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English riders-is jumping safe?

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Gayletmom

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My daughter, almost 10, started riding about 6 mos ago. She has such a passion for horses and has absolutely no fear. She mostly does hunter/jumper and loves to jump. She''s recently moved up to a slightly higher jump (2 ft) and my husband asked "is it safe?". What do those with experience think?

I should add that she always wears her helmet and I have alot of faith in her trainer. She''s not risky as far as I can tell it''s just that I am out of my element here as I am not a rider.

Thanks for your advice.
 

cara

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Safe - what''s your threshold? Driving a car is pretty unsafe. Do you plan to let your daughter drive? At 16 or wait till 18? Get in a car driven by other teens? Would you let your son play American football? What about soccer? (less risk of concussion, more risk of certain knee/leg injuries.)

There is certainly some risk that she will come off the horse and land violently, that the horse would land on her, and that she could be injured. Don''t want to lie or sugarcoat anything, its definitely possible. She should certainly wear a helmet, a properly approved helmet, and you should make sure she is taught at a facility where you trust the instruction and supervision and the horses are not pyscho and are matched to your daughter''s ability. She will need to ride more difficult horses to progress, but shouldn''t just be thrown on any horse when she is at any ability level. There is also an element to knowing your daughter and her strengths and weaknesses - is she the kind to do things she''s not ready for, or take unnecessary risks. Of course, part of the point of sport is to test your daughter, challenge her judgment and physical reasoning in a GOOD way, and make her in charge of making these judgments for herself, slowly, as she is able to make them.

I personally think 10 is a great age for taking up the sport - she should have enough strength and mental skills to really make progress but is not yet fully grown.

I started riding a little later, and was never super intense, but did break my finger and nose in falls, and once suffered a concussion. The two breaks were both related to jumps, both my fault in that I didn''t properly ride over the jump or manage my horse even though I was capable of better and the horse wasn''t doing anything particularly bad. And I had many other falls without injury, but the concussion was just a random accident practicing in the rain on a muddy course. The horse was completely well-mannered and listening and we were at a controlled gait, she just slipped in the mud and we both went down. That kind of stuff happens. I got back on thinking I was uninjured even though the horse had landed on my leg - and my leg was fine - but I kept asking what day it was. Brain not so fine.

I think riding is a great sport but it is not entirely without risk. The most serious injury is probably a Christopher Reed-type accident. Horse refuses jump, person continues on and lands head first. Helmets don''t entirely protect against concussions, and offer minimal protection against spinal cord accidents.

Of course, those catastrophic injuries are very rare. And if well-taught, your daughter will learn methods of avoiding a head-first landing. A 10-12 yro boy playing little league has some chance of dying due to the risk of getting hit in the chest with a medium-fast pitch and destabilizing their heart rhythm. Would you let your little boy play little league?
 

Tacori E-ring

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I rode from 4th grade-8th grade and jumped for years. I got thrown off twice (same day) but I didn''t break anything. I never had an injury but it got too scary (jumps kept getting higher) so I quit. I had a great time and the barn I went to had shows so I think it is great to build confidence.
 

Clio

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My daughter (age 11) has been riding since she was 6, and so far she''s been thrown once. As Cara points out, there are risks. Good safety precautions can minimize but not totally eliminate those risks. We''re satisfied with the way she is taught and with the safety measures at her stable, and really that''s the best one can do.
 

purrfectpear

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It''s as safe as riding a bicycle in traffic with a helmet. Most of the time it''s all good, but when it goes bad...it can go really bad. Two feet isn''t much of a jump, but she probably won''t stop there.

You have to weigh your willingness to accept a Chris Reeve injury against curtailing something she loves.
 

elrohwen

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Horseback riding, especially jumping, will never be a sure thing and I know it can be scary to watch. However, if done right and done safely, I think your daughter will be fine. In my experience, the majority of very serious injuries happen as the jumps get higher and the ride gets faster. There is always the potential for freak accidents, but that's the case with many sports. If you need more information on safety, maybe schedule a time to talk with her trainer about it? She could probably put it in perspective for you and reassure you on the safeness of her lesson horses and methods.

On the other hand, 2ft seems quite high for a 10 year old that has only been riding for 6 months. I don't really remember what I was jumping at that point, but I'm pretty sure it was only very low cross-rails, done at a trot. What gait is she jumping from - trot or canter?

