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How would you help a 3-year old learn to ride?

21 replies

RacingSnake · 11/05/2010 21:59

I have a very horsey friend who has (among others) two little white Shetland ponies. Her dd is 3, has ridden since before she could walk and rides beautifully - upright and confident. Friend is very keen for my dd to do things with hers and has just moved to within about 45 mins drive from us. We meet up about once a week. My dd loves animals and has lots of pets and I would like her to ride and get into horses, for reasons stated in other posts on this thread - self confidence, independence, etc. However, having no experience, when she sits on the pony, she hunches up and clings onto the mane (obviously - I'm not criticising her). What tips has anyone got?

OP posts:
Pixel · 11/05/2010 23:22

Children seem to sit naturally in a good position if they are confident so that is the key. I would play some little games to help take your dd's mind off being nervous and improve her balance at the same time. As you lead her round get her to do simple things like touch her head with one hand or touch the back of the saddle, or reach up in the air as high as she can. As she gets braver you can gradually make it more difficult like putting both hands on her head, or holding her arms out to the side or maybe even touching her toes. If all that is a bit much for her to start with then singing nursery rhymes to the pony might help her relax.
My ds has a saddle like this with a handle for the shetland he rides, so he can sit more upright than if he were to hold the mane. Maybe that would help? You can usually get them very cheaply on ebay.

Anyway, I hope your dd enjoys herself, it sounds like she could have a lot of fun with her little friend.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 11/05/2010 23:32

Miles in the saddle. It will all come with time. She is nervous, its all new, and she is trying to keep her balance and feel secure. Dont push her to do anything, just lead her about a lot, get her a neck strap or a handle for the front of the saddle. A pelham rounding between the front D rings or a bit of baling string will do. Give her time. Presumably your dd is only around 3 too, so keep calm and dont push her, let it all be fun, and keep rides/lessons short so she doesnt get bored.
I learned the hard way, I always want everything NOW, and dd(11) has always been really annoyed when I pushed her. Its bloody hard, but I have to let her take her time, otherwise her and the pony just go to pieces!

Pixel · 11/05/2010 23:43

Oh I agree Saggy, I didn't mean be pushy like a proper lesson, just some fun things to make her giggle and get her enjoying herself.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 11/05/2010 23:48

x posted with you pixel! hadnt read yours when I wrote mine. Good ideas for games though, around the world is a good one too. (Adult keep hold of the pony though!)

Pixel · 12/05/2010 00:03

I must confess I might have been a bit too keen when dd was small and could possibly have put her off . However in my defence she is the most unsporty/indoorsy child I've ever known so it was probably inevitable. I think the shetland kicking me and running off with dd whilst bucking was actually the final straw! Dd sat those bucks beautifully and didn't fall off, I was so proud.

Funnily enough that same shetland seems to know ds is disabled and has never in 5 years put a single foot wrong with him (well except for that time she got down and rolled in the mud Lol).

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 12/05/2010 00:28

I definitely was too pushy! but then if I wasn't my dd would never do anything! She is quite an anxious child, and only tends to realise she can do something once I have got her to do it initially! Good job we love each other!

CMOTdibbler · 12/05/2010 09:57

DS's lessons consist of lots of stretching up, playing aeroplanes, bending over, marching with legs, twisting round - that sort of thing. He thinks round the world is fabulous.

They do 'racing' over trotting poles too, which causes much giggling

RacingSnake · 12/05/2010 11:09

Thanks - off for another ride on Thursday I think you're right - just lots of time and not too pushy. Will try some little games etc. I am She is very keen and I have just got a hat for her on ebay. Didn't know that a saddle with a handle on was 'legitimate' - I thought they had to do it all with the legs from day 1.

