Teaching children to ride in other countries

Orangehorse

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From the thread from the lady with the pony on working livery and asking how her child should progress ...........

How is riding taught to children in other countries. In Germany do they put 5 year olds on a large horse and lunge them until they develop "a seat" and then progress to very well schooled (by adults) ponies and horses?

In the USA they get plonked onto a western saddle on a very old horse and let loose for the horse to look after them?

In France (a bit more gung-ho than Germany) what happens? Do we know?

In the UK first we learn to stick on and then when teenagers we learn to ride.
 

Tarragon

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I think that the UK is blessed with so many native pony breeds that we have the option to learn to ride on opinionated (and possibly naughty!) ponies, and, as you suggest, learn to stick on before moving on to horses. A lot of other countries just do not have the pony breeds available.
 

Skib

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In France (a bit more gung-ho than Germany) what happens? Do we know?
In France (some years ago) there were set children's levels and tests, reminiscent of Parelli. I looked at the books in a bookshop. They were possibly called Galop.

And for Germany, I recently bought the book (in English) The Principles of Riding by the German Equestrian Federation. The word children is not in the index.
I bought it because I was writing about Burkner and German military instruction. Burkner was said to be a lasting influence on German riding but I failed to discover anything.

If anyone here has comments or information that would be brilliant,
 

Flicker

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Nothing really formal in South Africa, so no levels or anything. I learnt to ride in a really cool circular pen, which had an outside and inside fence (like a donut). The horse just went round and round in the donut and the instructor stood in the middle. We weren’t allowed to hold the reins until we’d mastered our up-downs. On reflection, i think they possibly missed a trick by giving us stirrups from the start. I think my seat would be better if I’d started without stirrups from the get-go.

On the whole, my lessons in SA taught me to cope with most things - we jumped a lot, and huge, did fast hacks, lots of galloping around etc. However, I very seldom had a teacher who really drummed in the position and balance side of things and certainly nothing about the biomechanics of the horse. As a result, I’ve picked up loads of bad habits that I’m still working to undo.
 

MagicMelon

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Definitely the USA info was right from my experience. I used to ride there several times a year from the age of 7 and was always chucked on a 15.2hh with no riding helmet on and let loose in a large paddock to canter about (to be fair I knew how to ride at that point having got my own pony in the UK). The horses always did know what they were doing and were very well schooled in a Western way. Here, you tend to be plonked on a little shetland or native from a young age and led about. I dontk now whats my correct. Im not sure Id be brave enough to plonk my very small child on a big horse on the lunge / round pen though. I feel our horses here are generally more highly strung than in the USA, Western ones are generally very laid back.
 

HorseMaid

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When I was little my dad lived in Belgium and I used to go and spend the summer there. At the local riding school it was normal for the kids to have lessons on big horses as they didn't really have ponies, think a 7 year old on a 16.2! But they did have lessons like we do here, we also used to go out on hacks but they were so boring because everything was FLAT!
 
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I taught English riding in the US-English seat there wasnt exclusively taught on horses but very small ponies were rare. Personally I liked how I was told to teach English riding there, there was an empahsis on beginners to work on balance and strengthening so lots of two point at halt, walk and then trot always with a neck strap. They were taught to effectively get out of the horses way when riding quite quickly and progress on the whole was much faster than at any English riding school I'd previously worked at. Many of the older kids were really nice riders but these were very rich rids (private girls school in Pennsylvania). The beginners horses were packers, generally easier to get going than fed up native ponies and some of the more advanced horses were quality. There was a lot of bute in use though.

In Portugal, the town I am most familiar with have vaulting club, for free, for any kids that want to go. I dont care much for competitve vaulting but as a foundation for riding I think its fab.

I like a native pony ;) but you know, I've not had one yet that loves trotting in circles for no good reason and there's alot to be said for riding more willing and easy horses when you are learning or just because you want to.
 
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My experience in Poland was riding a little Hucul pony on a lunge until I could rise to a trot with some accuracy without having to hold onto the saddle. Then I graduated straight onto 15 and 16 handers without a lead, having instructions yell at me as I tried to adjust to a completely different trot, often riding horses that weren’t entirely reliable as a kid’s ride in retrospect. Instructor was very laid back. There’s a picture of me somewhere holding onto the saddle for dear life as my 16hh ride has a mini bronc while instructor smokes cigarette in the background, unbothered.