ETA: From my personal experience, I rode for 13 years (mostly jumpers with a little polo thrown in) and have only fallen off a handful of times; no injuries. It is absolutely possible to be safe. Sure, something random could've happened to me, but my trainer put me on horses that I could handle and we jumped low jumps. Lesson horses are rarely allowed to jump over a few feet because it can tire them out easily (and cause injuries) so if she sticks with lesson horses, I doubt she will reach dangerous jumping heights. If she gets her own horse and starts entering high level shows, then yes, there is a more real danger there.
 

October2008bride

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I rode for 10 years or so and have fallen off a zillion times and (knock on wood) have never truly injured myself. Just my pride once in a while!

I was taught how to fall though - at the beginning you can be so afraid of falling that it a) causes you to fall because you are not relaxed and b) when you do fall, you are all tense that you do injure yourself. Once your daughter learns that falling is part of being a rider and that it usually doesn''t hurt all that much, she can relax and will be fine!!

Now...if only I could have convinced my parents of that ;-)

But yes, generally it is safe. I would''t call it a high risk sport in any way. I learned a lot by riding through my ''formative'' years - responsibility, committment, and I had something else to focus on when my friends started only focusing on boys!! I attribute a lot of my successes to my years spent riding/competing. HTH.
 

dani13

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Hmmm...I do think that riding in general is much more dangerous than your other run-of-the-mill sports. Maybe because Im a very new rider? I dont really know. I think that you can have a good trainer, learn how to fall the proper way, etc., but at the end of the day, horses are still animals and can be *VERY* unpredictable!!! Just today I was at the barn and one of the horses freaked out, reared up, and took off full force in the indoor ring (thank God no one was on her)!!! It was very scary, and it took my trainer about 5 mins till he finally caught her. Just tell your daughter to be safe:)
 

CNOS128

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Obviously there''s a risk, but the rewards are great as well. I rode for several years when I was about 11 until about 14, and it taught me so much about myself and life and how to be responsible and disciplined. Jumping is great, especially at moderate heights - and I don''t see it as being any more dangerous than riding on flat ground, especially if you''re well taught (including how to fall). The only times I actually fell off horses were when the horse was spooked by a sudden noise, or when I was riding a horse I didn''t know how to control, or once on a trail ride through the woods when I was doing something stupid -- never going over a jump.
 

Kaleigh

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I rode for many years. I had a very ambitious trainer. I was jumping 4 foot jumps at the age of 10. Yes I fell off a lot. Most of that happened in hunts, where you are chasing the fox jumping over anything that is in your way.


My horse was a love. It wasn''t the horse, it was more the riding teacher wanting me to do more than my little frame could handle. I do have neck issues because of the falls. But after riding I went straight to gymnastics and fell on my head some too.


If the riding teacher keeps her doing what your DD is comfotable with, and doesn''t increase the jumps by a lot, she should be fine. Learning how to fall is key too.

I do miss my riding days.
 

Person24

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Riding is definitely a dangerous sport. Some get lucky, some don''t. I rode hunter/jumpers for my entire childhood and into college. I have had a couple serious accidents and my fair share of minor falls. I have had friends with broken, bones concussions from riding accidents. Most of the major accidents were with younger or untrained horses but, you never really know what is going to happen when you are on a horse. Riding large animal with its own brain can lead to some unpredictable results. I don''t think jumping 2ft is very risky. But, like someone else said as the jumps get higher the more potential for accidents and crashes.

Even if it is dangerous I think it is a good experience for kids. I know it definitely kept me out of trouble. For me the danger of injury was outweighed by the benefit of riding distracting me from “bad” things I could have been doing.
 

cara

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I think I''ve posted this story before, but one of my favorite memories from the barn I worked at is of this of this girl whose mother pulled her out of riding at ~13 yro because it was getting too expensive as her daughter was getting better and all her friends were leasing horses. At the time her daughter was kind of awkward-looking 13 yro with too-long legs, braces, flat chest, angular face, etc.

One year later, back comes mama with her daughter to sign her up for everything she can. Daughter is drop-dead gorgeous. She is now model tall and proportionate with a nice chest, her face rounded out and matured, braces off, looks 18 yro easy and a knockout to boot! Boys are calling, daughter is calling back and wearing make-up, etc. Mom says, "I want my daughter to have a horse, I want her to love her horse, I want her here everyday taking care of that horse, taking every spare minute of her weekends going to shows riding her horse, etc. Please tell me what it costs, I want her to love*her*horse."

