Hey guys, it's Savannah I need some help. Here it is my niece she is affraid that she is going to fall off. So I need help with this. She also has this problem with leaning forward.
So here is my question. How can I get her to feel more confident on the horse?
Hi Savannah, How old is your niece? what horse are you teaching her on, is it hers?
Her name is Haylee and she is 8 years old and she will be 9 years old in march also on my horse.
ok, so the first thing you need to do is to get her to control her breathing. I know that sounds quite simple but it's one of the most important physical skills for overcoming the emotion of fear. your breathing is one of the very first things to change in the physical chain reactions that occur in your body when you become frightened.
Get her to breathe with big breaths from all the way from the bottom of her lungs, this will also help her to sit up more. It's very hard to take really big breaths and not sit up strait . That will help her relax and you can quietly lead her around till she becomes comfortable with the movement of the horse.
I would put her on a suitably quiet horse that's good on the lunge-line with side reins and do some exercises with her to help her concentrate on relaxation. The Pony Club manual has a lot of great exercises. You can start at the walk or halt even and get her to touch the ears/tail. Touch her toes (alternately while keeping her legs in the correct position. Do stretching and windmills with her arms. Crossing her arms behind her back will help her get a feel for opening up her chest and not collapsing forward. You can work your way up to doing all this at the trot and canter eventually with/without reins and/or stirrups. All these exercises help to develope an independent seat which will help her feel more in control of herself and her horse.
My horse is very quiet. Also very great on the lunge line. What are slid reins?
Have her sing whatever songs she knows and likes best. This will help her with her breathing and rhythm, and just to relax and have fun. Having a trustworthy horse and a safe place to ride is a big one for learners. Looking between the horse's ears (as opposed to looking down at the ground where she thinks she's going to fall). Just proceeding nice and relaxed and giving her something to focus on besides her fears, such as walking to a far cone and turning round it, maybe have someone walk next to her for a bit, positive encouragement.
Firstly you need to have some tools to help you. Tools can come in different forms that can be alive or not. Alive means that the proper horse for the job at hand. As calm and as quite as you can find. They do exist. Then you need to make sure she is in a confined area or being lounged by someone who knows how to lounge correctly. And the dead broke needs to not only be broke, but needs to have a safe work ethic. There can be a little disconnect there. Horse might be dead broke at the wash station, but not under tack. And the problem leaning forward is because the child is afraid of being vulnerable, i.e. tipping forward and possibly going off, which is normal. The lower leg position needs to become strong and secure before she can lean forward, which means that a horse she can "drive", for a while is best. After all this she might always be of the timid sort, as was my sister. People are like horses and some are bold and some are not. You will only find this out for sure once you make sure that the "horse", is not the problem. Good Luck and make sure she is wearing a helmet!
Hi Savannah, There is some good advice here to help Haylee improve. However, dont put her on a horse on the lunge with sidereins. That's really bad advice ( sorry Hank, but it had to be said. ) You'll need to have a bit more experience before you should try that, stick with the simple breathing exercises , that will be enough to help with her confidence. And she will feel happier if you sit her in a saddle too
I agree completely about the side rein comment, sorry Hank. Side reins are an artificial aid, very very dangerous if not used correctly for everyone involved. It can cause rearing and possibly going over backwards if not used correctly. There is an art to using them and they are to be used by someone who understands dressage at a fairly high level. For instance, walking, in them is not suggested until the horse is very very strong. Walking, on the bit, is very hard for the horse because of the lack of momentum to help carry the horse forward. And they should not even be considered being used until the horse is going round on the lounge, walk trot and canter like an obedient forward clock. And even then the use of them needs to be depended on the particular day of effort. Some days I think I might want to use them, have them attached to the saddle, and never ever touch them......all this is said with the utmost of respect for all comments being put out there.
Just have to ask- who wants the niece to ride.
Lots of people LOVE horses but are much happier on the sidelines.
When I teach children I like to encourage their confidence by introducing exercises that improve balance, first on a lead line and then on the lunge. I've shown the exercises I like to use in my video below.