Joining NR for tips and advice on helping my daughter’s cheeky horse

TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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Thank you for welcoming me to this forum. My 9 year old daughter is a beginner but confident rider, her horse however tries to put it over her constantly. He doesn’t put it over adults or when adults are in close distance. I am hoping this forum will Provide some techniques or changes we need to make to help with the issues we are having. We live in Queensland, Australia.
 
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joosie

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Hi, welcome to the forum.
What do you mean by "put it over"?
What does he do?
Some beginners do have natural confidence but it doesn't stop them from being a beginner ;)
 

carthorse

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Hi and welcome!

Can you give us a bit more detail on the horse, your daughter and what is happening? What you've said isn't enough to give any advice on other than to say make sure an adult is always around.
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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As Joosie says. Is this on the ground and being led? From what you say it could be ridden too, if he complies when an adult is looking on. Ponies ridden by children get used to having their own way and can be difficult,

My grand daughter was always quite a submissive but delightful child. I paid for her to have ground work lessons. In a safe place and with adult supervision to teach her how to lead her pony in walk. Keeping the pony out of her space and able to direct him to walk, halt and back up.

Once a child is able to do that, (it may take several sessions) one can make a maze of poles laid out on the ground and lead a pony through the maze, going round right angle bends without a foot touching the poles.

But be sure that when learning to lead and to handle from the ground your child is always wearing a hard hat (as for riding) and gloves. And that an adult is present.

My instructor is convinced that if a horse behaves well with a handler on the ground, it will also behave when ridden. I dont know whether this is generally true. But it is safer to start from the ground and for me personally ground work is the foundation and it is essential.

It might be a good idea for you as an adult to do some of this ground work with the pony yourself before teaching your child.

If you yourself are not familiar with horses and groundwork, please do look on line to watch some videos. And if you dont feel able to teach your child yourself, do as I did and find a ground work teacher for your child. In UK there is the trainer Kelly Marks of Intelligent Horsemaship (working with Monty Roberts methods) from whom I learned a lot and whose teachers will come to one's home. But there are several similar and respected trainers in Australia. The RI who taught my grand daughter so well was trained in Australia by an instructor who followed a version of Parelli horsemanship.
 

TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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I’m happy to go into more detail. I thought this was purely an introduction page. Thanks for replying! So, firstly, yes there is constantly an adult around and although Abigail is confident in herself she is very much a beginner rider. Her horse is a 4 1/2 yr old paint horse, about 14.2hh. We are leasing this horse and attend lessons, pony club and starting western dressage as this is what the owners of the horse are involved in with their other horses.
The main issues are that when trotting in a dressage arena he will ‘duck out’ or jump over the fence (about 30-40cms). He will always turn to the right. Abigail is becoming very good at pre emting this but it mostly ends up in huge protest, which she loses most of the time due to his strength. His most recent ducking out episode, he cantered 150 m to his stable. Other times when trying to go over small jumps(15-20cm) he ducks away and turns his head and body like a side ways trot. When he ducks out he puts his head down to the ground and when he is cantering his head is also down. She is not strong enough to bring it back up obviously. With an adult rider, the horse will try it a few times and snap out of it. We have just purchased some prince of Wales spurs and she has a small riding crop. The crop was working initially (just a tap on the neck) but feel it might have lost it’s value,hence being told to get the Spurs instead. She doesn’t use them together though. Any advice welcome. Happy to clarify or give more info!
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Hi and welcome.

I would say that your daughter might be a little over horsed. A 14hh horse for a 9 year old might be too much.

The horse is only 41/2 so very young and green. He could be ducking out as hes not sure being green, he might also be very unbalanced so asking him to do jumps might be too much for the horse.

I would start with trotting, cantering and walking over ground poles. Polework helps to strengthen the horse.
If hes ducking out on low poles he could also be telling you hes in some kind of pain and jumping even low causes discomfort.

When you say he cantered to his stable, presumably you are not in an arena or enclosed area. I would address this by perhaps using so white tape and poly post and wooden post to make up a riding area.
 
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TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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Hi and welcome.

I would say that your daughter might be a little over horsed. A 14hh horse for a 9 year old might be too much.

The horse is only 41/2 so very young and green. He could be ducking out as hes not sure being green, he might also be very unbalanced so asking him to do jumps might be too much for the horse.

I would start with trotting, cantering and walking over ground poles. Polework helps to strengthen the horse.
If hes ducking out on low poles he could also be telling you hes in some kind of pain and jumping even low causes discomfort.