It was a riot! Not that riding or other sports can keep a teen determined to take the foolish path on the straight and narrow, but so many of the bad choices are made from idleness and opportunity. Somehow when this mom realized the other ways her daughter might choose to spend her teen years, the math on the cost of that riding changed quite dramatically!
 

somethingshiny

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I haven''t read the responses but wanted to add my experiences.

Firstly, when dealing with an animal who has a mind of his own, you can''t guarantee safe anything. (That goes for dogs, cats, horses, everything)

I started jumping when I was about 14. Over the next 10 years of jumping up to almost 6 feet, I went off a quite a few times but was only injured once. (besides the normal backed-into, stepped-on, regular horse stuff and getting thrown when appropriate.) The time I got injured wasn''t particularly bad, but I lost consciousness. Mind you, I was jumping a horse that wasn''t quite broke in a field he was completely unfamiliar with. I was not wearing a helmet at the time and would''ve probably been fine if I was. My best friend who breaks and trains horses has come off pretty badly on a few occasions, but luckily never sustained severe injuries. (nothing more than some cuts and bruises and being landed on in soft ground) I have a cousin who sustained fairly bad injuries when she was just riding a trail. Her horse spooked and threw her into a barbed wire fence and got very cut up and broke a wrist and several ribs. My point is: yes she can definitely get hurt. But, if she''s riding any horse in any way there''s chance for injury.

If your daughter and the horse are trained well, personally I would have no problem with her jumping. If she''s jumping a horse that doesn''t yet have the skills or is trying to train him personally or if she''s nervous herself about the jumps, I would be nervous.
 

hoofbeats95

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"Safe" is such a tricky topic. Depends on your definition. I took up riding in college. I haven''t done a lot of jumping cause my horse had leg issues that prevented it. But we have played around and even did a little mini even which was a blast. You have to trust the conditions I think. You have to trust the trainer most of all. Then you have to trust that she''s putting your daughter on a well schooled horse. One that is a school master so to speak. Falls will happen. Has she fallen yet? Have you seen her fall? The majority of falls are minor and have no issues. But you never know. I was giving a young girl (she was probably 11-12 at that time) a lesson on my horse. It was a simple walk/trot/canter lesson working mostly on her figuring out her posting diagonal. She lost a stirrup and got tense - my horse got unnerved by that (he was not and is not a school master but was well within her range) and started cantering. She lost her other stirrup and got tense, lost her balance and fell off. She kind of fell into the wall of the arena and landed on her feet. All seemed well - put her back on the horse (her mother was there and agreed). Finished the lesson and I told her she could take Eli back to his stall. She asked "Where is his stall?" That was the first sign. On the ride home there were other facts (age, day of week, etc) that she couldn''t remember. Mom took her to the hospital and she had a mild concussion. The funny thing about concussions is that the mildest fall can cause them. I believe it''s all about angle to some degree. Anyways, that wasn''t even a jumping lesson. So. . . horse riding in inherently risky. But lots of people do it. You and your husband have to be comfortable with the risks. I will say I wish that I had learned at a younger age. I would be much more confident now! I''ve had my fair share of falls. Got mild whiplash once and a really really sore tailbone once. But nothing has ever been broken - besides my pride! Most recenly in Dec my horse freaked out suddenly - leapt through the air and twisted like a bull at the rodeo. I was in the air in the blink of an eye. I don''t bounce anymore! I was embarassed and sore! So it can happen at any time even in the safest of conditions. If your daughter loves it then I recommend you letting her continue and you see how comfortable you are with it. I will say that 2 ft. is really nothing for most horses. 2 ft is about the point where my horse decides he should actually jump rather than just try to walk over it! Ha ha. But as I was saying it''s much better for her to learn now. In some regards the "no fear" that children have really help. They also tend to move with the horse much easier and can stay on in situations were an adult with the same time in the saddle might come off. So I''d continue with it and see how comfortable everyone remains. That''s the best advice, in a round about way, that I can give. :)
 

Elmorton

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I jumped from about age 10-13. It was the best darned experience I had during my junior high years.

