport she has no passion for makes no sense. She's old enough to know that this is expensive. She probably wants to please you, knowing how passionate you are about horses. I've seen many kids at barns taking lessons or riding their own horses because Mom wants it or is reliving her lost youth through the child. They usually look sad, complain of general pains and when they finally quit it creates and ugly rift in the family.
            F O.B
            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


              Not sure if this has been mentioned, but what does your daughter do to earn the pony?

              You'll see very quickly if you add tasks to earn her riding time, whether or not she's sincerely interested.

              Back when I was a kid, I had to mow the lawn, fill/ empty dishwasher, vacuum the house, laundry, etc. Yes, all age appropriate and my folks were probably too hard on me/ definitely abusive. But that "work for it" attitude has stuck with me.

              Everyone knows that if something is just handed to them, it's oftentimes taken for granted. There's no harm in saying she must do x, x & x chores around the house regularly or she won't be riding this week.

              You'll very quickly see how much riding means to her.

              On another note, can you drop to a half lease of this pony? So you're not riding it yourself and your daughter doesn't feel as much pressure to keep it going on the days she's just not into it, or has other things she must attend to?


                Now, your comment about me showing interest in other activities....that's spot-on. Maybe I should try painting with her. She loves to paint.
                I like this. It might not be so much about just spending time with you but specifically spending time with you without her sister.
                Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe


                  I would end the lease now. I'd probably tell her that the pony needs to go back to his owner at the start of school (or X date). This is just me, but I'd not say anything too specific about why the pony's going back, just that he needs to go back. And then I'd tell her that if she wants riding lessons, let me know and we'll set that up for once a week. Then go from there.

                  By not making it about her or the time or the cost or showing - making the pony's return about the pony, I think you'll be spared feelings like it's going back as a punishment or because it's her fault.


                    Originally posted by rockymouse View Post
                    I would end the lease now. I'd probably tell her that the pony needs to go back to his owner at the start of school (or X date). This is just me, but I'd not say anything too specific about why the pony's going back, just that he needs to go back. And then I'd tell her that if she wants riding lessons, let me know and we'll set that up for once a week. Then go from there.

                    By not making it about her or the time or the cost or showing - making the pony's return about the pony, I think you'll be spared feelings like it's going back as a punishment or because it's her fault.
                    That actually works for this age group. Perhaps she can still visit pony if she wants.


                      Ummmm she is 11 this is NOT her career it is a HOBBY a VOLUNTARY SPORT she is only doing ONLY to please mommy dearest who it sounds like is trying to live vicariously through her daughters...when the other noped out this one probably realized she was the only hope and/or realized how disappointed you were. I am flabbergasted you had the nerve to hint at complaining about the time and money. Ya let her put down the hoof pick and you pick up a paint brush.


                        Wow, this could have been my mom when I was 11 (ok, maybe a little older). I had super fancy horses, parents who were willing to do everything I needed, and I loved showing. Feeding and cleaning stalls and all the work? Not so much. My parents kept the horse, let me get away without doing much (horse lived at home, so there was still some work) and let me show. That's not a decision I can say was right or wrong. I know my mom told me hundreds of times that I didn't have to do this, that I could stop, but I really struggled with the idea of "quitting" - and riding was so much of my identity, I honestly think I didn't know what I'd do without it (even though I didn't love it? More... the idea of it?) Now part of this was I was in a discipline I'd grown to dislike and there was an outright refusal to let me switch to what I wanted to do (event, jumpers). They felt like they'd put too much money into this discipline and I wasn't holding up my end - why would they let me do something else? Well, rock, hard place, the end.

                        I went off to college and didn't put a leg over a horse for 4 years, minus home on a few breaks where I rode my (now retired) mare around bareback. In grad school I rode sparingly, finding a half lease to exercise a girl on study abroad's horse twice a week for one semester - that was it.

                        Finally, seven years after I graduated from high school, I was on my own and wouldn't you know, the first thing I did was go out and find an event horse to lease. I'm happier with horses than I can ever remember being. I still love my retired mare to the moon and back, but I'll never go back to that discipline. I love eventing, put in far more work than I did as a kid, every penny comes out of my paycheck and it's worth every bit.

                        She may truly love the horses, I know I did/do. But - it may not be the right life stage for them. And she might not really want to do it, but might not ever actually come out and say it. Do I think I would have cried if my mom had put her foot down? 100% Would I have also gotten over it and moved on? 100%

                        And down the road, she just might come back to it on her own.


                          OP, do you have your own horse? You absolutely should keep doing the sport you love.

                          My boys are not that interested despite the odd riding here and there. I have a horse they *can* ride, but honestly the horse is mine, I am the one who rides her, I enjoy her, so none of the $$ is wasted...she's great. I hope you have something to ride and enjoy besides your schooling of the lease pony! if not, end that lease and lease a horse for you that would be safe enough for your daughter to ride on occasionally, and use the $$ to better advantage!


