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Question and Answer

by Karen Tharp on 08/16/11

I’m very sorry I have not kept up with the blog!  I wish I could use that I’ve been to busy but the truth is I have not been up to par, but I promise you I will make a better attempt at keeping up with it!

Today’s blog is a question I received

Question

We have a new 7-year old Arab mare that adores my daughter (8-years old) and my daughter her. We keep her at my Inlaw's house and we try to go out to see her many days a week or so. When we go out there my daughter spends lots of time out in the pasture just hanging out with our horse and the two of them have grown quite fond of each other. 

I would love for my daughter to have some fun projects to do with our horse in the round pen before we ride, maybe 10 minutes, 15 at most. I would be right there with her of course but some way that she can learn communication skills and have a goal apart from riding. My daughter has mentioned that she would like to teach her horse something and I told her that sometimes it takes weeks or months for a horse to learn - no worries for my daughter (could she actually be learning patience?) I would love any ideas for something simple and hopefully fun that a child could work on with supervision. Keep in mind that I'm not terribly experienced at training either but I'm very excited to learn!

I was thinking maybe teaching her how to square up? I'm open to any ideas, it doesn't have to be anything useful. Just another bonding, fun, new experience for a young girl and her horse.

Answer:

What an exciting adventure the two you have in front of you! Discovering the love and need for horses will last a life time if you do it properly.

Someone once said that a childhood spent with horses is a childhood spent learning responsibility.   When children start spending time with horses, they start on the path of learning, and the wonderful adventure is that this learning is a lifelong pursuit.  I remember my grandfather telling me that bonding with horses is much more than barn chores and riding lessons.  It is a time when a trusting partnership between person and horse develops.  A horse, just as a child, if there is no trust and respect, he will not listen.  We all know that it is impossible to eliminate all the risks when dealing with horses,  but education on horse safety will greatly reduce the possibility of an accident and injury


I've discovered that mares in particular can be the most loyal once you gain their trust. The first thing I would work on is respect and patience. Your horse must know that you are the Alfa animal. Access to a round pen will be a huge help.

Especially because of the inexperience the two of you have, I would pick up a book to start you off.. A book on ground training is where I would start; then I would move on to (or even at the same time), lunging and round pen exercises. I recommend reading for several reasons. The first is because it is reading and anytime you can teach a child to use books as a reference, that is great. Next reason is because you can read the pertaining chapter over and over until it makes sense - and you can take it with you to the horse.

Patience is a word you will hear and read over and over. It takes time for a horse to understand what you are asking and time for you to understand HOW to ask it. Read - that is my suggestion.

Anderson, books by Chris Cox, Mary Twelveponies, John Lyons, Monte Roberts, and others are great. Just don't buy into too many of their products!

After a liftime of horses I still use my "library" of reference books even if it is just as a refresher.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!


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