I haven''t read the other responses, but here''s my take (and because I fully intend to let my someday children ride if they want to - it''s a wonderful, wonderful sport/hobby for children that teaches respect, responsibility, and is great for the body, too):

Riding a horse isn''t exactly safe. At the end of the day, the best trained horse is still a very large animal.

But, if your daughter is comfortable with what she''s doing, under the supervision of a responsible trainer and riding a horse that has been well-trained and handled, jumping is no more or less safe than just getting into the saddle. It''s problematic if your daughter feels like she''s being pushed into doing something she''s not ready to, if she''s uncomfortable on the horse, or if the trainer doesn''t have any experience with being a trainer.

I won''t tell you that it''s not without some risk - there were times that I took the jump and my horse refused it - but I never got hurt, and I don''t think I even cried. Part of my training as a rider was how to take a fall. I just got right back on like you''re supposed to, and made sure my signals to the horse were right the second time. Also, at that age, I was only going over 2-3 ft jumps, and my horse was 14 hands. My trainer matched the horse and the jumps to my abilities and wasn''t pushing me to do anything that I wasn''t ready to do.

Gayle, I think you''re definitely asking the right questions - I know my parents were terrified the first time they came to a lesson and I had a hard time handling my horse (that first day of warm weather is to horses like it is little children), but at the end of the day, it was such a good experience for me at that age. If your daughter loves it, and if you have faith in her trainer, it sounds like she''s right where she should be.
 

FrekeChild

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You know, my mom stopped me from riding when Christopher Reeve had his accident. It just cemented her fear of horses. It was the one sport I truly enjoyed...

I never really forgave her for that.
 

Lorelei

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Jumping is dangerous - period. As is any horse riding activity there is always an element of danger. The best way to protect her as much as possible is to get her coached in how to fall should this happen, and get her to work on her seat ( the term used for learning balance and security in the saddle) as much as possible.

Make sure she always wears a helmet which meets the recommended safety standards and a body protector, and suitable clothing and footwear.

Teach your daughter to be aware of her horse at all times and the cues he or she is giving and signs of ill health.

Make sure she checks her tack thoroughly before each ride, tedious but necessary. Check stitching, buckles, general condition of the leather etc. Make sure it fits the horse comfortably. Always pick feet before and after riding, even small rocks caught in the foot can cause stumbling when the horse is travelling at speed especially. Check the shoes are secure.

And lastly let her go at her own pace and build up to bigger jumps as she feels ready.

Apart from that jumping can be great fun and something I used to very much enjoy!
 

Pandora II

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I rode a lot as a child and teenager - and being in the UK I only ever rode English style or whatever it's called.

Riding is not a 'safe' sport, so it all depends on what you interpret 'safe' to mean. You can reduce risks, but accidents can happen.

I managed to clock up two broken wrists, 4 broken toes, a hairline skull fracture and concussion - did it stop me riding...? No way. Did it make my mother worried? Yes and fed up with the amount of time she spent in ER having bits of me x-rayed and put in plaster!

I was fairly wild as a child and I'm not sure my parents could have stopped me from doing or jumping what I wanted to do.

I do have friends who didn't manage to injure themselves at all though.

One of my greatest sadnesses is that I'm not really allowed to ride anymore because of my spine.

ETA: I will clarify that I wasn't often riding the horses at the riding stables - I used to spend a lot of time at my godfather's and his youngest daughter was a member of the British Equestrian Team, so I was riding fairly big, powerful and highly strung horses and that probably explains why I spent a fair amount of time flying through the air!

The skull fracture was thanks to a very young horse who was being broken in and spooked at something. Somehow I fell off and caught a glancing blow from one of the front hooves. I was pretty lucky (I was 8 at the time and they reckon my skull bones were still soft enough to have bent rather than broken).
 

hoofbeats95

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Date: 3/11/2009 12:01:16 AM
Author: FrekeChild
You know, my mom stopped me from riding when Christopher Reeve had his accident. It just cemented her fear of horses. It was the one sport I truly enjoyed...

