Contact? Does anyone teach it?

Caol Ila

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The BTV thread brought this to mind. How common, or not, is it for children's riding instructors to properly teach the kids about contact. I was watching my 11 year old niece have a riding lesson a couple weeks ago, and she and her saint of a pony were doing a course of fences, the pony very out of balance and motorcycling around corners, and my niece's hands were very stiff and rigid, and she repeatedly caught the pony in the mouth over the little fences. Instructor didn't say a freakin' word about it. Didn't tell her how to do a crest release, nothing. I was kind of horrified. After the lesson, I got a chance to have a wee ride on the pony, and found that the pony can certainly go in a nice soft outline and bend, but like any horse, not without an elastic connection.

You can understand, kids wanting to get on to fun things like jumping as quickly as possible, but really?

How much of a thing is this?

And no, I can't help my niece out on a regular basis because they live in Hampshire and I live in Scotland.
 

Moomin1

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I think a lot of it is down to people wanting NOW these days, rather than putting the time, effort and money in to learn, or pay for their children to learn properly before they 'progress' onto owning their own, or jumping etc and the other 'fun' stuff. I have to say, I am horrified at the general standard of a lot of kids who purport to have regular lessons now - hands flapping, yanking, and what is going on with jumping positions?? It appears common to see kids sit or stand bolt upright whilst going over jumps these days.
 

Caol Ila

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Yeah, the instructor didn't say a word about my niece's position, an unstable lower leg, which caused her to collapse over the jumps, hence grabbing the pony in the mouth as she lost balance. She was just obsessed with the kid counting strides to the fences. I wasn't impressed.
 

PaddyMonty

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It's not just the kids.
I was assistant course builder at an annual charity show at the weekend. Classes from 60cm to 1mtr. Age range of riders probably 7 to 50.
Without exception every single rider folded OVER their hands using them to support their poor position by leaning on horses neck (mostly withers). Few had any concept of rhythm, balance, impulsion on approach.
The general standard of instruction these days must be lacking. Watched a dressage lesson last night (a livery) and can honestly say my daughter has more knowledge than the instructor. Made worse by the fact that I have ridden the horse and know how it can go / what it's capable off.
So sad.
 

Farma

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I have started teaching only recently and am picking up clients gradually by word of mouth. The surprising thing is that each one is experienced but say I am the first person to work on position first and foremost which I have found quite amazing, how can anything improve if there are flaws in the basics?
I guess though every instructor can criticise another for what they are or are not doing but I have been amazed so far that it seems all about what the horse should be doing with very little emphasis on the importance of correct riding!
 

_GG_

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I have started teaching only recently and am picking up clients gradually by word of mouth. The surprising thing is that each one is experienced but say I am the first person to work on position first and foremost which I have found quite amazing, how can anything improve if there are flaws in the basics?
I guess though every instructor can criticise another for what they are or are not doing but I have been amazed so far that it seems all about what the horse should be doing with very little emphasis on the importance of correct riding!
Echo this. The way we hold ourselves and position ourselves on our horses has an enormous impact on their way of going. It should be the first thing any instructor addresses and an instructor that doesn't is not a good one IMO where there is an obvious position fault.

Regarding teaching contact, it is scary to be honest. I used to teach a young girl and we'd sometimes spend 40 minutes working on her understanding, engaging the horse, having the right feel and when it all came together, she'd have 15-20 minutes of her pony going beautifully. She'd be in tears at how wonderful it felt. I'd go up a few days later and she'd be having a lesson with a BHSI and all I would hear from the instructor was, "get her more round" or, "good, but she needs to be rounder" with NOT ONE mention of how or why.

I stopped teaching in the end, much to the mums annoyance. She didn't pay me anyway, but got quite annoyed that I was there, but didn't want to teach. So I asked her, "do you want someone to teach her how to get the best out of her pony or do you just want her to know how to pull the head in and look pretty?"...her answer, "**ck it...she can use the chambon then, it's easier".

So...she used the chambon at home, constant photo's and videos being posted of the super pony. Out at comps, pony was a machine jumping and cross country, but dressage marks always terrible and always with comments of, "very unsettled in contact" "Head Tossing" and rider comments of "must keep hand still" and "needs to give a kinder contact" as the moment the chambon came off, the see sawing started.

