Daughter bucked off in lessons-confidence shaken and joy almost gone, how to rebuild?

Great tip! It probably will not be a huge challenge for her but I think she will enjoy that type of thing. :slight_smile:


Right now she’s still pretty comfortable at the walk and really wants to go on some trail rides. So what I did the last few lessons was I just led the pony back to the barn from the arena. Not a proper trail ride but out in the sun and it is a very beautiful barn with great scenery. So that is the kind of thing she enjoys. She also does like grooming and takes pride and doing it all and getting her polos wrapped so I don’t think it hurts to take some extra time there!


And there’s your clue. Clearly (at least to me) this instructor is not for your child. And if you continue on, she will learn to hate riding. I’ve seen it before. Please don’t let this instructor ruin riding for her.


She’s 9 years old. She did pester me this year about getting into a consistent lessons as when she was younger It was just on and off. This was the first year that she seemed actually passionate about doing it. I will say she always does hop right back on. But as determined as she can be at the same time she is a cautious child. So I’m not surprised that there’s a little bit of hesitation now. If anything I was surprised that she kept righting after the first time getting bucked off.

She says she still wants to keep riding but she’s not feeling safe with the instructor.

She really actually prefers lunge lessons over all. Although when she was writing horses and not ponies she really enjoyed being off of a lunge line and steering on her own. She really has a natural seat and likes to be challenged to do different things on the lunge. She struggles to get real tough and firm with the ponies and I understand as I’m the same way (although I came to terms with it!)

I do think trail riding would be something she would really enjoy right now.

Yeah I already told her she doesn’t have to go back. We already paid for lesson package but I’m pretty sure that I can just take the lessons that we already paid for or roll them over in some way for me. Or maybe I can get a refund or just take it as a loss. There definitely isn’t a point to go if she’s nervous and not enjoying it anymore.

I do think the instructor is a bit tough on her because I think she sees some potential at least in my daughter’s natural seat and balance. But it just doesn’t work for my daughter’s personality at least not through this.

So here’s a question for you guys what do I tell the instructor now? Just that she’s too nervous and not really enjoying it anymore and that I’m letting her back off of riding?

yes. No need to explain further.


I think this is perfect.

Then start asking around and find an instructor that does those little one up down lessons and makes them fun while they learn.


The only time I see kids lunged in a lesson is when they are super tiny so that their legs aren’t long enough to kick and their arms aren’t coordinated enough to steer. But at 9, your daughter should be steering herself and kicking herself. I honestly think it’s weird someone is chasing a pony with a lunge whip to canter on a lunge line while a kid just sits there. That’s not actually riding. That’s just having a (dangerous) pony ride. Definitely find someone who knows how to teach kids. And if your daughter doesn’t like to kick, then buy her a motorbike.


I would. I mean I think it’s important feedback for the trainer to get too. As an adult, we go to a trainer because we want to be better riders. Kids however, in the beginning, a lot of times are just taking lessons because they love horses and find riding fun. I think sometimes trainers forget that.


Well it was more in a dressage type way, to develop an independent seat. But I agree that obviously there is a lot more to riding than that. And I totally agree that her chasing the pony into canter is just not good. It was kind of wild-hence the bucking!I think people are being to harsh on the not wanting to kick comment. She’s ridden some more easily motivated horses in the past- so I think it’s perfectly normal to get frustrated about kicking 30 times in a row to get the pony in a trot.



Yup. And that brings up another consideration I’ve observed over the years. Frequently, the most appropriate equine for the job of teaching young kids is not the one many people assume is the right one! I’ve seen it so many times. We had so many pony problems one year at a summer camp for beginners that we were down to literally the last rideable horse on the farm – a 16.2hh OTTB mare who was a rather particular & spicy ride. Darned if she wasn’t a totally different horse with one of the little kids in the saddle, like “OMG! Precious cargo on board! Dobbin, move your fat a$$ outta my way, I got a 6yo to teach here, ooooooo kaaaaaay???”

