Step 1: Hold tight.
Step 2: Lead right.
Step 3: Ride in sight.
My name is Don Jessop and I want to show you how I train a kids horse. Believe me when I say this is surface information. There is more to learn about every subject. But I believe this basic outline will empower many parents and youth instructors or teachers to guide horses to become great kids horses.
Step one, (hold tight) is all about teaching your new kids-horse-prospect to hold his or her ground. Basically, to stand still no matter what. Make him or her unflappable. Desensitize to flags, flapping arms and legs, saddles, hoses, ropes, noises, flashing plastic bags, touch, bumping, poking, climbing, scrambling, you name it. Teach your horse to hold his ground till until the cows come come, unless you want movement, then he/she should move on command too.
Step two, (lead right) is all about teaching your horse to lead properly in preparation for being a calm, responsible horse. Many people get this wrong. Or perhaps I should say, backward. There are a many ways to lead your own horse, but when training a horse to be a kids horse there is only one truly effective way that both gets you where you want to go and teaches the horse something about consistency, reliability, and giving full attention to the handler. That one truly effective leading style is simple. Cause your horse to move slowly behind you, never in front, and not usually to the side. You want you horse to walk like a trail horse, nose to tail, and completely focused on the one in front. Cause the horse to stay on the track, not allowing drifting left or right or forward and not dragging on the line either. My best kids horses are the ones that lead slowly and lead consistently. If a horse won't do those things, he/she's not ready to hold a kid up there yet.
Step three, (ride in sight) is all about staying connected to the rider. As an adult you don't want your kid riding off into the sunset. Not yet anyway. Be there, be near by, be an anchor. Use a lead rope and teach the young rider to ride around you and turn each way, all on his own cues. Gradually, the horse will become responsive to the rider and not you on the ground. Before you know it, you can take the lead off and get the same results. But don't leave the area. Be that anchor for the ship in harbor. Stay connected and safe and before long, your young rider will be able to perform all the basic riding tasks around or near you, gradually stepping out into bigger spaces. Take your time with step three and have fun.
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PS. Be open, there are many roads that lead to Rome. Consider the information above as one of those roads. Don't be too rule oriented when you're learning and sharing information.
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