When you say he cantered to his stable, presumably you are not in an arena or enclosed area. I would address this by perhaps using so white tape and poly post and wooden post to make up a riding area.
Thanks, I appreciate your reply. We have moved from doing lessons in an open paddock to a large enclosed yard. He gets lunged before each riding session in a round yard.
For the last 9 months of riding him, he’s never cantered and now suddenly when he ducks out he does. Even in the enclosed yard he’ll go towards the gate or corner. When my daughter can turn him he will still throw his right side out and awkwardly move about..
I agree he is young and probably not the most ideal horse for her. But as I live in a small community, there weren’t any other ponies available. Leasing this horse and having it stay on their property is really convienent. It came down to either not riding or at least riding something. He hasn’t shown any nastiness really but this ducking g out business and now the cantering has me stumped!! The owners are aware of the issues and have just purchased a set of balance support reins which are meant to help with dropping his head in the air to give my daughter a bit more control.
 

TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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Hi, welcome to the forum.
What do you mean by "put it over"?
What does he do?
Some beginners do have natural confidence but it doesn't stop them from being a beginner ;)
Thanks for your reply.
I absolutely agree she is a beginner. She is learning the skills. Currently walk and trotting well but has cantered not by choice 4-5 times now. Hasn’t fallen off and has a good seat but it’s not something she is wanting to learn as she is scared of the speed.
The horse puts it over her by ducking out in certain areas of the dressage arena. Usually near the gate or at least the end nearest to his stables. It is getting worse now and instead of just ducking out and Abigail being able to control him after he’s out, the horse is taking off and cantering.
We have moved to a large enclosed yard but he was trying to do it again heading for the gate or corner. When an adult rides him, he may try it once then be beaten. But my daughter doesn’t have the adult strength to pull the left rein in order to stop him ducking to the right. He usually only ducks out to the right as well.
 

carthorse

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It does sound to me as though you've got too much pony for her, both in terms of size and experience. Ideally I'd say end the lease and find her something more suitable, but it sounds like you really don't want to do that.

Can you get some private lessons for her? Your comment about not having the strength to pull the left rein strongly enough to stop him ducking to the right actually shows that she probably shouldn't be riding a young green horse because pulling left will in reality enable him to duck right - what she should be doing is applying right leg on the girth and some right rein to straighten him and stop him loading the right shoulder so he can fall out through it. While I wouldn't say strength has no impact it's usually far less important than people think, skill is more important but as a novice she doesn't yet have enough of that..

Would the owners not be prepared to put some work in on him? It would be in their interests to do so since he is still theirs and if they decided to sell him in the future then it would have an affect on his price.

I do worry that Abigail is going to get disheartened riding this pony, and possibly lose her confidence too. It's also hard to progress when both parties are beginners. I don't know what the situation is where you are, but I'd have think about whether you'd be better off spending money on her have lessons at a decent riding school and then going back to leasing when she knows a bit more and hopefully something more suitable is available.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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I would suggest getting him checked by a vet and physio. Horses in pain will try to avoid discomfort. Which may start as ducking out and then in this instance to tanking off. Others may try bucking.

It was said to me a few years ago. Theres got to be something wrong. Your horse always ducks out to one side at a jump. It was embarrassing going to a lesson and him refusing. Well when i took him to funrides and he ducked out at silly logs having been galloping towards the next jump, me stuggling to hold him, you expect to sail over the jump, not swerve last minute, you start to wonder. Well i now know years later that he has an big issue with his back. Possible kissing spine, although not confirmed on xrays.

I have a friend whose daughter is having issues with bucking. Theyve had the saddle checked and adjusted a couple of times and i think even changed saddles. Horse tries it with an experienced instructor but doesnt get away with bucking as they know how to correct it. But the daughter isnt strong enough and doesnt have the full understanding to ride the horse through it. They think once it started the horse tried to carry on depositing rider after all checks were done, as it became habits. They are just turning a corner now and its getting less.

You must rule out any pain or discomfort issues the horse may have.
 
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TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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I would suggest getting him checked by a vet and physio. Horses in pain will try to avoid discomfort. Which may start as ducking out and then in this instance to tanking off. Others may try bucking.

It was said to me a few years ago. Theres got to be something wrong. Your horse always ducks out to one side at a jump. It was embarrassing going to a lesson and him refusing. Well when i took him to funrides and he ducked out at silly logs having been galloping towards the next jump, me stuggling to hold him, you expect to sail over the jump, not swerve last minute, you start to wonder. Well i now know years later that he has an big issue with his back. Possible kissing spine, although not confirmed on xrays.

