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The fearful young student- having hysterical fits- UPDATE post 163

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  • #41
    Originally posted by mpsbarnmanager View Post
    Yes, after the lesson we went into my house and over a pizza, I nonchalantly asked her is she still wanted to plan to go to this show. She said she did. The mom and I talked to her and explained that sometimes variables come up, and we as riders have to keep our chin up, do the best we can, and commit to seeing the plan through if possible. If she wants to do this I know she can, IF she decides to.

    She does have anxiety in other areas. I really did not make that connection till now. She HAS to have her mom tuck her into bed every night. She will get very upset if that does not happen.
    Ok...maybe mom is not telling you everything.

    I am going to go back and search for my thread where I asked instructors on how t ask the parent the delicate question if something is not quiet there with the kid....
    Either mom thinks it's normal or she didn't tell you about the other aspects of the anxiety....
    I am thinking you need to know more to adjust your tools.
    http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...ht=instructors

    I did get some wonderful suggestions.
    Originally posted by BigMama1
    Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
    GNU Terry Prachett

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    • #42
      I think what many posters are missing is that you can't BULLY someone or THREATEN someone out of being fearful. Forcing her off her pony because she's throwing a "tantrum" isn't going to work. She's not having a tantrum, she's having a panic attack when being put in the same situation that she fell off the last time. Threatening her with not going to the show isn't going to get to the root of the problem.

      She has a very rational fear of falling off. She needs to be on a safe horse with an instructor who works step by step to build her confidence and an instructor who knows how to push her outside her fear zone without her knowing its being done.

      It is very normal to deal with fear and riding and to want to ride despite having that fear.
      http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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      • #43
        See, I'm just not getting where the assumption that just because the OP vented her frustrations of this situation here she's responding to the student in a callous, impatient way. OP has hit a teaching roadblock that she's not encountered and is seeking help. And she's gotten some good advice.

        Originally posted by dreamingofdressage View Post
        but if she really likes riding, she WILL pull through eventually.
        I think this is a very important point, but its sounding like a pretty big "if" right now. OP does not know yet if child is truly that fearful, or if child just isn't that into riding.

        But, if the child really does want to continue to ride she has to learn to control her emotions.

        Being involved with horses we all know that emotional outbursts - whether caused by fear, anger, or frustration -and horses Do.Not.Mix. It can make a questionable situation bad, and a bad situation worse.

        I'm sure we've all seen videos of adult professionals loosing their cool and creating a much worse drama than they started with.

        If the child wants to ride, she needs to learn to control those outbursts. Period. I wish I had some advice for the OP on how to make that happen. But I do think that both the child and her parents need to understand the importance of this very necessary riding skill. Its not just about head up, heels down.

        If the child cannot or will not do that, then she needs to find another outlet that does not involve highly sensitive large animals with strong flight instincts.

        And no - no showing. Not now. If the child is this scared in a familiar environment how in the world will she handle the many unpredictable variables in an unfamiliar and higher pressure environment?
        Last edited by AllisonWunderlund; Feb. 15, 2013, 05:20 PM. Reason: clarity
        "I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy. My reality is just different from yours."
        ~Lewis Carroll

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        • #44
          A friend sent this to me so I want to add my 2 cents.

          I want to pull the same antics from time to time. I've had some scary falls off my horse. I've wanted to go sit in a corner and cry "I DON'T WANT TO F@CKING DO THIS!" The difference betwen me and this is kid is like 20+ years. I do 'put my big girl panties on' and ride. But again, I'm older. I have a different ability to logic things out.

          I worked with a child once whose dad was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident. Her mother was a drug addict. She was shuffled between grandparents. She was scared to death of everything. Our lessons were sometimes leading the horse around. Then if the horse stepped on her toe, we'd brush the horse the next lesson. She got to dictate how hard/fast we went. She had numerous meltdowns. But she was honestly and truly terrified.

          I saw her a few weeks ago and she was so happy to tell me she was cantering 18" courses. To see her so proud of herself was worth every single one of those screaming lessons. Every tear was worth it, every bit of frustration.

          It does sound like the kid has some real fear issues. You need to be the one to step in and say "I don't think this is working." Stop thinking of how frustrated you are and start thinking about how frustrated the kid is. This isn't about your failure/inability/shortcoming as a trainer. It's about a fearful kid that you may not be the person to help.

