I get asked this a lot need advice.

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Firefall

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Hi again,

Since I have the taller B minis I get people asking me how do ya train a mini for riding? I don't have a good answer for them.

I do tell them that I have a mini that has never been trained but will let small kids ride her.

I also tell them about the weight limits ect. but how do ya train a mini for riding?

Then someone asked me if ya tain them like a large horse?

Help?
 

SunQuest

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I always say that we use other people's kids to train the minis for riding. Laughs. They kind of shut up and give me that deer in the headlights stare. LOL.

Actually after that I explain that they are trained just like the full sized horse but have a 25 to 40 pound weight limit, and that usually minis are not used for riding, but rather for pulling a cart, but we do try to teach all the minis to carry anything that is light weight that will stay on their backs. Human coats, lunge lines, blankets, ect. This normally stops the questions. (I have b-sized that I am using for this. Would never use my a-sized minis to let children sit on)
 
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Firefall

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Oh good, thats kind of what I said, but it took me off guard. LOL Whew! I feel "not so dumb" Thanks! The people probably thought oh brother she doesn't know anything about em! he he he
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I love the "use other peoples kids" line, I'll have to remember that one.
 

Chamomile

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I usually tell them that minis were not bred to be ridden, even by little kids. I explain about the weight limit and tell them that I will let small children sit on their backs, but that I don't encourage it! I use my horses for driving and that is it!
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They usually stop then... I figure I don't want them to buy a horse if their intention is to have kids ride them anyway! That's my opinion...
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Dr. Pam

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I am a firm beliver that minis make wonderful riding animals. My three children all learned to ride on our 36"-38" minis, including trail rides. Common sense is the key--a 75# child on a 34" mini is no different than a 150# person on a 40" Shetland. We have all been to 4H and local shows and seen the small horse with the big kid who has outgrown him--sometimes with their feet almost dragging the ground.

Minis have no inherent "structural" weakness in their spine that makes them unsuitalbe for riding. I start all my minis with ground driving so they learn to respond to voice and bit pressure. It may be the temperment I select for, but I have never had a mini offer to buck off it's rider, even the first time. My 3 B mares--even my high powered Park mare--were neighborhood favorites (Margo C-T now has my 38" best "riding" mare--my neighbors son used her for 7 and under barrels at the Fair)

Here are a couple recent photos from last year's Iowa State Fair:

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Mark ( 55#) on my 36 1/2 inch mare Sunny

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Jesse (32#) on my 32" mare Sally. Jesse was smart as a whip but teeny tiny for her age--she's in an 8" saddle. She rode that mare by herself all over my property.
 

ali

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Dr. Pam,

You mentioned an 8" seat saddle. The catalogues I've looked at are offering a 10" western or 12" english. In your experience would either of these sizes suit to take a very lightweight child for a large 'B' mini? Two of mine are 37" brutes! My 34" mare is definately not going to be considered as she is a very fine pleasure harness horse. Personally mine and we are a team. Best matched too!

I look at two of my mini's and I can't imagine why they wouldn't be able to have a small framed, light weight, knowledgeable child ride them. The child of course, would have to be very gentle and not some 'yahoo' spur me up Scotty kind! I despise having to look at a horse that is being reefed on or spurred. My QH mare is very soft-mouthed and neck reined, very gentle and none of my friends are allowed to ride her if they aren't riders already. Certain friends were allowed to get on her but only if I led them around. Yes, they looked silly and felt silly! Never asked to ride her again though!

I feature that once the grandchildren come along, I'll insist on weekend visitation and if I can imprint them from birth with the smell of horse flesh then I will have done my job!
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Taking into consideration that one would be responsible and break the horse gently and at the appropriate age. I think I'm going to do some more research on the subject before I make a final decision. Any links, Dr. Pam?

thanks

P.S. Please don't flame me...educate me! Always willing to learn something new every day.
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I may have an icon out of place. Still haven't figured out how to go back and edit with icons.
 

ali

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OK! I do have an icon out of place and it is the green one up at the top. Sorry folks!

Still learning!
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Dr. Pam

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ali said:
Dr. Pam,
You mentioned an 8" seat saddle.  The catalogues I've looked at are offering a 10" western or 12" english.  In your experience would either of these sizes suit to take a very lightweight child for a large 'B' mini?  Two of mine are 37" brutes!  My 34" mare is definately not going to be considered as she is a very fine pleasure harness horse.  Personally mine and we are a team.  Best matched too!

I look at two of my mini's and I can't imagine why they wouldn't be able to have a small framed, light weight, knowledgeable child ride them.  The child of course, would have to be very gentle and not some 'yahoo' spur me up Scotty kind! I despise having to look at a horse that is being reefed on or spurred.  My QH mare is very soft-mouthed and neck reined, very gentle and none of my friends are allowed to ride her if they aren't riders already. Certain friends were allowed to get on her but only if I led them around.  Yes, they looked silly and felt silly!  Never asked to ride her again though!