I never really forgave her for that.
When i first got my horse my mom was soooo worried that I would "end up like superman!" Nice huh? Once she got to know my horse and watched me ride more often she was ok with it. At least I assume she is cause she stopped mentioning it. I actually had a rather touchy talk with my parents about what would happen if something serious happened to me like that. I made them promise to never blame my horse. . . to send him away somewhere that wasn''t safe. . . and I suggested people that would care for him if they just couldn''t do it for whatever reason (financial/emotional).
 

dragonfly411

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I''m going to reply before reading other responses

I''ve ridden horses my entire life. Technically, is one ever REALLY safe on a horse? I don''t think jumping is any riskier than say barrel racing, or even trail riding. I mean yes, jumping requires them being in the air over a jump, but I would worry too much. The horses are jumping through skill, and most horses will do as much as they can to keep their riders on. A horse can spook on the flat, from a dead walk, and she could fall. Falls happen in horses. I can honestly say that I''ve fallen many times and never had serious injury. As long as she is a balanced, well learned rider, and she is wearing a helmet I wouldn''t worry too much :) And be proud and encourage her in riding, It''s a passion not to be reckoned with and I''m telling you it keeps kids out of trouble!! She''ll learn responsibility, posture, discipline, and she''ll have fun. Please don''t ever take that away
 

LaraOnline

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This is an interesting question. I'm sure you'll get lots of different responses. Riding a motorcycle is pretty high risk, but the pleasure of it means that many people continue to ride and enjoy.

I grew up with horses on cattle stations (ranches), and rode often. I had a bad break in my arm at age 12 as a result of this lifestyle.
then I married a vet, who, as part of his everyday, must take risks with horses to treat them for all sorts of illnesses.

He is very negative about jumping, (and several other popular horse activities, such as pacing, actually) as he says it is basically an unnatural action that strains the horse and creates injury. Well, I guess a doctor would say that!
 

dragonfly411

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Lara - I''m not trying to dispute him, but rather gather his viewpoint. Why does he think jumping is unnatural? Is it because of the carrying of the rider? Horses jump things all the time in the wild (My baby jumped a five foot fence when he felt threatened by another horse for instant... he was 1 lol, or when they jump ditches, logs, and even rocks?) Sorry just wanting his insight from another viewpoint :)
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/11/2009 10:07:38 AM
Author: hoofbeats95


Date: 3/11/2009 12:01:16 AM
Author: FrekeChild
You know, my mom stopped me from riding when Christopher Reeve had his accident. It just cemented her fear of horses. It was the one sport I truly enjoyed...

I never really forgave her for that.
When i first got my horse my mom was soooo worried that I would 'end up like superman!' Nice huh? Once she got to know my horse and watched me ride more often she was ok with it. At least I assume she is cause she stopped mentioning it. I actually had a rather touchy talk with my parents about what would happen if something serious happened to me like that. I made them promise to never blame my horse. . . to send him away somewhere that wasn't safe. . . and I suggested people that would care for him if they just couldn't do it for whatever reason (financial/emotional).
My mom hated coming to my lessons and could never watch while I was jumping. But she never once suggested I quit! I'm glad she let me do it for almost the entire time I was growing up.
 

Irishgrrrl

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Gayle, I can understand your concerns . . . my Mom had those same concerns when I was your daughter's age!


I have been teaching hunt seat equitation (including a LOT of jumping) for about 15 years now. I have to say this: THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTER IS TO MAKE HER WEAR HER HELMET EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

The vast majority of serious injuries sustained by riders are head injuries. The ONLY serious injury I myself have EVER sustained in 28 years of riding was a head injury. Thankfully, I was wearing my helmet (as I always do). If I had not been wearing my helmet that day, I can pretty much guarantee you that I would not be typing this right now.

Any reputable riding instructor will INSIST that all students wear helmets while riding in a lesson. Unfortunately, however, your daughter's riding instructor can't always be looking over her shoulder. So, on occasions when she is riding outside of her regular lessons (maybe she owns a horse or is leasing one or is riding a friend's horse, etc.), you need to INSIST that she wear her helmet. Also, make sure she gets a brand new helmet EVERY time she falls. Even if there is no obvious outward damage to the helmet, the structure and strength of the helmet can be compromised by even a slight blow. You don't want to run the risk that there's a weak spot in her helmet from the last time she fell. And make sure she understands that she never "outgrows" the need to wear a helmet . . . in other words, helmets aren't just for kids! When she turns 18, her instructor can no longer force her to wear a helmet in lessons. However, many instructors (myself included) refuse to teach anyone who refuses to wear a helmet. I have a policy: Find a helmet, or find another instructor.