OP posts:
CMOTdibbler · 12/05/2010 11:25

Racing - would you like some jods ? DS has outgrown some, and she would be v welcome to them

RacingSnake · 12/05/2010 16:27

Yes please!!! I keep looking on ebay and only finding age 8-9 or some vast size. There were a pair of size 3-4 last week but I missed them due to blinking at the wrong moment. She is very small - still usually wears 2-3. Do we have to do some CATing? I did get Tea's email in some way I can't remember.

OP posts:
CMOTdibbler · 12/05/2010 16:48

I'll CAT you - I have some size 26 boots too

helyg · 12/05/2010 18:14

DD was 4 in February, and immediately started riding as that was the age that the local stables takes them from (she had been begging for months). For now she just goes for walks on the lead rein as she is very small for her age, but she is learning to sit properly, turns the horse at the end of the lane etc. She is also starting to learn to use her feet (her legs are still a little bit short yet though). Once she has grown a bit though she will start proper lessons.

I think a lot is confidence, despite desperately wanting to ride DD cried the first time as it was "too wobbly", but she loves it now and asks every Saturday if we are going!

RacingSnake · 12/05/2010 22:28

Yes, I'll need to get through the crying, although that hasn't happened yet.

CMOT, just seen your CAT - boots, too!

OP posts:
nelliesmum · 12/05/2010 22:42

You're all nuts..people fall off horses and DIE, why would you put a 3 year-old on one?

Pixel · 12/05/2010 23:07

Well my son loves riding the shetland. He's only a couple of feet off the ground, he's on the lead rein and wearing a helmet. I think he's quite safe actually compared to when he is on enormous climbing frames in the park and other scary stuff I can hardly bear to watch.

CMOTdibbler · 13/05/2010 08:27

My DS is wearing a good helmet and a body protector and closely supervised at all times. I think he's safer than in an adventure playground, or indeed playing rugby.
You make a risk assessment, and do what you are happy with

helyg · 13/05/2010 12:59

People cross the road and get hit by cars, it doesn't mean that you only ever walk on one side of the road.

Much the same as you teach children how to cross the road safely, or ride a bike safely, you teach them how to ride a horse safely.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss · 14/05/2010 02:34

Would you put your child in a car? Or an aeroplane? Or a bicycle?A child died after falling over in heelies! Would you take them on holiday somewhere there are venemous snakes/insects? Let them climb a tree? Life isn't a dress rehearsal! Shit happens. Horse riding is no more dangerous than being in a car if you follow proper safety rules.

Butkin · 14/05/2010 08:07

DD got her first pony for her 2nd birthday after sitting on ours from 18months. For her old Sec A she got a cub saddle like Pixel suggests. She wore those pink Chipmunk suede jodphur boots and wore her cycling helmet until she was nearly 3 and her head was big enough for a proper crash hat with cover.

I definitely think having confidence helps posture and the cubs with their handles sort this out.

Some kids can be like "sacks of spuds" though - quite often boys for some reason. Not sure how you get round this unfortunately.

Alicetheinvisible · 14/05/2010 10:43

Really helpful post from nelliesmum

DD is 2.6 and likes to ride up and down the yard bareback on my 15hh mare (DH holds on quite tight!) It is like anything, they just need to get used to the motion and adjust their balance which can take a while.

If the child is a bit tense, the best thing is to take them for a walk rather than a 'lesson' you can ask them what they did that day, about their pets, favourite telly program etc, point things out to them so they are looking around (helps them relax more) or sing songs.

DD will probably get a pony within the next year, but at the moment she is more than happy just having a plod on mine.

SpiderObsession · 14/05/2010 13:41

Love this thread!

My Ds2 (22 mths) sat on my horse for the first time this weekend. He sat up straight and when I gave him the reins he instinctively held them correctly. I had tears in my eyes.

Ds1 (4yrs) is not so confident. He would only sit in front of me (after DS2 had been on - competitive streak eh?) and although he enjoyed walking round he was ready to get off.

So perhaps one WelshCob pony on the horizon. I've not given up yet!

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