“Hi Stacy! I have a overo paint with a really white face and last summer he got burnt pretty bad. Do you know if sunblock is ok to put on a horse? I put a fly mask but that only covers half his face. What would you recommend?”-Amy S.
Tag Archives: kid
“Hi Stacy, I am in Australia and I have watched your videos and read some of your posts. I have also heard a lot about you from friends. I was wondering if you have any advice for a horse lover who is terrified of horses. When I was 12 I had an accident and fractured my skull and was in a coma. I was not permitted to get back on for a year. My mum was riding with me and broke her leg saving me. She was in hospital longer than me. We never rode for a long time, which is probably part of the problem. Mum rides sometimes now and is more confident than me. I have had some lessons but circumstances create big gaps between lessons. This means I start over all the time. I can’t remember the accident. I can now be near them it shake and feel sick when I lead them or ride them. How can I make this process easier?”-Kate A.
Then I read your question again and saw that even leading them causes you stress. I was reminded of how my boys, in a matter of days, dramatically increased in confidence after we got our mini’s. The interesting part was that the horses they had always handled were trained better than the minis…but the minis were small, less intimidating and made us laugh.
There are many ways that you could work through this. The biggest red-flag that I see in your question is that you have had circumstances that create big gaps between lessons. It isn’t ‘wrong’ but as you have already identified the lack of consistency will cause you to repeat more than if you were able to be consistent.
I wrote a blog titled, “After an accident I have lost my confidence, what do you suggest?” that discusses a similar topic from a slightly different angle; you are interested in getting confidence around any horse and she was interested in confidence around her specific horse. It is still worth reading as the answer is still what I would recommend to you.
Listen to this advice that was posted as a comment. She sums it up beautifully and offers great advice:
“Your confidence can be and – in my opinion – should be regained! It would be a tragedy if you allowed an adverse incident like this to set a pattern for you of avoiding anything that has scared or hurt you. I know what you’re going through, ’cause after the accident (my bicycle vs. pickup truck – bike loses, bigtime!) There’s nothing like lying in bed with the “tape” of the accident playing over and over in your head to scare the willies out of you….) I did three months in hospital and over a year in a rehab center! I was lucky; I had been a horse person since I was little and KNEW that when you fall off you get right back on before you get scared and lose something you love. Neither you nor I had that option, but I was riding a bike (nervously!) as soon as they put a knee joint in my cast; my horse (with stirrup removed on the cast side) as soon as I could swing my leg over his back.
If you are in an auto accident will you never ride in a car again? If you fall on your kitchen floor will you never enter that kitchen again? Or even never walk on a linoleum floor again?
Stacy is exactly right in saying that more groundwork and more exposure to strange happenings will lessen the chance of this occurring again with your horse – in whom you have a lot invested and I don’t mean money!) You might consider, also, a few sessions with a counselor to help you work on your fear, and a few lessons at the local riding academy on the horses they put the LITTLE kids on. You knew this kind of thing could happen before you started riding in the first place; horses are big, dumb prey animals with a very rapid flight response. You loved them anyway. You still do. Let your love – and your determination to be emotionally healthy! – rule your life.
With sympathy – and tough love, Annie G.”
“Dear Stacy, I have a question and it will be a little long to ask. I know your awfully busy and there’s little chance you can find time to answer it, but since there is a girl and her pony at stake, I thought I’d go ahead and ask, anyway.
Last year in February we decide to buy our 5 yr old daughter a pony (she’s been taken lessons since she’s 3 and is quite proficient for her age, not extraordinary, but pretty skilled). We found a 10 yr old mare in a riding school going bankrupt. She was rail thin and poorly maintained, but she seemed docile enough. We bought her (saving her, really), put 120 lbs on her, trimmed her feet, clipped her, etc. I started some groundwork with her as she had no basic manners and zero notion of personal space. Our daughter started riding her twice a week, and things went reasonably well for a while. Later I started working again and we could only get to the stables once a week. In the meanwhile the mare had put on a lot of weight, had become the boss in the herd she lived with, and had really gotten an attitude. Nice and behaved in hand, but she started trying to buck our girl off on a regular basis, and our kid being a good rider, the mare really had to amp it up to get rid of her. This evolved to the point that every time our daughter would mount, within a few minutes the mare would start showing signs of annoyance, and then bolt, crowhop or plain buck violently until our kid was off. It’s been a month that our daughter has been totally demoralized and hasn’t even visited her mare, let alone wanted to ride any horse, whatsoever.
