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DDs lesson content - does this sound ok?

(16 Posts)
Dizzbomb Sat 13-Dec-14 00:53:41

Hi TR residents.

A little bit of relevant background first of all - My daughter is 5, and she is a profoundly deaf cochlear implant user. Due to the fact that i could not find a riding instructor in a school who could sign, I got a pony on part loan for her and decided to teach her myself - i've been around and ridden and owned horses for 12 years.

We have had a few stumbling blocks - For example, her implants come off when she is trotting or cantering, so i am unable to correct her beyond basic quick signs whilst she is physically riding. We eventually mastered rising trot when i showed her me doing a very exagerated rise in the trot! She just got on and did it after that. So there are some things i have to improvise a bit to find a way to explain to her as lack of verbal communication while she is riding does put us at a disadvantage and as you know, having the theory explained to you on the ground is not the same as getting on and being taken through it step by step.

I would love to hear some thoughts on how i've been structuring and handling our lessons. DD is very keen to learn new things and gets such a sense of pride from getting a new thing right.

So, initially we had been using a lunge line as a lead rein is impractical due to having to sign a lot. We obviously begin with a warm up in walk trot and canter. Before starting i will give her a target - For example, to sit up straighter, or to focus on lookinng ahead, or to think about sitting deeper in the saddle. We will then stop and discuss what what good and what can be improved. Slowly but surely they are coming together and she is doing things automatically. After the warm up we take her hat off to put her magnety thing back on and have a verbal discussion on what was good, what to improve etc.

We have recently started coming off the lunge, because i had noticed that she does not put much effort into turning or changing rein. One session off the lunge improved this dramatically. So at this point hat goes back on nd we come off the lunge. At the moment we are mainly practising turning, changing reins and keeping her hands low and still - Off the lunge she tends to bring her hands up n the trot. She is getting better as she has realised that when she brings her hands up it unbalances her and the pony. So she is putting more effort in there now. she often will struggle to understand a verbal explanation and it only clicks once shes experienced it the wrong way.

We then will do a small fun activity of her choosing. Usually trotting without stirrups, trotting with hands on her head for 3 strides (I like to incorporate balance things in because of her being deaf she is more unbalanced and again have seen an improvement in how her weight distributes as at one ppoint shed have her weight totally in one leg and it looked like she had one short leg and one long leg), around the world, and this week she wanted a got at doing a reining spin (I ride western too). Obviously she didnt execute the move haha she did get him to spin in a fashion and was chuffed with herself.

Then she cools off and will practise turning again on large circles for the cool off.

Please give me your thoughts on this. she doesn't seem to struggle with it. We try to hack out regularly too as i am keen for her to just have miles in the saddle without any sort of pressure which she loves.

Would you be happy with this lesson structure? I never force her into doing anything, If she says she doesnt want to ride at all then she isnt made to. I do try to encourage her to try again if she struggles with something and modify it to make it a bit easier which has proven to be a good way to boost her confidence when she tries again next time.

Open to any advice but again please keep in mind that her deafness does cause us to have to be inventive, i never deliberately dismiss good advice but sometimes things simply aren't workable in the usual way and we have to find ways around that smile

Sorry for the long post smile

Dizzbomb Sat 13-Dec-14 00:55:00

I will point out as well - I know i come across as a bit pushy/controlling here, But theyre things DD wants to learn. If she said to me 'i just want to plod around on the lead rein' i would have no problem with that either smile

caroldecker Sat 13-Dec-14 01:19:37

Have you thought about having an instructor whilst you sign/translate? May make things easier as 2 sets of hands?

caroldecker Sat 13-Dec-14 01:20:12

Posting due to hearing rather than any skill in horses

Dizzbomb Sat 13-Dec-14 01:27:11

Carol - I discussed it with my own instructor but its not really practical because then she'd be trying to focus on two people as she wont just ignore one (Whenever the young girl at the yard tries to help bless her DD just gets flustered and annoyed because she cant physically watch two people at once).

meerschweinchen Sat 13-Dec-14 08:49:42

Wow, I'm just really impressed that your daughter is only 5 and can do all that! Sounds like you're doing brilliantly.

Booboostoo Sat 13-Dec-14 10:24:34

To be honest I would worry this type of lesson is very intense for a 5yo and will put her off riding. Why not take her out on a lead rein hack in walk and then do a bit of touching the horse's ears/tail and round the world before calling it a day?

RinkyTinkTen Sun 14-Dec-14 10:43:53

I have no experience of deafness but I think this sounds fine. Could you get someone to lead her and you sign? I appreciate that she'll be unable to watch 2 people at the same time, but perhaps this could work to help her progress?

I don't think you come across as pushy at all fwiw, even though my dd is only 2, I've learnt you can't really make a small child do anything they don't want to!