I have a friend whose daughter is having issues with bucking. Theyve had the saddle checked and adjusted a couple of times and i think even changed saddles. Horse tries it with an experienced instructor but doesnt get away with bucking as they know how to correct it. But the daughter isnt strong enough and doesnt have the full understanding to ride the horse through it. They think once it started the horse tried to carry on depositing rider after all checks were done, as it became habits. They are just turning a corner now and its getting less.

You must rule out any pain or discomfort issues the horse may have.
Thanks. I agree, he does only duck out on the right side. I took him for a private lesson with a very experienced equestrian rider and they did say his teeth needed doing quite badly. The owner was there with us at the lesson but they dismissed it as being the cause of the ducking out problem. I’m sure it’s not the only problem but We live in the outback so we have to wait for services to do their rounds. So 6months later we are still waiting to have them done. Ultimately the owners feel it is my daughter who needs to get stronger and beat him. Which she could to an extent but now he is cantering off with his head down there is no way she can work with that, it is obviously rocking her confidence. A new quirk/misbehaviours seems to be displayed every few weeks. Just when we seem to get on top of one.
 

joosie

lifelong sufferer of restless brain syndrome
Oct 28, 2004
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Sorry but "get stronger and beat him" is absolutely not what needs to happen, and it's a bit of a concern that you think that's what you should be aiming for here. It isn't about "beating" or "winning". The horse is a youngster. He's LEARNING. Young horses need a rider with the skills to teach them what to do and how to do it correctly.
From what you've said I absolutely do not believe that this horse is right for your daughter. But since you've made it clear you plan to continue, my advice would be to make sure the horse is being educated on a regular basis (like, several times a week) by an experienced rider who has the skill and confidence to produce a youngster correctly, and that your daughter only rides under the supervision of a competent riding instructor so that she can work towards reinforcing what the other rider is teaching him.
I don't know if you've heard this, but horsey people have this phrase, "green on green = black and blue". Let the current situation continue and your daughter could, at best, lose her confidence, and at worst, get hurt.
Not only that, but the horse is going to learn bad habits and go forward with massive gaps in his education.
 
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TereseRed

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Sorry but "get stronger and beat him" is absolutely not what needs to happen, and it's a bit of a concern that you think that's what you should be aiming for here. It isn't about "beating" or "winning". The horse is a youngster. He's LEARNING. Young horses need a rider with the skills to teach them what to do and how to do it correctly.
From what you've said I absolutely do not believe that this horse is right for your daughter. But since you've made it clear you plan to continue, my advice would be to make sure the horse is being educated on a regular basis (like, several times a week) by an experienced rider who has the skill and confidence to produce a youngster correctly, and that your daughter only rides under the supervision of a competent riding instructor so that she can work towards reinforcing what the other rider is teaching him.
I don't know if you've heard this, but horsey people have this phrase, "green on green = black and blue". Let the current situation continue and your daughter could, at best, lose her confidence, and at worst, get hurt.
Not only that, but the horse is going to learn bad habits and go forward with massive gaps in his education.
Thankyou for your comment. You have said everything I am thinking. I completely agree the horse is too green and she is still a beginner rider. That’s where I’m torn. The people I lease the horse off also give Abigail the lessons. I have mentioned that I feel an adult also needs to be riding the horse and that perhaps my daughter needs to go back to instilling ground manners with him. They are not really seeing it as an issue and just keep saying he doesn’t try these misbehaviours with an adult so there’s no point anyone else riding him as it’s ultimately Abigail that needs to fix the problems (winning/beating him- their terminology not mine). I spoke to them also about my daughter teaching the horse bad manners and he is too smart and is just playing her so he’s not learning the bad habits.
I don’t want to give up riding him as we don’t have another horse at the moment to ride anything else. It’s really not an ideal situation but it the only opportunity at the moment and we are very grateful to be given the opportunity to lease the horse and obtain lessons.
 

carthorse

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Are there no schools you could travel to once a week for lessons? I really do think Abigail is going to end up hurt, particularly given that the behaviour is escalating. The pony is still maturing and will be getting stronger physically and mentally at a much faster rate than Abigail is, he's reaching an age when many will test the boundaries and already there are very few. I can understand why you're reluctant to give him up, but if she was my daughter I'd be even more reluctant to let her keep putting herself at risk.
 

chunky monkey

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Personally id keep your ear to the ground for something more suitable an cut ties as soon as you can.

Whilst i appreciate you live in the outback, so services might be difficult to come by. If the horse needs his teeth doing and its already been 6 months since they were told about it. Alarm bells are ringing here. Ok theyve been told by an instructor not someone qualified in that field, but its not to be ignored. You get the teeth done by a vet over here. There are specialist equine dentists here too. My youngster had a delayed canine coming through. When it did come through it was all uneven and had very sharp edges. You could see the sores in the mouth where there was rubbing and irritation. There could well be sharp edges in the back of the horses mouth too. Some youngster may even need teeth checking every six months.