          Comment


          • #45
            I specialize in a sense on riders with fear issues.
            If you are committed to helping this girl, I suggest you look into EFT, and NLP methods of coaching. What you describe is not spoiled brat syndrome; she is suffering. She will continue to suffer until she is given the necessary tools to empower herself.
            Feel free to PM me
            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
            chaque pas est fait ensemble

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            • #46
              Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
              I think what many posters are missing is that you can't BULLY someone or THREATEN someone out of being fearful. Forcing her off her pony because she's throwing a "tantrum" isn't going to work. She's not having a tantrum, she's having a panic attack when being put in the same situation that she fell off the last time. Threatening her with not going to the show isn't going to get to the root of the problem.
              She has a very rational fear of falling off. She needs to be on a safe horse with an instructor who works step by step to build her confidence and an instructor who knows how to push her outside her fear zone without her knowing its being done.

              It is very normal to deal with fear and riding and to want to ride despite having that fear.
              While I don't think she should be threatened with not going to the show, I think someone needs to explain to her that she needs to surmount the obstacles she's facing before even considering a show. What is going to happen when she hears the loudspeakers, crowds, yelling, dogs barking, kids crying, umbrellas, banners, sees other horses shying at the above, etc. etc. etc. and starts worrying about pony spooking at that stuff? She seems to be hitting overload in a quiet arena with one (jets) stimulus, what happens when it is everywhere?

              Nothing wrong with taking 10 steps back to the basics, getting a more secure seat, and a few "falling off" lessons (best thing ever for students- lessen the fear and show them how to avoid getting hurt worse when it happens) to overcome these fears before attempting a show.

              Comment


              • #47
                Oh I agree that going to a show is not a good idea. Maybe going to watch and groom would be better.
                http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

                Comment


                • #48
                  I have to say, as a person who can get like this, it can really be a confidence issue.

                  I'm an adult now, but there are things the trainer must approach with me 1 of 2 ways, both of which work:

                  1. Build me up by telling me nice things, etc long enough for me to get confident to try something on my own;

                  2. MAKE me do it.

                  Now, you can't do this with a kid. In my case, I have never been badly hurt riding and I don't mind falling in the least. What I am afraid of is not doing something well. I had a trainer who got frustrated with me as a teenager when I couldn't do stuff "right" and I am very type-A perfectionist. The combination made me anxious about riding in situations where I might not perform well, like trying something new. The same thing can happen for a kid, maybe mom is telling her she has to go to the show and she has to do well and it's compounded by having to drive so far, etc. Mom may not even realize she's doing this but kids with that personality take any comments, etc very seriously and it can cause this type of anxiety.

                  I never went into hysterics but that was because parents and trainer were of the old school and I would have been going home with a sore butt if I had.
                  Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                  you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by AllisonWunderlund View Post
                    See, I'm just not getting where the assumption that just because the OP vented her frustrations of this situation here she's responding to the student in a callous, impatient way. OP has hit a teaching roadblock that she's not encountered and is seeking help. And she's gotten some good advice.
                    OP clarified some of her post, but look at what she wrote in the actual OP:
                    IMHO, this is totally insane behavior. Pull your big girl panties up and ride the pony!!!! I remind myself that she is 10 and is truly afraid, but it still irritated me beyond words that she does not seem to try to work past it. If she did, she would realize that it is NBD.
                    That doesn't sound understanding at all. The kid's behavior isn't "insane", OP's "humble" opinion notwithstanding. Falling to this particular kid is obviously not a "NBD" issue, and really, "irritated beyond words" that the kid didn't get over what was a traumatic event for her only one lesson ago, when the triggering event (jets) happened again? The kid had a meltdown last lesson, and become "incoherent" according to OP when faced with the trigger the following lesson; clearly to OP "working past it" means something along the lines of bouncing back as if it never happened, because exactly when in that timeframe did the kid have time to work past anything?

                    With a previous fall it took that kid months to get back to riding, and OP's "irritated beyond words" that kid is not back to being fine the very next lesson (and on a pony that kid probably trusted as safe after she fell off her own horse, so now she has to deal with the fear of the fall AND that the "safe" pony bucks when spooked).
                    Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                    • #50
                      Originally posted by Coanteen View Post
                      OP clarified some of her post, but look at what she wrote in the actual OP:


                      That doesn't sound understanding at all. The kid's behavior isn't "insane", OP's "humble" opinion notwithstanding. Falling to this particular kid is obviously not a "NBD" issue, and really, "irritated beyond words" that the kid didn't get over what was a traumatic event for her only one lesson ago, when the triggering event (jets) happened again? The kid had a meltdown last lesson, and become "incoherent" according to OP when faced with the trigger the following lesson; clearly to OP "working past it" means something along the lines of bouncing back as if it never happened, because exactly when in that timeframe did the kid have time to work past anything?