Course, different stables will have different quality instruction - this was a very small relaxed yard. But when I think about it, had I stayed in Poland rather than moving here and having lessons in the UK, I probably would be a much more capable (at staying on) rider.
 

lynz88

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I taught English riding in the US-English seat there wasnt exclusively taught on horses but very small ponies were rare. Personally I liked how I was told to teach English riding there, there was an empahsis on beginners to work on balance and strengthening so lots of two point at halt, walk and then trot always with a neck strap. They were taught to effectively get out of the horses way when riding quite quickly and progress on the whole was much faster than at any English riding school I'd previously worked at. Many of the older kids were really nice riders but these were very rich rids (private girls school in Pennsylvania). The beginners horses were packers, generally easier to get going than fed up native ponies and some of the more advanced horses were quality. There was a lot of bute in use though.
This is similar to Canada. Taught to get out of the horse's way from day 1 and develop your own balance. So much no stirrup work it would make you cry! Also had to be able to do other stuff - I remember jumping a 3'6 grid with no reins, no stirrups, and eyes closed on a habitual refuser (she really taught you NOT to look at the jump!). I also remember the odd full lesson without reins...w/t/c and jumping a grid (we just tied the reins in a knot and could grab if we absolutely needed). Rode hunters and once you understood striding and riding in rhythm, then you could learn jumpers.

We also have rider levels - I grew up in Ontario and did 2/3 of my OEF (Ontario Equestrian Federation) rider levels...before it became a massive money grab and they made it 10 levels. I was always far too tall for ponies so never went through that stage but was well aware of their evilness.
 
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BBP

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I learned in the states and was put onto big horses (I was tiny!) before I was ever allowed to ride a pony. Loads of work in two point, loads and loads of work without stirrups. Intro to jumping involved a lot of grid work with no reins and no stirrups. Less emphasis over there on ‘on the bit’, and more focus on consistent rhythm (as with hunters it’s all about maintaining rhythm to a fence). Think I spent half my time over there without stirrups. Then I was allowed to ride the pony. Once proven riding a stride in Hunter classes we were allowed to try jumpers. Lots of training on jumper turns, jumping on an angle. Walk to canter and Flying changes etc were never a big deal, was just part of the basics of learning.

In terms of learning to ride a horse balance and skill wise it by far exceeded the standards of any riding school I went to in the UK before or after. BUT, my instructor was very tough, and not always that kind or empathetic to the horses, I still have mental scars from her grabbing my reins and hitting the pony as hard as she could because I wouldn’t smack it with the whip. And the pony was ring sour and bored to tears.
 

ycbm

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I lived in Switzerland in 1984/5. There were no ponies, the children all learned on horses a minimum of 15.2, many much bigger. Hacking was considered a bit eccentric, as was wearing a decent hat, and the kids were taught to ride very correctly right from the start, but there wasn't much fun being had that I could see.
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Lindylouanne

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My friend has a riding school in Germany. She has all sizes from Shetlands, tinker ponies and full size Rhinelander horses.

The smaller children start on the Shetlands, two geldings and their father who has always been used in lessons. They then progress to either the tinker ponies or the warmbloods. Once they are competent and can ride to a certain level and are keen to learn she will select a few to teach correctly so they learn on her now elderly dressage horses. The horses are so well schooled if you don’t press the right buttons they won’t do what you want but they were competed at high level by her children when they were teenagers. All the new kids have to learn to handle the ponies, groom and tack up under the direction of the older children and they handle both the stallions once old enough. They ride bareback, learn vaulting, practice games and jump but despite wonderful riding country rarely hack out.
 

Orangehorse

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I know someone, in the UK, who took her children to he Pony Club riding her 15.2 Morgan, which was a big show winner, beautifully schooled, and and a very kind mare.

Pony Club had a fit and insisted that Mother (who was a Morgan trainer too) had to get a pony - she remarked to me that her children were probably a lot safer on her mare than any pony she could get. I appreciate that falling from a horse is a long way down for a child, so I suppose that was the reason the PC people were so upset.
 

DSB

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Australia.Many of us,including me learnt to ride on an older semi retired Stock Horse,that knew much more than any one else and only did as much as they had to.
 

Keith_Beef

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In France (a bit more gung-ho than Germany) what happens? Do we know?
In France (some years ago) there were set children's levels and tests, reminiscent of Parelli. I looked at the books in a bookshop. They were possibly called Galop.
My daughter started riding when we moved back to France in 2012, so she was about to turn ten years old. Prior to that she'd been out on small ponies with me walking alongside leading during the holidays.

She started regular lessons on Shetlands, then moved on to bigger ponies then to what the French call "double poney" and then horses. These were proper lessons, in the arena or covered school, at the same place where I still go (though the management has changed; it's only horses now and the ponies are all at a different yard). The kids started with walk and trot, and learn to use the different aids. Most could usually canter and do small jumps after a couple of years and would go out hacking in the forest in small groups with two instructors. My daughter progressed very quickly; being able to tell left from right and having good core strength (five years of ballet before starting to ride) were very useful.