It kills little parts of me inside. It's really not that hard to achieve if you have a good instructor. :(
 

PaddyMonty

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The surprising thing is that each one is experienced but say I am the first person to work on position first and foremost which I have found quite amazing, how can anything improve if there are flaws in the basics?
I'm not surprised. I do a small amount of teaching and always start with a new pupil by saying "The horse is a reflection of the rider. Remove the blocks the rider unknowingly places on the horse through poor position / conflicting aids and the horse will change beyond recognition"
Many riders have little understanding of even the basics of how the positioning of their weight affects the horse.
 

Supanova

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Not really answering the question in this thread but i think there is a massive issue with how riding is taught in this country. As others have said above, very few people tell the rider how to achieve certain things with their bodies. Nearly everyone i have ever had a lesson with says things like "get her rounder", "don't let her fall in to the right" "don't let her lean on the right rein", "don't let her run round the corner" .........i could go on. Whenever i have asked "how?", i am met with blank stares and a "just do it" response. Even the people who do look at a rider's position are usually only looking at it on a superficial level i.e. they may say heels down, sit up, soft hands etc but they don't really address all the muscle use required to be able to do this without disrupting the entire position. I think a lot of people think that no muscles should be required to ride a horse and its just a matter of sitting there and relaxing!! The other issue is that over time the rider then causes issues with the horse - back problems, lameness etc. I reckon we would have more sound horses if we had more riders who focussed on their bodies.

I think this is why so many people have had light bulb moments in relation to GG's previous posts because GG is actually telling people how to use their bodies. I have recently re-read my Mary Wanless book (which is the best explanation i have found of how a rider should use their body) and just implementing a few of the things has made such a difference to my riding and the way the horse goes. It seems to be that talented riders use their bodies in the right way but most have absolutely no idea what they do with them so cannot tell anyone else. I am sure that if riding was taught differently then there would be many more "talented riders" out there and not 1000s of amateurs, plateauing and often causing damage to their horses in the process.

Sorry bit of a rant!!
 

Caol Ila

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Poor horse, GG!

Admittedly, my first instructor, at age 7 in the early 90s, did not emphasise position either, but then I got an instructor when I was 12 who was completely posiition focused (and mine was appalling) and I spent around four months on the lunge line. I didn't like it, but tough. In retrospect, it was a damned good thing.

When I teach now, I find a lot of people don't want four months of lunge lessons, they want to get cantering, trail riding, jumping, now. I have spent a lot of time explaining the connection between lousy riding and horse so-called misbehaviour. I like using my horse, especially, because she's reliable and will reliably not trot at all if someone is hopelessly unbalanced. You don't need to be Carl Hester, you just need to ride well enough so you can communicate with your horse, not fall off, and so carrying your fat butt around is as comfortable as possible for him

My niece's pony is a saint. Total saint. Hope she doesn't lose that good attitude. A less forgiving horse might be a great teacher, though the trainer would probably have the kid smack the horse if it refused the fence.
 
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Goldenstar

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I think teaching postion to riders is out of fashion a bit ATM even with children .
Which is a great pity as once someone has instilled the basic postion in a rider you can then be trained to work the horse .
You need to work on developing position through out you riding life .
I don't train people to teach anymore but wonder if the quite rigid way I was trained to approach starting riders has it's benefits because of it's focus on rider basics .
With children it is possible to combine fun with age appropriate position training .
Working hard on your own position always pays you back what ever level you are at.
 

Wishful

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Where I ride you do get taught about contact, but only once you are in a good enough basic position. If the rider isn't in a generally balanced position there is no chance of a steady contact.

I'm just starting to work on getting the horse to work rounder- jumping was a big revelation for me- dropping the horse before the fence is unhelpful and having really loose reins makes you more likely to catch the horse in the mouth- having a contact and allowing hands forward as required rather than chucking the reins at the horse when he's barely stretched over a small jump.

Instructors prioritise faults so for me for when jumping it's all about canter, rhythm and soft knees/arms, weight on the feet and not getting ahead of the movement or dropping the horse in front of the fence. Actually folding is less of a priority for 60cm...
 

charlie76

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I teach both at the same time, its important to influence the horses way of going at the same time working on the riders position. Eventually both gel together.
 

Clever pony

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At my stables we get taught how to get a horse in a nice outline properly with our lower backs and if we do a lousy jumping round we get told off and are made to do it again properly!! I think it's a good system
 

viola

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There is very little of correct riding being taught at riding school level. I used to think it's "just" the places I worked at or visited but as most of my clients nowadays are those who either can no longer cope with being told to pull and kick or their parents seek different style instruction, I know for sure it's bad on a larger scale.