                      With a previous fall it took that kid months to get back to riding, and OP's "irritated beyond words" that kid is not back to being fine the very next lesson (and on a pony that kid probably trusted as safe after she fell off her own horse, so now she has to deal with the fear of the fall AND that the "safe" pony bucks when spooked).
                      I think she was venting to us....the instructor saw no reason to be afraid. I once spent and entire lesson getting a young girl on the horse. She was afraid, I knew the horse was a 31yo babysitter that I specifically selected for this nervous girl. He stood rock still for 40 min while she tried to get on. I never gave up because the girl never gave up. It just took her 40 min to get on. We were at the mounting block the entire time. Just like trailer training I did not let her go backward. One step at a time. Finally, she did it.

                      And that good old boy stayed with me when I "challenged" her to follow me all over the arena. I knew he wouldnt leave me, but the girl was soo proud to riding "independently".

                      Point is............afterwards I ranted to friends about how frustrating the lesson was for me, dang - it was draining.
                      Last edited by skykingismybaby1; Feb. 15, 2013, 07:29 PM. Reason: needed clarity
                      www.headsupspecialriders.com

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                      • #51
                        Just a question. Is the mother there for every lesson? Sometimes children over react when parents are around. Not saying the kid isn't scared, but if she is
                        looking for some type of reaction from the mother, then you are basicly beat.
                        Lots of kids get scared, and different kids require different responses.
                        1. no going to a show, end of story. 2. ask the mother to not remain and watch the lessons. 3. if the kid gets scared, walk over hold the pony, and put your arm around the kid. Tell her that she can stand still on the pony, until the jets pass. 4. No jumping. 5. go back to the lunge line and work on seat and leg position, as she progresses, start working on no stirrup work. 6. Invent some games, ones were she has to bend down and put something in a bucket.
                        You need to work on the kids centre of balance. I am sure you can think of a lot more games.
                        I am sure you are frustrated because there are kids that need a "put on your big girl panty attitude". This child sounds to me like there is fear, coupled with a desire for attention from mom, and no actual blance or secure seat on the pony. Good luck, and I feel for you, but think of how great it will be when the child reaches the point, that she is able to go to a show.
                        www.tayvalleyfarm.com
                        My other home.

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                        • #52
                          One word for you,OP, Visualization.

                          Before she comes to her next lesson, have her spend time imagining going through it. She's riding along happily, the planes go over, instead of having a flip fit, she halts the pony, woth you holding it if it makes her happy, til the plane goes over. Then she continues on with the lesson. All goes well amd she ends it happy.

                          While she's having the lesson, if/when the planes go over, have her halt pony, and run through the visualization again, breathing slowly.

                          It will work if she does it, and will eventually cancel out the picture in her head of falling.

                          Ps- I'm not a dr, nor do I play one on tv, I have had anxiety/panic issues, amd worked through them this way successfully
                          Both pn and off a pony.

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                          • #53
                            It strikes me that in this day and age, "SHOWING" , not "LEARNING TO RIDE",seems to be the immediate goal of many kids and adults.

                            Showing is to be done when one has achieved a certain competence in their riding, whether it is walk trot, cross rails or Grand Prix, to SHOW what you have learned to do with your horse (though not necessarily perfected).

                            I would think that a child with such issues should be told that showing is out until she is more comfortable on a horse.Nothing will be gained by her falling off at a show, and adding embarrassment to her fear issue..

                            If she is truly interested in riding, that shouldn't be a problem. If she is only interested in "showing" then that will make itself apparent and I expect she will lose interest.

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by skykingismybaby1 View Post
                              I think she was venting to us....she saw no reason to be afraid.
                              But there is reason to be afraid. It's even sensible to be afraid; kids typically aren't because they don't have the same sense of mortality that adults tend to have.

                              I used to teach swimming. I myself was "self-taught" in that my folks dumped me in the lake with something to hold onto, and over time I learned to doggie paddle (they were within reach, they weren't actually trying to kill me). And many of my swim kids were like that too.
                              But not all. Some kids were very fearful, and needed a lot of very step-wise guidance and repetition, repetition, repetition until they felt totally safe at each step. Just because I wasn't really afraid, and most of my students weren't, doesn't mean that learning to swim can't be very scary to some. Learning isn't a one size fits all, and not every kid responds well to "pull up your big girl panties".