My understanding is that our mare had been previously underfed and overworked, and even too tired or weak to protest about the heavy schooling she had to endure, but had never been properly trained, and that with renewed strength and self confidence, she is now fighting work with all her might.
What is your interpretation ? I don’t think the situation is fixable and have plans to put her up for sale in the spring, with a heavy heart, as she is a beautiful and kind animal, but those bouts of violent behavior I cannot risk, as a mother.
Sorry for the lengthy message, but this is my bottle to the sea, hoping it’ll reach your shore. Thanks for all that you teach us, I’m enjoying the Jac series beyond words.”-Claire D.
I would say that your assessment is probably pretty reasonable. While we will never know exactly what lead to this end, we can still make a plan on how to go forward.
My first recommendation is to check that there are no physical causes for this behavior. This can involve many steps depending on how in depth you want to go. A vet is the obvious choice but also include experienced horse people, chiropractors, dentists, etc who can all be informative. If you check out physical causes and find nothing then we can move to training and conditioning.
In the best circumstances I train with prevention. To me this means that I prevent as much as I can from going wrong and I prevent as much as I can from letting bad habits grow. While challenges will still arise they are different than issues that have been allowed to ‘brew’ for a long time.
If I had to modify one thing that you said it would be that she is ‘fighting work with all of her might.’ By the sound of it she does a fair amount of work when she is trying to get out of her situation. For some reason she has it in her mind that this is what she needs to do. Maybe somewhere in her past she had this habit, or a minor form of it, and the lack of weight and strength held it in check. Maybe she had a lack of training and on a particularly bad day in the past she dumped her little rider and found some relief. We can come up with many possible situations that would set this up but in the end we alway end up back at where you are today with two questions: What is best for your daughter? What is best for this pony? Sometimes it is easier for me to look at it as two separate issues and then look at the whole again later.
It sounds pretty clear that your daughter is not enjoying her mare or any horses at the moment. As a mom you will need to determine how much this has affected your daughter. Maybe take her to visit other friends that have horses and see if she gets excited or interested just being around them and their horse. Another idea would be to take a trip back to the place where she originally took lessons. Watch her and see if she lights up again or asks to ride the safe quiet horse she knew from past lessons. How she responds to these situations will tell you a lot about how long it will take her to regain an interest.
It is also clear that the pony is in need of some training. This may be something that you decide to take on yourself or you may hire someone to train. I cannot tell the ponies size from the photo but you may be able to find a small adult that is able to assess the issue. It would be interesting to know if the pony was this testy with other riders or if she does respond better to a stronger rider. One of the issues with kids is that they really are tiny and lack both experience and strength to execute some things. I would NOT allow other kids to ride to find this out. Find a professional that you trust to evaluate the pony. A good candidate may be the person your daughter originally took lessons from. That person may be able to either assist in the hands on evaluation or give you contact information of someone who can.
There are also other ways to train or add to the ponies skills if you have the time and mindset to do so. Teaching a pony to drive can help keep their energy level in check with regular workouts where they are held accountable by adults. If you are determined to keep the pony you can be creative about ways to assist in the retraining.
It also sounds like you are considering selling. If you do sell it is your responsibility to tell any potential buyers of this ponies habit. I would recommend reading a blog I wrote titled ‘Should I sell my horse?’ In this article I site three things to consider: safety, enjoyment and purpose. Sometimes the thought of selling causes people a great deal of stress. I don’t think people should buy and sell horses without care but I do believe that there are many good homes out there and often a better fit for a horse and rider.
I also love reading the comments below the blogs as they often add to or highlight the information.
“…First it is your responsibility to ensure you find a good home before selling. Second, if nobody sold their horses that are no longer suitable to their needs than many of you would not have found your first horses or your perfect partners. … Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and ideas however, keeping a horse forever is not always feasible to everyone and although a lot of you appear to feel it is wrong to sell you should not make others feel that they are wrong for wanting to sell and find a new partner. It may benefit the horse as much as the individual.” Heidi I.