Equally at the same time trot him up and get the back checked at the same time by the vet.

Im sorry this thread seems very negative towards you. Im sure you were hoping for some positive ideas to help. We dont mean to be harsh but i think most of us have probably seen it go wrong or a mis match on a few occasions.
 
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Skib

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It is your choice. But safety of a child would for me be the top priority.

If this is the only horse and she is taught only by its owners then it would be better not to ride at all. She should not be cantering a horse over which she has no control. Carthorse wrote the same while I was writing this.
Your post suggests that your child is being taught by people who are teaching her on a horse which is probably in pain. A skilled riding teacher would be training her at this stage with lessons only in walk.
Clearly you are worried and that is why you posted on this forum. You are right to be worried. Riding is a risky hobby and nothing that is happening is the fault of your child. We dont want her to be hurt.
 

TereseRed

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Aug 5, 2020
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Thankyou for your comment. You have said everything I am thinking. I completely agree the horse is too green and she is still a beginner rider. That’s where I’m torn. The people I lease the horse off also give Abigail the lessons. I have mentioned that I feel an adult also needs to be riding the horse and that perhaps my daughter needs to go back to instilling ground manners with him. They are not really seeing it as an issue and just keep saying he doesn’t try these misbehaviours with an adult so there’s no point anyone else riding him as it’s ultimately Abigail that needs to fix the problems (winning/beating him- their terminology not mine). I spoke to them also about my daughter teaching the horse bad manners and he is too smart and is just playing her so he’s not learning the bad habits.
I don’t want to give up riding him as we don’t have another horse at the moment to ride anything else. It’s really not an ideal situation but it the only opportunity at the moment and we are very grateful to be given the opportunity to lease the horse and obtain lessons.
Are there no schools you could travel to once a week for lessons? I really do think Abigail is going to end up hurt, particularly given that the behaviour is escalating. The pony is still maturing and will be getting stronger physically and mentally at a much faster rate than Abigail is, he's reaching an age when many will test the boundaries and already there are very few. I can understand why you're reluctant to give him up, but if she was my daughter I'd be even more reluctant to let her keep putting herself at risk.
Thanks for your reply. The closest person to do a lesson is about 2 hours away. She is really busy so the next one is 4 hours away. With other family members,sport,other commitments it is just not feasible to travel that far frequently. I completely understand what you are saying, and I guess I already know I have to give him up for the sake of Abigail. I did underestimate the age of the horse as the owners do not see that as the issue at all, they seemed to get along very well for the first 6months of riding. They think he is a suitable horse for her and just want to encourage her to fight for the power (their words). I’d hate for him to turn dreadfully nasty (which to be honest, he has the potential to)after witnessing these behavioural changes in the past month. I would send him to a horse trainer for a few weeks if that helped but have my doubts due to him not displaying as much disobedience with adults.
 

TereseRed

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It is your choice. But safety of a child would for me be the top priority.

If this is the only horse and she is taught only by its owners then it would be better not to ride at all. She should not be cantering a horse over which she has no control. Carthorse wrote the same while I was writing this.
Your post suggests that your child is being taught by people who are teaching her on a horse which is probably in pain. A skilled riding teacher would be training her at this stage with lessons only in walk.
Clearly you are worried and that is why you posted on this forum. You are right to be worried. Riding is a risky hobby and nothing that is happening is the fault of your child. We dont want her to be hurt.
Thankyou. You have really touched home. I absolutely do not want my child to be hurt and since she is so determined to do well, I do not want a bad experience to break her confidence. She is constantly under the assumption it is all her fault for not being strong enough to pull the horse into line and is trying so damn hard. I am reassuring her that the horse is not the right ‘fit’ right now as he is young too which is comforting to her. But I’m sure it has taken it’s toll. Thanks for your advice, I will be trying hard to find a more suitable beginners horse so she can keep learning and developing.
 
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carthorse

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Thankyou. You have really touched home. I absolutely do not want my child to be hurt and since she is so determined to do well, I do not want a bad experience to break her confidence. She is constantly under the assumption it is all her fault for not being strong enough to pull the horse into line and is trying so damn hard. I am reassuring her that the horse is not the right ‘fit’ right now as he is young too which is comforting to her. But I’m sure it has taken it’s toll. Thanks for your advice, I will be trying hard to find a more suitable beginners horse so she can keep learning and developing.

Maybe it would help to show her some of the replies on here so that she realises the problem is she's trying to ride the wrong horse?
 
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