I teach contact through seat first, then through the reins once the rider has relative ability to stabilise torso over mobile pelvis. I teach kids the same as adults in that respect and do teach them exactly what each rein aid means and how it influences balance in the horse. Both on the flat and jumping.
However, I personally don't believe in teaching how to school the horse before the rider can control own body in all basic paces and so if I have someone lacking the basics they need to do the seat training first.

I might be wrong (and hope I am) but from my experience of freelancing in many riding schools it seems that teaching good basics to kids and adults is not the aim of the establishments.
 

EveningStar

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Living in New Zealand with so much access to horses I was never taught to ride as such, would just hop on people's ponies and go for it. As a teenager I was taught by many different people and never for a consistent amount of time and so never learnt anything helpful about position or contact etc. I learnt more in my years of not riding and being on forums than I did having lessons every week. Getting back into riding and wanting to do it properly I've found it very hard to find someone who will actually teach me rather than just say "that was good" when even I know it wasn't. It is also really difficult to undo all the years of bad habits that I've learned, If I had had someone teach me properly in the first place I would be so much better off. I used to have my horse at a riding school and I would always cringe to see kids who couldn't rise to the trot being put over jumps. Sure it might be fun but it isn't doing the pony or the kid any real good. I can certainly understand wanting to make it fun and easy for young children but when it comes at the cost of their knowledge and understanding later on it doesn't make much sense to me.
 

Tnavas

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I owned a riding school for many years - my instructors were told quite firmly they were there to TEACH the children not just give them things to do! Eg From Walk - Prepare to trot, shorten reins as your pony shortens its neck as it goes into trot, tap with both legs, trot on. Rider knows HOW to trot on

I listen to coaches at Pony Club - give the riders tasks rather than teach them the correct aids.

I ask children at PC exams - What aids did you use to ask your pony to slow down - I get looked at like I have just grown horns.

At the weekend our PC area ran a coaches course. One of my pupils was a demo rider and they were waiting to jump and I asked her if she had shortened her stirrups as they looked too long for jumping - A coach on the course (one I know well) said "She's comfortable with that length" My reply - YOU are the coach - your job is to help the rider improve, she won't improve with her legs wobbling around. Her stirrups are too long. GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!

Some riders just want to be told how awesome they are and get snotty if you correct them.

I recently taught a child having problems getting her pony better balanced in canter - I told her to go as fast as she could on the long side and slow down for the corner - immediately better balanced pony - comment to rider - if you want better balance you need to send the pony forward into the contact. She needed to have an effect with her legs. Watched her at the weekend and canter much improved.
 

dibbin

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I started learning in 1996 at the age of 8. I spent about 10 weeks having lessons only in walk while the instructor taught me how to sit correctly on the pony. I was only allowed to trot once I could do it all properly in walk.

My instructor now is fantastic, . I haven't had lessons (or ridden regularly) for a few years and Jazz has almost 3 months off at the start of the year, but we're both coming on in leaps and bounds.
 
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Kylara

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It always infuriates me how children are told how to ride. Squash and sit deep to stop and if that doesn't work pull on reins. The first thing I always do is teach people how to go down a transition properly. Halting may take you 5 or 6 paces before it happens that way, but the more you do it the quicker it happens.

I am of the opinion that you should explain why and how you want people to do it regardless of if they are children or not. Children are not stupid and I have found that they appreciate being treated as such.

I always focus on rider position first and I offer ridden lunge lessons that purely focus on the rider's position. If you have a bad position your horse won't go well and if your horse won't go well and you aren't sitting properly how on earth are you supposed to get a horse working happily into the contact and then rounding nicely and offering a nice outline because of how he is going?

I also don't like it when instructors just say go and do this and then don't explain, how, why, or whether you are doing it right and getting the right result.

Riders I teach may not feel that they are doing much in the first few lessons but then once I have sorted them out, their horse works better and previously difficult maneuvers are a bit easier than they were before.

Totally agree with you on that not many people teach anymore, they just set tasks and let people get on with it regardless of whether they are doing it correctly or not! :)
 

siennamum

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I wonder to what degree teaching children has fallen victim to H&S.

