Kids Love Clicker Training
They really do! The other day I asked one of my junior trainer students whether she wanted to focus on riding or she wanted to focus on improving her clicker training skills on the ground. She responded very enthusiastically that she wanted to practice clicker training more!
We do ride with positive reinforcement and clicker training, but as she's a novice rider I do most of the feeding and clicking from the ground while she focuses on her riding.
However when she's on the ground she is the one shaping/clicking/reinforcing. So she gets to really clicker train! And she loves it. Makes my heart so happy.
Kids like riding, but they LOVE horses.
They love caring for them and being around them more than anything. Usually I find it’s the adults that want the riding and the showing. They want to know when their kid is going to be jumping like their friend’s kid is. Or when they can go to their first show. Or why their kids aren’t jumping higher yet.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting your kids to ride, or even show. I love these things too! But too many lesson programs focus on making the adults happy and not teaching the kids the necessary skills they need to be able to care for their horses and understand them.
This is why I tell parents I teach “horsemanship lessons”. We do ride, but not every lesson. We ride, but we don’t “use” the horse for riding if the horse isn’t willing. I teach kids how to listen to their horses, understand them, care for them, and be good horse people. Not just riders.
The lessons they learn from riding are valuable, but I would argue they are not nearly as valuable as the lessons learned about taking care of and respecting horses.
So if you’re a parent reading this and you want your kids to have “riding lessons”. I encourage you to look for a lesson program that will not just focus on riding, but will also teach…
Respecting horses and their boundaries
Listening to their body language and communication
Encouraging participation from the horse rather than taking it
How to care for a horse; physically, mentally, and emotionally
Safe handling skills and problem solving
Dedication and resilience even when things are challenging or uncomfortable
Empathy and understanding for the horse’s needs and perspective
It’s not easy to find a program like this, but I have hopes that one day these types of programs will be more “normal” the more demand there is for them! Your money and your time is powerful and will help shape the future!