Teaching a child to ride

MyBoyChe

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Are there any riding instructors on here who would be happy to answer a couple of questions I have about the best way to start an 8yr beginner off. I have the child, I have the pony, my mind has just gone completely blank about how you actually start to learn :)
 

be positive

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9 July 2011
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I keep it simple, show them how to get on, sort everything out but keep the reins twisted out of reach, they can hold the front of the saddle until they find their balance, get walking with you leading, do some walk halt transitions checking their position and encouraging them to sit correctly, talk about what and why you are doing so, first lesson will usually have a few short trots, talk about the way the pony moves and explain rising, end with some exercises to gain confidence.
Next time I lunge, aiming to get the rising, more exercises for balance and see how they progress, they will possibly get reins to hold for a walk round at the end and start to learn a little about steering but until they have a balanced rising trot they will not really go loose, progress varies so dont expect too much, children do get bored but dont make lessons too complex, repeat everything and be ready to change the way you put it if they dont understand, most need no more than 30 mins and will learn faster if they have more frequent short lessons.
Hope that helps, happy to give more if you want.
 

Red-1

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Recently bought into cob culture.
Yes, safety and confidence is everything. It does not matter that much at that age/stage if they learn anything at all, as long as it is an enjoyable experience. They will be ;earning simply by being there.

I always have a lead rein until the rider is ready for the lunge (as in stable in the saddle at walk and trot and able to initiate an emergency stop!). If the pony is saintly then one person is fine, but f the pony is an unknown quantity then you need 2 people. One person has the pony, the other one is in charge, has a hand on the child's knee for anything new, directs operations and is insufferably jolly (LOL only joking, it is fun so I generally am insufferably (to others) jolly as I find teaching someone new, the secret that is horse riding, absolutely jolly-making).

Usually I wold choose a nice day - an 8 yo won't be having fun if they are cold and wet.

I spend quite a while in halt just allowing them to feel what it is like up there, the slight movement of a living animal can be off-putting to some, even at halt.

Beware of adjusting the girth without warning, I have seen little ones disturbed when the saddle flap is lifted. Spend time on the stirrups, it all adds to them feeling comfortable and in control if you take it steady getting the stirrups so they are easily resting their feet. I usually have them a bt short for what people say is right for the first few times as the child can curl up a bot when worried.

I always explain what I am going to do before I do it, again, if a child is on high alert, they can be worried if the horse starts to walk and you have not told. them that we will be walking, we will walk to the gate (or wherever- but a short distance for the first movement), I want you to move your legs against the pony's side, and when we get to the gate you will tighten the rein to stop - or a longer explanation, but also with the reassurance that I am in control of the pony so you can't really get it wrong.

Once we have walked the short distance then we have a chat about how that felt, a giggle, how it felt to give instructions, and ask if they would like to go again for a half circuit of the school. Rinse and repeat.

I introduce turns etc and spend quite a while in walk, doing some, refining at halt and doing some more. At this stage I don't do much correction while they are moving as they are overwhelmed by all the new feelings to take in technical information.

Once the child is giving signals to start, stop and turn then will ask if they want to trot. I will explain that trot is like us running as opposed to walking. I ask what the difference is between walking and running, and they learn about the moment of suspension = more bounce. We do rising trot from the start, and explain that this will stop the bounce, then we practice the stand up/sit down at halt and walk.

I have a D strap as neck straps are generally either too far forwards for a little one to use and stay upright, or too loose to be of any use. Holding under the front of the saddle is also good. Again, the first trot is generally just a very short distance as they may be overwhelmed. I always hold the knee of the child whilst the leader controls the pony. The rider uses the leg to start trotting so they feel in control. A hand on the knee stops the knee flying up.

Once you have discussed and improved, go half the school a few times, discussing and improving. During these trots I do call up, down in time, as they likely won't get the time.

Once they get the up/down we will go full laps of the school.

This is generally where I would stop the lesson, on a high. It will generally have been an hour, but slowly slowly, loads of rests and chats and only trot in the last 10 minutes, with most of that time wise being at halt/walk and chat.

For the second lesson we would re-cap what we have done, and if the pony is great and the rider can not only do the up/downs but also pull up, then we would move to the lunge.
 

Leo Walker

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Are there any riding instructors on here who would be happy to answer a couple of questions I have about the best way to start an 8yr beginner off. I have the child, I have the pony, my mind has just gone completely blank about how you actually start to learn :)
do you want me to come over and give you a hand one day? I don't teach anymore but did for the best part of a decade, mainly with kids.
 

scruffyponies

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1 March 2011
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NW Hampshire
We start lots of kids, but in a very relaxed way. Put child on pony, show them how to hold reins, and set off on a group ride, gently correcting child as we go. We are very fortunate to have ponies who will happily and safely carry the little ones regardless of whether they're doing it right... we once managed almost a mile with pony's reins crossed under his jaw. I swear I saw the pony roll his eyes as he ignored the (opposite) rein.

With just one pony and one child to worry about, I would go for a walk alongside the child rider. Start on the lead rein if you don't trust the pony, but reduce your input as soon as possible. As child gets more confident, get them to stop the pony whilst you walk ahead, then start when you stop. Play grandmother's footsteps to get them used to proper transitions. Get them to steer around lamp posts or whatever. Once they can stop, start and steer, you should be able to ride out with them.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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28 February 2011
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I put my nephew on a totally unsuitable pony in the hopes that he would not enjoy it/fall off and not want to do it again ...

He fell off into a patch of stinging nettles and asked for a different pony the next time he came to ride ...

To be fair he was actually quite a natural rider so it was easy I just don't like kids! I taught him to walk and trot on the lead rein then he went to a riding school to learn to canter and that's when it all went to pot! He gave up less than a year later.
 

MyBoyChe

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17 April 2008
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Thank you all, really really helpful. Its over 50 years since I learnt and you just do it dont you, without thinking about how you do it..I am about to start teaching my grand daughter and really dont want to get it wrong, she is mad keen and has spent all winter helping me with all the crap jobs and never once moaned about it. We have now bought a little Sec b for her to play about with and see how she gets on :) Leo, will pm you this evening when Ive recharged the battery on laptop x
 
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