Help! If you have experience of teaching young children(21 Posts)
Ds is nearly 5. I am
desperately keen encouraging him to ride. We have access to a dear pony, ex riding school, very sweet and safe.
Ds is keen to go out on hacks often, currently I lead him on foot. I'm hoping to get to the stage where I can lead from my sensible horse. He's nowhere near there yet though.
He's a bit stuck with trotting - how do I help him rise and get the rhythm? Is he too young to get it? He's been a bit put off but wants to try cantering. Again, really not ready, I'm trying to do things in an ordered, sensible fashion...
So, sorry for rambling but I really want to get this right. Any tips for helping him with riding trot, or tips in general for this age group? He hates pressure so have to bs very gentle.
Probably not a lot of help but I vividly remember my riding teacher yelling "UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN ..." at me as I trotted/bounced around a field. I guess it's just practise.
Miles and miles in the saddle. Try putting him on the lunge. Remember also, its not really an up down motion. Its more of a pelvis rock. Your bum doesnt actually need to leave the saddle. Personally, although I was a lot older, I got it easier bareback, or at least stirrup less and the same went for DD. Go stirrupless and get him to put one hand on the pommel and the other on the cantle. Once you can do really good sitting trot, the rythm for rising is a lot easier.
As for canter, if he doesnt have the balance for trot, then canter is going to be a bad idea. DD started at 4 and was very keen to keep getting faster, but for a long time canter ended in tears!
I don't ride now so no real experienec - but I do remember aged about 6 learning at a riding school - a few lessons with no stirrups meant that rising trot then came really easily! ALso, when I was older and went for lessons again we used to get taught bareback - I could never really get the hang of rising without a saddle but it was amazing watching some of teh wee ones doing a rising trot bareback.
Five is quite young, although obviously all five year olds vary. It is usually the youngest most riding schools will start teaching children to ride, as before that many lack the co-ordination/strength. He should be able to get the idea of rising trot, but it will take longer than with an older child I think.
Get him to practise standing up in the stirrup at halt and walk for balance. Get him to count the "beats" in the trot and count up-down-up-down or 1-2-1-2 then to try and sit and rise at that speed. Get him to use the pommel of the saddle or a neckstrap to balance, don't give him the reins (in trot) until he is secure. Teach him a good sitting trot as well, not just to bounce on the ponies back. Work without stirrups is good for this.
I help at a riding school, and obviously it depends on how often they ride, but it often takes very young children a few months of lessons to get rising trot, which an older child or adult can master in a few weeks. To keep it fun, we play lots of games in walk (gymkana style games) and under 7/8 usually only ride for 1/2 an hour at a time. Trotting is done in lots of short bursts (e.g. one long side of the school, one twenty metre circle) at first.
Personally, I would not let him canter until he is really secure in both rising and sitting trot- for a lot of children when they learn to canter the hardest bit is the downwards transition and this is when they get unseated. Are you able to lead/lunge the canter as this would be safest. I would probably not be happy for a child that young to canter alone (although this would depend on the pony).
Can he do round the world, half scissors, touch his toes etc? First in halt, then in walk?
That's how I did it with dd, the ol' 1-2-1-2 thing, and she picked it up quite quickly (she was about 6). I explained to her that the pony was moving two legs at a time and that was why we were counting 1-2, she understood that and it seemed to help her 'get it'. Also she had a cub saddle at the time with a handle on the front which helped but you can always buy a little strap with
Oops, pressed too soon. Strap with a clip each end that you attach to front d rings if you have an ordinary saddle. Ds has one, I think it cost about a fiver.
My DS who is 5 has been having regular lunge lessons, and done lots of sitting trot, beat counting 1-2-1-2, stirrup less, etc but what has clicked best for him was to get into sitting trot and then "count up-down-up-down" rather than 1-2-1-2, once he's found the rhythm then go into rising, works every time!
My D is nearly 6 (on Monday ) has been learning for a few months and has a good rising trot but did lots of sitting trot first.However when rising steering goes completely out of the window and pony trots in ever decreasing circles.