                              The OP, any teacher, should recognize that a kid who was previously scared for a long time after being dumped might just panic after suddenly finding out that ~safe steady eddie school pony~ might just buck her off in response to something it sees daily.
                              Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                              • #55
                                uh- NO this kid cannot go to the show. Seriously, she is not ready to ride. She needs time off. 6 months to 2 years is my guess. let her grow up, then start over slowly, on a bombproof horse. She cannot gain confidence on a horse she cannot ride. i personally would send her to someone else. you could end up losing the friendship with this family if you keep trying. sorry if this sounds harsh, but she is not ready.

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                                • #56
                                  Coateen....I meant that the teacher saw no reason to be afraid not the student. Sorry that was not clear.
                                  www.headsupspecialriders.com

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                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by skykingismybaby1 View Post
                                    Coateen....I meant that the teacher saw no reason to be afraid not the student. Sorry that was not clear.
                                    Quite clear.
                                    And in a peer, that would be fine. If another kid rolled her eyes at the fearful kid and said neener, there's nothing to be afraid of, it'd be rude but totally understandable.

                                    An instructor, OTOH, should recognize that the student's fear is not only real but understandable given the circumstances. As instructor she should recognize that for the student there is something to be afraid of, and that this particular student has already demonstrated previously that she doesn't bounce right back after being dumped. Responding with "if you were at a show you'd be excused" after by her own observation the student is incoherent, and then wondering why the student is not magically "working past it", is...ehhhh.
                                    Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

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                                    • #58
                                      Ok, I get your point now.
                                      www.headsupspecialriders.com

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                                      • #59
                                        I haven't taught riding in over 20 years, so I won't offer anything from that perspective!

                                        I am a parent of a 10 year old child who suffers from anxiety.

                                        First, I agree with Texan, if Mom is there and active for every lesson (I think you said she calmed the child down?)...start by asking Mom to sit out the lesson in her car or in the barn. Kids this age most certainly do play things up for parents and, if Mom is the super coddling type, she'll only make it worse. Kids can often be braver and more inpependent if the person who usually bails them out isn't around. Myself, I do not go in for lessons or whatever where my son is having anxiety issues or is being at all uncooperative with the instructor. I watch only when things are going smoothly and remove myself when they are not...sticking around would cripple the instructor's ability to manage him, as he'd be constantly looking over his shoulder, hoping Mommy would help him out.

                                        Forget the horse show, the girl isn't in a good place for that right now. Don't ask their opinion, you are the trainer, you decide when your clients are ready to go to a show that you will be coaching them at. Just say "we're not ready right now".

                                        I think you need to back way up with this girl and work on her confidence and expanding her comfort zone, a bit at a time. Last year, I was working with a very anxious OTTB and the trainer I was working with set each lesson up carefully...we'd start with doing something the horse was confident about and then purposefully set up a situation that would just BARELY challenge his comfort level. The important part was that I was ready, physically, mentally and with a PLAN, before we pushed him to provoke just a bit of his anxiety...because I knew it was going to happen and had a plan, I could get him through it without a major incident. He'd come out of the ride being just a tiiiiny bit more confident. Next ride, we'd go just a bit further than the last...VERY slowly expanding the horse's comfort zone while never allowing things to get out of control or past his breaking point. Did not want to overface him, or we'd be back nearly to step 1.

                                        This would work for anyone, not just a horse . Back up and have her do just things she is totally confident about, if that's just flatwork for a while, so be it. YOU choose when she'll encounter something that might be a challenge for her, don't let it just happen. You and she have a plan and strategy ready for what to do if anything happens when she starts to creep just a bit outside what she's comfortable with. For now, you can have her halt and you hold the pony's head while the planes take off. When she's good with sitting on the pony for that, maybe she just stands near you, etc...

                                        And, when a kid is getting sucked into an out of control anxiety episode, reasoning with them won't work and scolding certainly won't. You can't get sucked in emotionally yourself...for good or for bad. With my son, when he's having an anxious meltdown, I don't sympathize, I empathize in a very matter of fact way. "I can see that you are worried about this" Period. Acknowledge the feeling the kid is having without expressing any emotion yourself or making sympathy gestures like patting and hugging and eye wiping or "poor youing"...trying to calm them down with sympathetic gestures just confirms that they were right to be upset or worried. Kind, matter of fact, unemotional...that's what works with my kid (and the dogs and the horse .

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                                        • #60
                                          Yep, I think Mom needs to go away for a few lessons. Kid is 10, not three, and obviously there is some sort of weird needy/attachment thing there. It's one thing for a toddler to have a fit being left at day care; quite another for a prepubescent girl to have a meltdown because mommy can't tuck her into bed.
                                          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

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