The first lessons I recall were doing round the world, scissors & endless riding without stirrups. Developing some balance & the rudiments of an independent seat used to be the first thing you did at the RS, and it was always absolutely mandatory that you had head hip & heel alignment & a straight line from elbow to bit. One of the first things I recall was being asked to look at my knee & ensure I could never see my toe. I also recall being shown how to look at a horses hoofprints to ensure it is tracking up. These days kids seem to be led round endlessly in rides, before being pointed at a fence and told to get the pony over it!
I see pictures in riding magazines demonstrating lessons from apparently qualified people and the riders are in a completely incorrect position, it makes me despair.
 

Tapir

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Totally agree about the folding over the hands when jumping thing. I was at an unaff sj this weekend and hardly any riders moved their hands forward over the fences. The pro photos that have been posted on facebook are awful, and even worse, people are liking the photos so can clearly see nothing wrong when the poor horse/pony just looks so unhappy.
 

Moomin1

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One 'fashion' which I have seen a fair bit over the past couple of years is the ridiculous habit of walking around a corner, then suddenly letting/pushing the horse to go flat out at a jump. Do people not get taught to trot/canter a circuit etc and approach a jump in a nice steady, balanced fashion these days? I have seen it with quite a few of the younger riders so it does seem to be a teaching thing rather than individual fault.
 

chestnut cob

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One 'fashion' which I have seen a fair bit over the past couple of years is the ridiculous habit of walking around a corner, then suddenly letting/pushing the horse to go flat out at a jump. Do people not get taught to trot/canter a circuit etc and approach a jump in a nice steady, balanced fashion these days? I have seen it with quite a few of the younger riders so it does seem to be a teaching thing rather than individual fault.
Have never ever seen that! How odd. What I did see recently at UA SJ was an awful lot of kids with the most expensive show jackets, sparkly boots, string of several (probably v expensive but also v fat) ponies which were being razzed around flat out. Never seen anything like it. One little brat in particular chasing the horse around a 70cm course absolutely flat out, pony losing its back end every time it went around a corner, eventually dumped the kid (parents cheering her on the whole time) in front a fence because it was terrified and didn't have time to work out what it was doing. She had a screaming fit, caught pony and belted it with a whip. All the while all the spectators and organisers are making a fuss about how naughty the pony was... kid was maybe 10 or 11, she'd booted (wearing big spurs) it around the course flat out, it had a dutch gag on bottom ring, was totally upside down, out of balance, not being given chance to assess the fences, and they all wondered why it had stopped. She got back on, attempted to jump another round, same thing happens and again, pony is shouted at for being naughty. Kid has a tantrum about how much she hates the naughty pony, fetches another the lorry and it starts all over again. I lost count of just how many of these little brats there were that day. Who on earth teaches them to kick and whip the horses around SJ courses absolutely flat out? Someone seems to have created a generation of horrible little people who will never turn into good horsemen and women :(
 

Prince33Sp4rkle

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ive just started teaching a lovely lady on a cobby native x spotty sort. Very nice moving mare, super canter but despite having lessons from a listed judge for 3 years, she has never been taught(or even told, or hinted at) to:

* bend the horse using her inside leg
*keep an outside rein contact at all ever
* use one sharp aid to send the horse forward rather than nagging
*use her core muscles or seat in transitions

the previous instructor couldn't explain how to perform a soft engaged halt and never pointed out to her that the mare falls out the shoulder in upward transitions and that her medium trot was just running! the list goes on.....

my mind is utterly boggled.

a few corrections later and shes doing a lot of elem work in a very consistent but soft,elastic outline and is really starting to think forward 100% of the time!
 

Kylara

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Who on earth teaches them to kick and whip the horses around SJ courses absolutely flat out? Someone seems to have created a generation of horrible little people who will never turn into good horsemen and women :(
Sadly probably no-one or just an older PC kid.

It is strange what people never get taught, nagging is one I try to pick up every time I see it as it is a habit many people don't realise they are doing.

Best new client for me is one I taught an assessment lesson (my first lesson is always assessment with a little bit of new stuff in) with and she wanted to do a dressage competition, we did some work on circles, transitions and markers (aiming for and turning at) and she came 4th and then she won the next one she did! :) But it is so rewarding as a teacher to see the improvement once they are corrected! :)
 

shampain

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The way in which riding is taught in this country never fails to frustrate me (and increasingly so). Before heading to portugal as a WP I'd had maybe 10 different instructors within 17-odd years of riding; I'd say that of those, maybe 2 taught me anything of serious use. The first was a truly old-school instructor who I used to work for in exchange for rides when I went to stay with my Aunt in wales; she terrified me, but was a brilliant teacher (a fact which I, of course, only realised when I went back for a month or so a couple of times in my teens). The second was a Mary Wanless/RWYM trained instructor (however ultimately, this didn't work for me as it made me tight and tense, though the increased awareness of biomechanics has helped beyond words).

