Teaching kids to ride a pony

I got to go mentor at the stables again today. My student was a 6 year old girl who had come once before, and she got to ride the little welsh pony gelding, Lightning. He’s a bit of a pill, though I’m told that’s typical pony – he’s always trying to see what he can get away with! I had a go-around with him last week when I went to halter him and he managed to make it difficult and shake his halter off three times before I could get it fastened – so I was ready for him!

First we went and got him out of the paddock, and he met us at the gate. I haltered him up with no problem and then I let the girl walk him back, while I walked on the other side with my hand on his halter so he wouldn’t take off on her. We tied him in his stall and then the girl started grooming him. She was so excited to ride him again, it was really cute, but she also wasn’t putting up with any nonsense from him – if he nudged her she told him to back off! She did great! We got him all cleaned up, and then I held each foot for her while she picked them out, and I helped her when needed. Then we got him saddled up and got his bridle on and walked him over to the arena.

Inside the arena they had set up cones and some logs to walk over. We started out with the kids leading the horses around with the mentors holding onto the halters (there were 4 horses in the arena), and then the kids got to handle the horses alone, but with mentors right nearby. After a couple laps they mounted up, and got to practice some balance exercises while we led the horses, then they went on to directing the horse themselves, then we were able to take off the lead ropes if they were confident and let them ride, while we walked alongside. She was scared to trot because he takes off with a little hop, but her mom kept encouraging her, and on the final lap we talked her into trotting for about 20 feet with me holding his halter – and of course she loved it and wanted to do it again so we did one more lap so she could trot again before dismounting!

Afterwards we brought all the horses back to the barn, then the kids helped take hay to the horses that were staying in the paddocks all night. They all seemed to have a great time helping out with the chores. It is so rewarding to help little kids get to play with horses – I wish I could have done this when I was a kid, but it’s great to help other kids have that experience now, and I think I’m learning as much as they are, and building my own confidence at the same time 🙂


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