                            Originally posted by gertie06 View Post
                            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. I told her 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. 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'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 career 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.
                            Have you ever thought that maybe for her it is a way to connect with and spend time with you? My daughter has had a horse all her life. I do the care, feeding and any farrier, vet things. She likes riding but she never initiates it on her own, but rather rides the 4-5 days a week when I do.

                            Her goals may not be yours but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable to her. I would keep things as they are with the lease pony unless you are putting yourself in a financial bind.

                            Time spent with our kids doing something we both enjoy is something that won't last for many of us. I would have her tack up on her own ( just check and change what needs doing if needed). Parents are there to guide and " remind" our kids. It is what we do


                              Original Poster

                              Originally posted by fordtraktor View Post
                              OP, do you have your own horse? You absolutely should keep doing the sport you love.
                              I do, and that's important. I don't ride vicariously through my daughter, although many respondents here have painted me that way -- I ride and enjoy my own horse myself! And my sweet gelding, although way too big, is quiet enough for my daughter to ride....if she wants to.


                                I think you already have a sense of what direction is best. The fact that she has continued to express mild interest is probably rooted in her love and desire to not disappoint you. Stepping back from horses does not need to be framed as a failure or disappoint but rather freeing up some time to explore other interests for a while. Horses will always be there.

                                Perhaps a local explorers club that does nature walks and finding insects would be really interesting or volunteering with the cats at the local humane society.

                                I am utterly horse obsessed and have been from the age of 5. The idea of spending 4 days a week at the barn would have been my idea of heaven. That being said, that is my perspective decades later trying to remember what it was like to be 11. At that age, it may have been a blessing in disguise that I went once a week and developed a lifelong yearning for more time at the barn rather than having it so accessible.


                                  First, i would have loved to have you as a mom. My mother was allergic to the outdoors. Neither of my children care for horses or riding or farm life, either.... I was hoping that maybe my genes jumped a generation to a grandchild but there are no grandchildren yet.

                                  Secondly, had I had a pony at your daughter's age, you wouldn't have been able to drag me away from him.

                                  which brings me to
                                  Thirdly, maybe she wants to share with you what you love more than she loves riding. Maybe there is another way to share with her your love of riding.
                                  Caring for Clifford, my big red dog and assorted monkeys, I mean goats. Protected by a few loyal Anatolian Shepherd Dogs and Kangals.


                                    A lot of people have asked if horses let her spend one on one time with you. But she's 11, maybe thats part of the problem? Tacking, bathing, wrapping, cleaning all with mom hanging over your shoulder can be kind of a bummer at that age. Have you tried finding a barn with lots of barn rats who sort of hang in a pack and do their own thing? Maybe she likes riding but needs to spread her wings a bit and find her own place in the sport away from mom. (I say this as a mom who can definitely see this day coming with my own daughter!)

                                    I'd suggest trying to find a local Pony Club if she really wants to keep riding. There is a social aspect, lots of ratings and competition, and they really stress the horse management aspect. You wouldn't have to nag, its just part of the program. And the kids have to do it all themselves, grownups aren't allowed to help! It would provide a little more structure and accountability to a program, rather than to you.


                                      I haven't read all of the posts, but I read many of them. There is lots of good advice. The only thing I have to offer (and it may have already been mentioned), have you considered that DD somewhat enjoys horses, but really is just trying to spend time with you? Maybe doing horsey things without expectations so that you can bond together and enjoy moments without stress is what you need.


                                        Originally posted by candyappy View Post

                                        Her goals may not be yours but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable to her. I would keep things as they are with the lease pony unless you are putting yourself in a financial bind.

                                        Well kudos to you for thinking about it and getting support. I think this is what I'd do for the time being. Let things be. Ask if she really wants to show--maybe she likes toodling along on the trails. I was a horse crazy brat, showed and all that (thank you Mom for supporting that) and then had a period where I was fine just riding them around bareback in a halter. Then got into a totally different riding discipline.
                                        If it's about spending time with you, or doing what mom does or enjoying her pony but not in the crazy obsessed way, that seems like a fine thing. And YES to painting with her and going on relaxed trail rides and all that.
                                        And I think you rock , Mom! No one knows every possible parenting dilemma, that ;s why we get support!!!


                                          Personally, I would not leave things as they are. I would never pay for a lease if my child or grandchild was unwilling to do the work of tacking up,grooming, stall cleaning, etc. Those are deal breakers. Having an animal entails responsibilities, and if the child is reaping the benefits (ribbons) she should be doing doing the work needed to get to that point. Amassing ribbons without doing the work necessary to care for a horse is a situation that would make me uncomfortable. I would be concerned about learning the wrong lessons here.