Heading to portugal was a total lightbulb moment; training was primarily by the Portuguese head rider, but also occasionally from the English, Enlightened Equitation-trained owner of the place. Two completely different but surprisingly complementary styles which completely turned around how I ride. I was finally taught how to have a dynamic, elastic contact and how to use it to the best effect.
I'll never forget being told that traditionally, Portuguese children start off on the lunge, essentially with a volting roller (so no stirrups, reins, or even saddle!) and only once they're capable of walking, trotting, cantering, and performing various simple vaulting movements in good balance are they allowed to ride independently. I don't know whether it still holds true, but compare that to the education that children have in English riding schools and... well... there really is no comparison.

To be frank, even riding for an eventer, the single thing that he ever said to me was 'get it round', 'I want him deeper', 'round him up with the hands'. Then there are the parents who say the same to their children, but couldn't tell you why on earth 'an outline' might be perceived to be desirable, or the slightest thing about working a horse correctly engaged. I fail to see how anyone can think that sawing or sponging incessantly on the reins will lead to a horse who's happy to take a consistent contact forward. But meet the instructors, and it explains everything... to be brutally frank, being BHS qualified means very little these days in terms of skill. It's just like with school exams; learn a method well enough to regurgitate it when required.
 

Farma

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ive just started teaching a lovely lady on a cobby native x spotty sort. Very nice moving mare, super canter but despite having lessons from a listed judge for 3 years, she has never been taught(or even told, or hinted at) to:

* bend the horse using her inside leg
*keep an outside rein contact at all ever
* use one sharp aid to send the horse forward rather than nagging
*use her core muscles or seat in transitions

the previous instructor couldn't explain how to perform a soft engaged halt and never pointed out to her that the mare falls out the shoulder in upward transitions and that her medium trot was just running! the list goes on.....

my mind is utterly boggled.

a few corrections later and shes doing a lot of elem work in a very consistent but soft,elastic outline and is really starting to think forward 100% of the time!
AH yes outside outside rein is another one that nobody ever seems to deal with!
 

MyDogIsAnIdiot

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I learnt in a riding school that didn't allow you to progress to the 'fun' things until you had an independent seat and soft, still hands. I spent two years (one lesson a week :p) trotting without stirrups before they'd even entertain the idea of letting me canter. There were no 'pushy' parents questioning why their kids weren't cantering/jumping - the instructors knew best. Just before I stopped riding there (I rode there from age 5-17) I noticed a lot more of the pushy parents appear. The children would have a few lessons and then when they weren't progressing fast enough for the non-horsey parents they'd be moved to a different stables that would let them jump straight away; there were a few who came back to my RS with no confidence after being at this place. It's perhaps a reflection on the 'I want it /now/' attitude that society has to everything, and the peer pressure in person and online to be jumping the biggest on the naughtiest pony - just because you can jump 4ft it doesn't mean you're a good rider.

Up until a month ago I was taking my young horse to pony club rallies and helping out at events etc. but have had to leave because I can't bite my tongue anymore! Teenagers going round sawing on the mouth, kicking, hitting, and shouting at their ponies because they don't magically know what the rider wants, and no one was picking up on it. None of the parents, instructors, spectators at shows. I had a rather enlightening discussion with someone fairly high-up the PC chain about this going on (she initiated the discussion after seeing me cringe at one rider) and the fact is that if a branch isn't doing all of the fun stuff then people don't go to rallies. I've seen it myself; a normal rally will have 2 groups with about 10 riders in, but if they're told it's a flatwork rally you're lucky to get 5 people total. Learning to help your horse work well just isn't 'interesting'. And don't get me started on the jumping 'positions' 0.0 Ponies with very strong bits in and a rider using the reins to haul themselves out of the saddle, wayward lower legs, no contact between rider and saddle while going over the jump, chasing into the jump and burying the pony deep then smacking the hell out of it when it takes a pole/refuses. The worst of this was at an ODE but only in the 2 smallest classes (65cm and 85cm) and the worst riders in those classes were the teenagers with the 'experienced' ponies.