In all my years of riding, I can honestly say that I have never fallen while jumping. In fact, my most serious fall occurred in an indoor arena and there was not a single jump in that arena. I have heard it said that a rider is never safer than when she's in the air over a jump. A horse can't buck, crow-hop, rear, bolt, etc. while he's in the air . . . it's getting to the jump before taking off and getting away from the jump after landing that might cause problems! However, as others have said, if your daughter is a well-trained rider, she will most likely be fine. I say "most likely" because there are no guarantees when it comes to horses. They are very large animals with minds of their own, and they do tend to be unpredictable sometimes. Even the calmest, quietest, most well-behaved lesson pony can spook and throw his rider under the right circumstances. Which goes back to why we always need to wear our helmets. ALWAYS. (Did I make that clear enough yet??? LOL!)

I have to say, there is something that concerns me: You mentioned that your daughter has only been riding for six months, and she's already jumping two feet. I'm not sure that she should be jumping at all yet. I normally teach my beginner riders on the flat for a year AT MINIMUM before they ever get anywhere near a jump. For myself as an instructor, I need to KNOW that my student has an excellent, well balanced seat at all three gaits before I feel comfortable putting her over a jump. When one of my riders IS ready to start jumping, I start her over small cross-rails first and then very gradually work up to verticals and eventually oxers, increasing the height of the jumps by tiny increments over a period of months (and sometimes years). It is VERY important to make sure that a rider is not over-faced. That can be an extremely scary situation for the rider (and by extension, for the horse as well), and can often lead to "unplanned dismounts."

Unfortunately, many riders don't feel comfortable voicing their apprehension to the instructor . . . they see the instructor as an authority figure and they feel that they MUST do whatever the instructor tells them, no matter how nervous they are. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Your daughter's instructor should be receptive to any and all questions/concerns voiced by you, your husband, and (most importantly) your daughter. The instructor should give your daughter encouragement and guidance, but should never force your daughter to do anything that she doesn't want to do. You might want to have a very in-depth conversation with your daughter about what her goals are, and what aspects of riding make her nervous. If her goal is to be able to jump three feet, and she has no desire to move on to anything higher than that, make sure the instructor doesn't push her. Above all, riding should be FUN! If your daughter gets to a point where she's afraid and/or feels that she is riding more for other people than for herself, then there's something wrong. (From what you posted, it doesn't sound like she's at that point yet, but you will want to keep this in mind for the future.)

Good luck, and I hope this was helpful!
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/11/2009 11:17:58 AM
Author: Irishgrrrl
Gayle, I can understand your concerns . . . my Mom had those same concerns when I was your daughter's age!


I have been teaching hunt seat equitation (including a LOT of jumping) for about 15 years now. I have to say this: THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTER IS TO MAKE HER WEAR HER HELMET EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

The vast majority of serious injuries sustained by riders are head injuries. The ONLY serious injury I myself have EVER sustained in 28 years of riding was a head injury. Thankfully, I was wearing my helmet (as I always do). If I had not been wearing my helmet that day, I can pretty much guarantee you that I would not be typing this right now.

Any reputable riding instructor will INSIST that all students wear helmets while riding in a lesson. Unfortunately, however, your daughter's riding instructor can't always be looking over her shoulder. So, on occasions when she is riding outside of her regular lessons (maybe she owns a horse or is leasing one or is riding a friend's horse, etc.), you need to INSIST that she wear her helmet. Also, make sure she gets a brand new helmet EVERY time she falls. Even if there is no obvious outward damage to the helmet, the structure and strength of the helmet can be compromised by even a slight blow. You don't want to run the risk that there's a weak spot in her helmet from the last time she fell. And make sure she understands that she never 'outgrows' the need to wear a helmet . . . in other words, helmets aren't just for kids! When she turns 18, her instructor can no longer force her to wear a helmet in lessons. However, many instructors (myself included) refuse to teach anyone who refuses to wear a helmet. I have a policy: Find a helmet, or find another instructor.