Ponies tend to be more hit or miss in that regard. Just today, some crank in FB was bitching in the comments under the Upperville Leadline photos, “[Sniff.] They all look overmounted. Whatever happened to small ponies for small people?” First off lady, they’re 18 months old. They don’t ride yet. The parents borrowed a horse. Second, 99% of very small ponies are evil. I swear. Some people just can’t let others enjoy something. They gotta snark.


Sweet baby Jesus… it would be a cold day in hell before I would let someone put me on a pony on a line and then chase it into a canter with a whip. That’s a recipe for disaster right there. NOPE… time for a new trainer. It sounds like this one’s talent does not lie in teaching the little ones.


I had a trainer like that. When I didn’t pick up cantering fast enough (because I was nervous; my pony at the time would always buck and spook at the same spot), I was simply banned from cantering any horse. For over a year. I am still, to this day, 14 years later, extremely nervous about cantering new horses because it cemented in my brain that I can’t do it.


A trainer that fosters a young child’s love of horses and allows them to learn in a safe environment is worth the world.
Sounds like your trainer while qualified, doesn’t have the skill set to teach young beginners.
I was very fortunate to have an incredible coach from 5-12. She was brilliant at giving young riders confidence and while I fell off as much as any other kid, I always had the confidence to get back on.
She gave tons of lunge line lessons and never used lunging as a way to exert excess energy, always used voice cues for the pony which helped during lunging lessons and also off the lead.
Since your daughter sounds like she is still excited to ride, just not with this trainer. Find her an excellent beginner coach who will let her ride and work at her own pace, there’s no rush to canter or do anything else.

PS, a great way for a kind to naturally feel a bit strides of a canter is an extremely small cross rail. The pony trots to it, hops over and lands cantering from the momentum, canters 3-4 strides and breaks to a trot. Again, it takes a special pony to reach a kid and a special trainer too!


My spicy, challenging to ride OTTB mare is like this. When a kid or beginner who isn’t balanced yet is on her she’s like “you’re not balanced, we are walking now.” My forward jumper will walk over crossrails with kids if she feels like they aren’t balanced enough, and will jog around very calmly with them as they learn to post. She’s a good mare.


This!! She’s ridden about 10 different mounts. Only had this “won’t go unless it’s tail is on fire” issue with this one. There is a reason the instructor was going wild with the lunge whip. Not saying it was correct. But this pony is LAZY lol


This is exactly what I was going to say - this is sort of how I learned to canter (albeit in a 30-acre pasture because, like Scribbler, I was given a pony and told to go have fun and not to come back unless something was broken or bleeding). The pony will trot up to the crossrail, your daughter will learn two-point and how to grab mane, and she will get a couple of strides of canter before the pony (probably) drops back to a trot. Eventually, she will learn to keep the pony in the canter by sitting up and applying leg.

If the pony is lazy, then I would think the instructor would instruct your daughter how to get him motivated, rather than chasing him with a whip . . . I almost got killed by an over-zealous instructor doing this. Pony decided going up and over was better than being whipped anymore. This whole story makes my skin crawl.


So half of the lesson was usually on lunge and half off with her riding independently. She has her pony kick (as hard as she can) and use a crop on the pony. She still only gets going occasionally. I can see that it is truly physically tiring for my daughter to try and get this pony to trot on her own. It’s not that she’s lazy- it is frustrating! I have been there
Both ponies bucked about 3 to 5 bucks. Pretty decent sized bucks too. So not like a small “woohoo” moment.
I’m glad she hasn’t been hurt

Ugh that’s ridiculous, I can’t stand mean trainers like that, especially for kids who aren’t able to stand up for themselves with authority figures vs an adult amateur who is probably more comfortable putting their foot down. Like I do not mind being yelled at if I’m actively doing something wrong but being afraid does not make you ride better and pushing past your comfort zone can result in very scary outcomes!


I believe OP needs to find another place as none these ponies/horses sound suitable for a beginner or even some one that is a little beyond. I would not be at ease with any of these school horses as all sound sour needing a break or possibility a trip to France.

Ours children were lucky as we had our horses at home and the horses were specifically purchased to be child mounts (but they did much more). Our horses would challenge their charge but not overwhelm them. If the rider was a true beginner it was impressive to me to see the horse side step to recenter the kid into the saddle. We were fortunate to have stock that took care with the rider.