I was having lessons with a dressage rider from Belgium, who learnt from someone who trained at the SRS, and it transformed my riding and we were making great progress until horse outgrew her saddle. He's more of a 'classical' persuasion but the first thing he did was hold one end of the reins and show me how much contact there should be - not at all featherlight, and quite a bit more than I was expecting! No one had actually taken the time to show me that. He's also quite happy to get on my horse (she's 15hh, he's 6'4 - it's like a comedy sketch) and show me if I'm struggling to do something or confusing her. We made more progress in 3 weeks with him than in 8 months with Pony Club and one of their instructors outside of rallies.
 

viola

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I learnt in a riding school that didn't allow you to progress to the 'fun' things until you had an independent seat and soft, still hands.
I continue to teach in this manner and yes, some parents are just not prepared to even try to understand the implications the child/teenager is having on the pony whilst "having fun"...they are not prepared to wait and allow the young riders to learn properly.

There is definitely a skill to running technical lessons in as fun a way as possible without damaging the horses yet maintaining the interest and excitement in the novice rider. I sit once a week with various exercises I have in my programmes and try to find a way to make them challenging to the rider in an engaging way that doesn't involve bullying the horse. Short In-hand work/groundwork is fabulous for that I find as all dressage/flatwork movements can be taught and the need to communicate with the horse becomes very obvious if the tasks are to be done well.

It's somewhat interesting to watch the decrease in numbers of rider in riding schools - I wonder how much decrease will have to be noted until it becomes obvious that "fun factor" alone is not the driving force behind love of horses and riding. How can we fathom the logic of telling a child to look after the pony but to boot/kick it properly before the jump nevertheless??

See sawing and other rein bullying is an absolute pet hate of mine too :(
 

viola

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Echo this. The way we hold ourselves and position ourselves on our horses has an enormous impact on their way of going. It should be the first thing any instructor addresses and an instructor that doesn't is not a good one IMO where there is an obvious position fault.

Regarding teaching contact, it is scary to be honest. I used to teach a young girl and we'd sometimes spend 40 minutes working on her understanding, engaging the horse, having the right feel and when it all came together, she'd have 15-20 minutes of her pony going beautifully. She'd be in tears at how wonderful it felt. I'd go up a few days later and she'd be having a lesson with a BHSI and all I would hear from the instructor was, "get her more round" or, "good, but she needs to be rounder" with NOT ONE mention of how or why.

I stopped teaching in the end, much to the mums annoyance. She didn't pay me anyway, but got quite annoyed that I was there, but didn't want to teach. So I asked her, "do you want someone to teach her how to get the best out of her pony or do you just want her to know how to pull the head in and look pretty?"...her answer, "**ck it...she can use the chambon then, it's easier".

So...she used the chambon at home, constant photo's and videos being posted of the super pony. Out at comps, pony was a machine jumping and cross country, but dressage marks always terrible and always with comments of, "very unsettled in contact" "Head Tossing" and rider comments of "must keep hand still" and "needs to give a kinder contact" as the moment the chambon came off, the see sawing started.

It kills little parts of me inside. It's really not that hard to achieve if you have a good instructor. :(
That's so sad. I had a similar experience but with an adult rider. Her horse improved, became more supple and so much happier in 3 months she had lessons with me but when I suggested she needed another month to consolidate everything (it was a 4 year old) she said she didn't want to spend any more time on basic training because she took him out competing (show-jumping) and they are having great results so no need for more suppleness and contact training.

Saw them recently - in spurs and horse pulled all over the place.

Sometimes I despair and blame myself for not being able to get through to the rider as surely I should have good enough arguments up my sleeve by now :-/ Sadly, some horses just perform amazingly despite the abuse :(
 

PaddyMonty

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Sometimes I despair and blame myself for not being able to get through to the rider as surely I should have good enough arguments up my sleeve by now :-/ Sadly, some horses just perform amazingly despite the abuse :(
I think you have to look at the aspirations of the rider before blaming yourself.
If they only really believe they will ever do lower level comps then they may well think that as long as they can do that and get the results then all is well. Those riders who have set their goals high will probably be more prepared to get the basics really established before rushing up the levels.
I asked my instructor (list 1 Judge) how far he honestly thought spring could go. Without hesitation he came back with "all the way". Had he said elem, poss med then I might have moved on more quickly. As it is we are still working on getting the basics really established because I don't want a hole in his training to come back and bite us in the ass later on.
You see it all too often in dressage. As soon as someone breaks the 65% barrier they move up a level. 65% means you are only satisfactory in half the movements and fairly good in the other half. That to me means there is still work to do at that level, not time to move up.
 
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