TeenagersDriveMeMad Sun 14-Dec-14 11:05:45

It might be worth contacting your local RDA and seeing if they've got any experience or can advise of an instructor who can sign?

The lesson structure sounds good though smile.

Dizzbomb Mon 15-Dec-14 19:17:37

Booboo - Its what she asks to do. She'd be absolutely bored out of her box just going for walks. I do that with my 3 year old. Sh

She gets a choice of what to do though the only bits that are compulsory are waring up and cooling down obviously. If she doesnt want to practise anything she doesn't have to. 9/10 she asks to practise something or learn something new (Although she gets a bit ahead of herself - She wanted to learn to do a half pass cause she saw it on a dressage video haha i told her she'll have to wait a while for that!)
We hack out too theres a massive park just up the road.

Rinky - I put her on the lunge if she needs leading. We have some one handed signs we devised specially for it. She wont let the other girl at the yard lead her DD doesn't like her very much (Theres only one other person at the yard).

Booboostoo Mon 15-Dec-14 19:39:57

Fair enough, all DCs are different.

I second the RDA for advice and an experienced instructor.

bronya Sun 21-Dec-14 12:55:04

Sounds ok if she enjoys it and is progressing. I would ride with her sometimes if you can, as if your horse is well behaved you will be able to sign, demo, sign again while right next to her.

Once you get to the limit of your knowledge, get an instructor to come and watch your lesson from outside the school, then provide you with information as to what to teach your daughter next. I'd imagine that will be quite some time in the future though given that she's only 5 years old now!

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 31-Dec-14 15:47:03

Off the lunge, could you get her playing gymkhana style games? Weaving or bending will improve her steering, picking things up will improve her balance, riding one handed will encourage her to use her legs to steer as well as her hands. American barrels style "races" are also great for steering and concentration and can be done at a variety of speeds- to start with, she could trot the straight lines and walk the turns, for example, so lots of transitions too! You could also set up le trec style obstacle courses for her to navigate. These activities will teach her lots, and hopefully she will get a sense of achievement from completing them, and beating her own time etc.

If she wants to do dressage, the pony club have a great range of tests, suitable for children of all levels, that you can find on their website. Alternatively, you might find some para-dressage tests suitable for her. I would probably stick to walk and trot based tests for now, but learning these would give her something to aim for.

Have you started doing pole work yet? Going around a course of poles on the ground can also help improve steering and looking where you are going!

Also, do get her to do things like round the world, half scissors and so on, as it will be good for her balance- get someone to demo, if need be!

At 5, she is not going to be perfectly co-ordinated or well balanced, so she may not be able to follow all your instructions, and you may need to help her out a bit. If she is using her hands to balance in trot, I suggest putting a breast plate on the pony, and making her loop her little fingers under the straps. This will help her keep her hands down and find her own point of balance. A breast plate is a great grab strap for her too, especially if she wants to move on to jumping! It's more secure than a neckstrap or trying to grab the ponies reins, and grabbing the saddle is likely to make her less balanced as it will put her hands in the wrong place.

I am a bit worried about the implants coming out. I know someone who rides and has cochlear implants and she has a specially adapted hat. I am worried that if the implants are coming out, the hat she has may be too big/not fit correctly. I know an adapted hat may be a big expense, especially as she is still growing, but please do think about this, or getting the fit of her hat checked, as hats are so important and do need to fit properly to avoid injury.

I would also be wary of doing too much fast work off the lunge, if she isn't that well balanced. I would only let her canter off the lunge once she is utterly secure in trot, as coming back to trot is when most young riders fall off! I would also have her canter away from the gate and stand where you want the canter to end, as she may lack the strength to slow the pony down herself.

I hope this helps a bit. I don't know much about deafness, so this is based just on young children learning to ride. She does sound a lot more experienced than the average 5yo, but co-ordination and strength will probably be the same for all children in this age group.

Pumpkinette Mon 12-Jan-15 12:33:20

Hi, I know I'm a bit late on commenting on this. Is there anyway you can video the lesson and then watch it back later with your DD? I'm just thinking it would give you a better chance to explain things to her so she can focus on whatever you discuss for the next lesson.

TooMuchCantBreathe Mon 12-Jan-15 21:17:34

Hi, I'm late too, sorry!

Is there any way you can borrow a body worn bone conductor? I don't know enough to know if they would work for someone with a cochlear implant but they would fit under a riding helmet and not fall off? They are very tight and only intended to be worn for short times (up to around 2 hrs) but may give you some freedom to get dd doing many of the other things listed above?

Oh and don't forget YouTube, watching basic videos together and discussing the how's and whys could be good? I've done it a lot with my dc smile

Debs75 Mon 12-Jan-15 21:29:05

Videoing her riding is a great idea.

I initially thought that the lessons were quite high on content, My DD was nowhere near that until she was 11-12 but she only had lessons whereas you have a horse for her to ride whenever she wants. If she is enjoying them though keep on

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