A Pelham rounding makes a perfect handle for the saddle. I bet there aren't many tack rooms in the world without a couple of odd ones lying about!
I always tell littlies to let the pony bounce them up out of the saddle and then sit again immediately. Counting can help, but with DD's lead rein it was really tricky as he has such a short, quick stride! Make sure your son is relaxed through his jaw, neck and shoulders (DD has a habit of tensing up this way when she is concentrating). I would also second (third?) a grab handle. DD found hers invaluable at this age. When children are this young, reaching forward to grab a neck strap just unbalances them.
I think DD had rising trot sorted by 5, but she had spent a lot of time in the saddle by then and that is essentially what your son needs.
I think lots and lots of stirrup free time (no reins so they don't balance off them) helps a lot, and short bursts of trotting helps hugely. Ds got a bit addicted to his monkey strap, but they are v useful
You also need to work lots on securing his balance and control - games, round the world, bareback riding - in walk.
My ds is 6, and has trotted well since 5, now cantering and starting to jump on his own (which is a blessed relief to me I can tell you since I don't jump lead rein well). Leading off on his own pony isn't going so well, but thats his rather green pony, but he's learnt to deal with spooks etc very well by now and hacks off lead rein within the yards land
I guess sitting trot because I remember being so glad not to have to do it, that I master raising trot. And don't be to hard on him they really really haven't grown enough.
Ok hard is the wrong word, don't him be to hard on his self.
Speed at which they learn depends on the child and being able to hack out also depends on the pony they are on.
My DD is 5, and although she has been on and off the pony since she was 6 months old, she has only just managed to figure rising trot out. She's a member of the PC and goes to rallies, and the instructors there just encourage very small kids to have fun, they will learn eventually! She's been hacking out with me off the lead rein in walk (and occassional bouncy trot) for the last year though - the pony is a superstar and looks after her well. I know children younger than her who are cantering competently, but it's as with all things - at that age it's not a competition between parents as to whose child is progressing the fastest. With regular lessons/bouncing sessions/plods on a lead rein they all seem to reach a point where they can actually learn and be taught effectively when they get to about 6-ish.
DD is slower than I would like at riding, but way above her age group's level for skiing. Her younger cousins swim better than her but she is catching up. DS is much younger, but seems to have a completely different skill set too. I wouldn't be worried at just 5 years old.
PS The only thing I'm hoping is that she can trot in the school off a lead rein before DS catches up with her. He is the keener rider atm, and I can see PC rallies becoming a bit of a juggling act for me!
Sorry not to have returned to this, been so busy and forgot about it! Thank you all for your experience and advice, it's really appreciated. I'll definitely get a handle on the saddle at weekend, I'm sure I can bodge something up
He's got it! Well, sort of. It's not perfect and I'm doing 4-5 steps of trot then back to walk but he's managing to rise and find it comfortable, not bounce and bash like he was!
So pleased, thanks.
I've been teaching about 10 years at a riding school and also freelance, most kids 'get' rising trot quite quicky if taught to let the pony throw them up and they have to control the sitting down slowly, gently and timely ready to be thrown up again. Teaching them to push up usually creates problems in the future when refining their style, too tense in lower leg, behind the motion and using reins for support. No child on our yard holds reins until they can do rising trot no hands on anything, (they start with grab handle ie flash strap between the D rings), for the sake of our ponies mouths !
Thank you, that's really helpful. We'll get back out there tonight after school. I'll tell him that. I was surprised at how naturally good he was; a bit bumpy but the actual movement, relaxed and moving his pelvis forward, not up and down was amazing. Goes to show it probably is easier to learn as a young child. His lower legs were fine too.
Check lower leg position, it it difficult for them to stand up if their legs are too far forwards. If they bring their shoulders forward slightly it is easier for the leg to go back. Also try rising in halt and walk too, sometimes it's easier if they start while pony is walking and then try to keep going as pony goes into trot.
Agree with not holding the reins until they have mastered it too, hold front of saddle
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