In all my years of riding, I can honestly say that I have never fallen while jumping. In fact, my most serious fall occurred in an indoor arena and there was not a single jump in that arena. I have heard it said that a rider is never safer than when she's in the air over a jump. A horse can't buck, crow-hop, rear, bolt, etc. while he's in the air . . . it's getting to the jump before taking off and getting away from the jump after landing that might cause problems! However, as others have said, if your daughter is a well-trained rider, she will most likely be fine. I say 'most likely' because there are no guarantees when it comes to horses. They are very large animals with minds of their own, and they do tend to be unpredictable sometimes. Even the calmest, quietest, most well-behaved lesson pony can spook and throw his rider under the right circumstances. Which goes back to why we always need to wear our helmets. ALWAYS. (Did I make that clear enough yet??? LOL!)

I have to say, there is something that concerns me: You mentioned that your daughter has only been riding for six months, and she's already jumping two feet. I'm not sure that she should be jumping at all yet. I normally teach my beginner riders on the flat for a year AT MINIMUM before they ever get anywhere near a jump. For myself as an instructor, I need to KNOW that my student has an excellent, well balanced seat at all three gaits before I feel comfortable putting her over a jump. When one of my riders IS ready to start jumping, I start her over small cross-rails first and then very gradually work up to verticals and eventually oxers, increasing the height of the jumps by tiny increments over a period of months (and sometimes years). It is VERY important to make sure that a rider is not over-faced. That can be an extremely scary situation for the rider (and by extension, for the horse as well), and can often lead to 'unplanned dismounts.'

Unfortunately, many riders don't feel comfortable voicing their apprehension to the instructor . . . they see the instructor as an authority figure and they feel that they MUST do whatever the instructor tells them, no matter how nervous they are. THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! Your daughter's instructor should be receptive to any and all questions/concerns voiced by you, your husband, and (most importantly) your daughter. The instructor should give your daughter encouragement and guidance, but should never force your daughter to do anything that she doesn't want to do. You might want to have a very in-depth conversation with your daughter about what her goals are, and what aspects of riding make her nervous. If her goal is to be able to jump three feet, and she has no desire to move on to anything higher than that, make sure the instructor doesn't push her. Above all, riding should be FUN! If your daughter gets to a point where she's afraid and/or feels that she is riding more for other people than for herself, then there's something wrong. (From what you posted, it doesn't sound like she's at that point yet, but you will want to keep this in mind for the future.)

Good luck, and I hope this was helpful!
Emm, I'm so glad you mentioned this! It was definitely a red flag for me and I was hoping that you would pick up on it as well because you teach on a regular basis (and I was trying to remember what happened 15 years ago
) Around 2ft a horse is actually jumping a bit, not just picking their feet up, and this seems quite advanced for any 6 month rider, especially one so young. And I totally agree that goals are important. You can have fun and become a good rider while never jumping more than 3ft (I'm not sure I've jumped much higher and I did it for 13 years!). You can also get your own horse, enter shows, and be jumping 4-5ft eventually. It's important to discuss this with the trainer up front so they know how much to push. It's not all about jumping the highest fence; being able to ride well on the flat is much more important because if you can ride well on the flat, you can handle jumps. I've seen some kids jumping 3ft who have terrible positions and it makes me wish that their trainers held them back a bit and made them work on the basics more; the basics are what keep you safe!
 

Irishgrrrl

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Date: 3/11/2009 11:30:29 AM
Author: elrohwen

Emm, I''m so glad you mentioned this! It was definitely a red flag for me and I was hoping that you would pick up on it as well because you teach on a regular basis (and I was trying to remember what happened 15 years ago
) Around 2ft a horse is actually jumping a bit, not just picking their feet up, and this seems quite advanced for any 6 month rider, especially one so young. And I totally agree that goals are important. You can have fun and become a good rider while never jumping more than 3ft (I''m not sure I''ve jumped much higher and I did it for 13 years!). You can also get your own horse, enter shows, and be jumping 4-5ft eventually. It''s important to discuss this with the trainer up front so they know how much to push. It''s not all about jumping the highest fence; being able to ride well on the flat is much more important because if you can ride well on the flat, you can handle jumps. I''ve seen some kids jumping 3ft who have terrible positions and it makes me wish that their trainers held them back a bit and made them work on the basics more; the basics are what keep you safe!
El, this is very true, and ESPECIALLY true if we''re dealing with a smallish critter! My 16.2 hand TB can pretty easily get over a two-foot jump without too much actual "jumping," but a 14 hand pony would have to really JUMP to get over a two-foot vertical. I don''t know what size beastie Gayle''s daughter is riding in her lessons, but if she''s riding a pony, she is most definitely JUMPING these two-foot jumps as opposed to just kind of stepping over them as a larger horse might be able to do. Or, maybe she''s riding a larger horse who *could* get over a two-foot jump with minimal effort, but really enjoys jumping and *wants* to actually JUMP that thing. I just think two feet is awfully high for someone who is so new to riding. Again, if she were my student, I would not have her jumping at all yet (although she very well might be trotting over ground poles and practicing her two-point position).