To read the full comment as well as others click here.
This decision won’t be an easy one and we haven’t even discussed your daughters response to the idea of selling. Keep asking and answering the two questions (What is best for your daughter? What is best for this pony?) and as you take her around other horses and have your pony evaluated by professionals I think you will find your answer.
“I have an 18 mo old colt and hope he’ll make a great kid pony in a few years. He’s currently 12.2 hh and 500lbs, so I don’t expect him to get very big. What can I do with him on the ground over the next few years to get him ready to ride? When the time comes to saddle and ride him, how do I go about that, with him being so small?”-Ariella G.
Great kids ponies can be worth their weight in gold…but not quite as easy to find. The challenge comes in training such a small steed. I like that you are already thinking about groundwork because so much can be accomplished there.
My first recommendation would be to do all the ‘standard’ groundwork that you saw me do in the Jac series plus any extra that occurs to you. Keep in mind that your goal is to have this pony trained for kids…so try to think like a kid. Kids do things that adults just don’t think of, like climbing the front of the stalls or riding a bike down the isle way. Your challenge is to think like a kid but correct like an adult. This means that you might think of something crazy a kid might do, but then break the training process down into steps.
Another thing I would highly recommend is training the pony to drive. Many great lessons happen during the cart training process that can directly carry over to riding. If you watch the Jac series you will see that I normally ground drive my colts. Breaking your colt to drive will have the same benefits, only better. One of the biggest drawbacks to ground driving is all the running around the handler has to do. Once your colt is trained to drive you will be more likely to continue the ‘driving’ lessons because riding in the cart is more fun than running behind him. A well trained driving horse, or pony, is soft and responsive to the bridle reins and the advantage for you is that it doesn’t require putting any weight on his back.
Groundwork, ground driving, ponying, and teaching him to pull a cart are all great things for creating a well trained pony without even mounting up. All of this preparation will make the transition to riding easier when he is grown and ready. The last challenge will be finding a small but experienced rider. Just because I say small doesn’t mean this needs to be a young person. I have met many ladies that were small enough to ride the pony you are describing.
It takes years of training to create a nice horse and it should take the same to create a great pony. The advantage of training your own will be that you will know him very well and will be able to prevent many of the problems that are common in ponies.
Growing up in Maine I expected snow and even looked forward to it. When the snow was almost belly deep to our pony my brother and I would lead her up to our house and climb on her bareback…and basically bridleless. She did have a halter on but we unsnapped the lead rope to let her run back to the barn…with us riding her!
She followed the same path we had lead her on which made a 90 degree turn following the corner of our house. Our goal was to jump off into the snow as she made that turn…then we would catch her back and the barn, lead her back, and do it again. Yep, I had a strange childhood:)
Do you live in an area that experiences winter? Do you enjoy it?
I think the nomadic idea was secretly planted in my head by my husband. It also helped that we met other people, one family in particular, that moved around with their family performing at rodeos and equine events.
Our life has slowly morphed into travel because we can serve more people by moving around both at clinics and expos. By the time our youngest son was seven he had traveled to 40 states…each time returning to Mount Gilead, Ohio. It just seemed logical to try living on the road. We also like the idea of spending more time together as a family. And we can always go back!
Now that we are in a full blown motor home we are ready to take this show on the road. Some of the goals our family has, outside of work are:
- see all 48 states (this lead to a discussion of Alaska & Hawaii)
- live ‘off the grid’ for a week…in RV terms this means staying in a remote location without electric, water or sewer hook up
- trail ride in the mountains…park the motor home and be able to ride from the camping site up into the mountains
If you were going to live in a motor home for a year…what would you hope to accomplish? What questions about our travel plans would you like us to answer?
A quick google search reveals that this is considered a ‘double seat western saddle’. As a kid, I rode double behind my mom a lot. We rode on a bareback pad. I tried riding behind a saddle but it really wasn’t fun… but we didn’t have one of these saddles either!
Now I am left to wonder if this saddle would have been a good answer or if bareback pad was the best.
Has anyone ever used one of these? I would love to know how you liked it and how well it fit the horse.