The different levels are indeed called "Galop", which is a registered trademark of the Fédération Française d'Équitation (FFE).
 

benz

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Also I hope this thread gets more replies as is very interesting to read!

I’ve heard Italy is quite gungho?
My experience of teaching Italian children is they are wrapped up in cotton wool, then bubble wrap, with an extra dash of cotton wool just to make sure 😉 The parents would scream if the kids went into trot 😂😂 but same parents would want to jump on the ex racer, no hat, no experience and gallop about the place, maybe it’s rebellion from being so protected as a child?

I found most yards the smallest ponies were about 14hh so yes I’d say children did learn on bigger ponies/small horses. In the area I lived reining was huge so the kids and adults would all be riding the 14.2s 😂
 
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I taught in Greece for 2 years in the 1980's at a small.private showjumping club . The head trainer was English and most of the horses were English and Irish with a few German ones too . The club members were a mix of rich Greeks and international business men . I was brought in specifically to.teach their children to ride ' English '. Some of the kids had ridden in their home countries , so I had quite a few different styles to accomodate , but few of the Greek kids seemed to have had the opportunity to learn unless they had lived abroad . We had some nice small older show jumpers which suited the older/taller kids and we managed to find a lovely little arab pony , about 13hh from a nearby rescue charity ( the only rescue centre in Greece at the time I think ) and they also gave us ' Pan ', the ugliest pony I've ever seen in my life ! I was told that he was a traditional Greek pony ( think of the stocky roman nosed horses you see on ancient carvings ) but he looked exactly like a cave painting of a prehistoric horse bless him , about 14hh , dirty dun , wispy half tail , barely any mane , no neck and a head like a moose . Lovely nature though and the nervous kids loved him as he was so steady . We'd had him about a year before we accidentally discovered that he could jump ! And then he went on to win loads of Junior classes for years afterwards .
Nb - just remembered having to check the arenas for tortoises and snakes before riding !
 
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Skib

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Our principal RI is British but over the years I have hacked with RS staff from many different countries. A show jumper from Spain (very serious instructor) , an Eventer from South Africa, two French brothers who took holiday work at the RS (ride round trees, never duck under branches). Very expert Polish couple. One escort was from Belarus but could not tell me anything about teaching there. She had been sat on her uncle's horse at his house and left to discover for herself.
 

Durhamchance

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My six year old is currently learning to ride. She started on a Shetland in a riding school and very quickly progressed to having private lessons on a friends very opinionated 13.1 mini cob and my 16hh loan hunter. She's fallen off my boy twice now and after a few tears bounces straight back up and gets back on him. She'll have a wonderful seat as an adult as she's already mastering sitting the spooks.
Luckily our local riding club are very accommodating, and allowed her to take my lad in the lead rein dressage a couple of weeks ago. I've also requested they have a new class for next season- smallest person on the biggest horse. She'll win every time :)
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Pinkvboots

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I used to work for a German woman who had 6 massive dressage horses 2 were stallions and they were trained at different levels but none were below elementary, her 8 and 10 year old daughters rode all of them and I mean proper schooling everyday amazing little riders they were, the horses all had great temperaments and impeccable manners.
 

SEL

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Decades ago now but we got posted to Germany when I was 8 and the riding was a shock to the system. I'd come from riding ponies at a local riding school where we all 'helped' on a Saturday, got on whatever little muddy, hairy pony was allocated to us and jumped, hacked, rode around the village and got dumped when it wanted to go in a different direction etc. The riding club for the military base in Germany used a fabulous enormous riding school with 2 indoor arenas, viewing areas, bar - and just 3 highly strung ponies that were really small warmbloods. The rest were big warmbloods and were on the whole more sane than the 3 ponies. Nothing was turned out.

Lessons were in large groups and I had to learn about lateral work pretty quickly. Massively out of my depth but I wanted to ride so just got on with it. They thought nothing of throwing a small child up on a big horse for a lesson.

Because the riding was all 'between hand and leg' I did develop quite hard hands and when we came back to the UK I had to learn to manage that because UK ponies would bog off in protest. The yard near the base in Wiltshire had a lot of hunters and when they realised I'd been on horses since a tiny kid I got roped into exercising which was good experience. I do think the German riding stood me in good stead for feeling how a horse really on the contact should go, but I don't think I understood quite what I was doing if that makes sense. Massively under appreciated the quality of the horses back then - would love the opportunity to ride many of them these days when I have half a clue about what I'm doing.

I did pop over the border into Holland a few times and the kids were taught in a very similar way. Many years later when I was taking rides out in Australia I had a 20 year old Dutch girl helping me who had ridden since she was a child but had never fallen off because the riding was so controlled. She was horrified when I said I had no idea how many times I'd fallen off but I could remember the ones that hurt.
 
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