Ya know, I have horsey friends who don''t jump at all, and they''re perplexed as to why I do. "That''s so scary . . . I wouldn''t even be having any fun if I were jumping!" is what I often hear from these people. AND THAT''S OK!!! I''m a big believer in doing whatever we find to be enjoyable with our horses, depending on our comfort level and the horse''s comfort level. No one "has" to do anything at all, and trying to force someone to progress beyond where they want to go just takes the fun out of riding IMO. (Not that I think Gayle''s daughter''s instructor is doing this . . . just a general statement.)
 

hoofbeats95

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Messages
1,442
Yikes - I missed that 6 month thing. Only riding for 6 months? Umm - how often? Once, twice, three times a week? I daresay that 6 months is way to soon to start jumping. Maybe some trot poles - but jumping?? Typically a rider is not balanced enough to be doing this yet. Especially when most students that don''t have their own horse only take lessons once or twice a week. Has she done any lunge lessons? Without stirrups and reins? While I''m all for her learning to jump - this might be too soon.
 

Lorelei

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Date: 3/11/2009 11:02:08 AM
Author: LaraOnline
This is an interesting question. I'm sure you'll get lots of different responses. Riding a motorcycle is pretty high risk, but the pleasure of it means that many people continue to ride and enjoy.

I grew up with horses on cattle stations (ranches), and rode often. I had a bad break in my arm at age 12 as a result of this lifestyle.
then I married a vet, who, as part of his everyday, must take risks with horses to treat them for all sorts of illnesses.

He is very negative about jumping, (and several other popular horse activities, such as pacing, actually) as he says it is basically an unnatural action that strains the horse and creates injury. Well, I guess a doctor would say that!
My thoughts on this are from knowing a young horse who was made to do too much too soon - particularly jumping - and now cannot be ridden, that in my opinion too much can be asked of young horses before their physical bodies are mature enough to handle it. A horse will jump if it needs to but it isn't something a horse will routinely do, only when needed to escape from danger or achieve a particular purpose and of course there isn't a human on their back in those cases, so when a horse is asked to jump repeatedly without the correct conditioning, with inexperienced people riding and training him or is immature physically and various other reasons, then of course problems can occur.
 

dragonfly411

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Messages
7,378
Lorelei - I 100% agree there. But how do you feel about horses who seem to do it for fun? I had a half arab who literally would knock over my sister''s barrels in the paddock, and jump them........ on his own...... and he seemed to get a real kick out of it..... To me those are the horses meant to be in jumping. Just like a horse who runs fast and seems to always make sure he''s ahead of the others in the pack is meant to race type of deal?
 

Lorelei

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Date: 3/11/2009 5:14:11 PM
Author: dragonfly411
Lorelei - I 100% agree there. But how do you feel about horses who seem to do it for fun? I had a half arab who literally would knock over my sister's barrels in the paddock, and jump them........ on his own...... and he seemed to get a real kick out of it..... To me those are the horses meant to be in jumping. Just like a horse who runs fast and seems to always make sure he's ahead of the others in the pack is meant to race type of deal?
Sure you can get equine ' agilists' and for those like your chappie who do it for the heck of it then thats fine, if he does it for the heck of it I bet he has a blast! My worry is a general one - I know of a horse at the moment who cannot be ridden due to being pushed too hard too young which included excessive jumping, this horse is only 8 years old and can only now be a companion. This horse in particular is a large animal of excellent conformation who would have been very successful and suitable for many disciplines, but due to an owner who couldn't be patient enough to let this horse mature, her career is over before it had even begun. As above, and trying to force horses who are not really suitable or fit enough to jump on a regular basis to do so, sadly over the years I have seen this quite often.
 
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