I feature that once the grandchildren come along, I'll insist on weekend visitation and if I can imprint them from birth with the smell of horse flesh then I will have done my job!
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Taking into consideration that one would be responsible and break the horse gently and at the appropriate age.  I think I'm going to do some more research on the subject before I make a final decision.  Any links, Dr. Pam?

thanks

P.S.  Please don't flame me...educate me!  Always willing to learn something new every day.
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I may have an icon out of place.  Still haven't figured out how to go back and edit with icons.

498183[/snapback]

If they flame you, they gotta take me out too! The 8" saddle I bought on Ebay, and while very pretty and fully functional, there aren't many kids who can use it! The little boy on the sorrel is in a 10" saddle and it fits him well. That mare is a very solid built 36 1/2". That young man also rode my lighter framed 36" Park mare--you would not believe she was my ball of fire driving horse watching him on her. All my horses are ridden in an eggbutt snaffle bit.

My 38" mare could wear a 12" saddle without it hitting her hip bones--always look for saddles with round skirting like the Arab saddles. Most saddles have enough clearance in the gullet, but are too "flat" sitting on a mini's back. Most are designed to sit on much broader backs. My other problem is most saddle pads are too thick, witch causes the saddle to roll.

They now have darling western bridles available and I've seen some mini curb bits--no way I would put that in the hands of a child. I have an English saddle and bridle as well that fit; the problem was again finding an appropriate pad.

Since Patty is too big to start my minis now, once they are going well with driving we saddle them and set an available child on them (we had a great variety to choose from in IA
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) These were all children who already knew how to ride and wouldn't panic or scream--very important. The child wears a helmet and there are two assistants--one at the horses head and a spotter walking alongside. The first couple sessions were just short walks. Once we knew the horse was accepting, we'd have the rider shift weight, lightly move his/her legs around, pat the neck etc. Next step was handing the reins over to the rider (still with a lead rope attached) and have him start asking for turns. Next step was long line in the round pen, second person watching but available. Then the long line would come off.

Since these kids did lead line, we did most of the practice on the lead, working on seat, balance, posture, and teaching their mom or dad where they were supposed to be. Total time from first time on to working well was 2-4 weeks. **these were all horses who were already driving**

I have not taught any of my minis how to neck rein. Yet.
 

ali

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Whew! Thanks for the support!
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I love your pics.

I have a few years yet but I've always exposed my critters to as much as I possibly can, whenever I can.

Thank you for all the imput and I'll print off your recommendations. I've had a very tiny pony saddle on one of my mini's but it was ill-fitting. A friend's 3 yr old daughter was popped onto one of my mini's bareback and the mini didn't seem to mind. What are your thoughts on a child riding a mini bareback? Any experiences?

Thanks again.
 

EllieB

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Dr. Pam. Thank you for your post! Being relatively new to the mini-world, I've often wondered why people said you couldn't let small children ride the minis. I let my young daughter sit on them and they certainly didn't act like they even noticed her on their back. And I've seen small children ride them in parades and other places & the minis seemed to be having a good time; not in pain or under pressure. I've also seen minis that have been ridden by children for years and they don't have any damage, lameness, back problems, pain, or anything else that could be associated with overwork. I've heard both the opinions of "no riding at all" and then the "weight limits & in moderation". The latter seems a lot more logical to me. Like you said, there really is no structural reason the minis can't carry weight as long as proportion and common sense are used. Your input, especially coming from a professional, is greatly appreciated!
 

Firefall

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Lots of great info! When a friend of mine borrowed my mini mare for a 4-h riding class for small children, this mare had never been ridden and she did great! Never offered to buck or act up at all. This mare is also very solid, built like a tank. Hmmmmmmmmmm maybe I should change her name?
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Anyway, I have seen bare back pads for minis in different sizes on Ebay and they also have stirrups on them. I thought about getting one just to put on their backs to get used to the feeling. No small kids here to test!
 

Dr. Pam

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You're welcome Ali and Ellie. Bareback is great--teaches the kids balance. Please make sure you get the kids helmets.

I like the whole imprinting them at birth thing--when I found out I was pregnant the first time, my first purchace was a leadline English saddle. Still have it. We're not in a "neighborhood" here in Texas--I'm about ready to start snatching random children in town.
 

Dr. Pam

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Aaaakkkk
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I have seen bare back pads for minis in different sizes on Ebay and they also have stirrups on them
Bareback pads are great, but never ever use them with stirrups, no matter what size horse you are riding. Since there is no tree to stabilize it, a sudden shift in balance will leave you under the horse with feet potentially trapped. I saw it happen to a friend of mine many many moons ago at our riding stable. She had just gotten a new pad and was so proud it had stirrups. She suffered a concussion--the stable owner was so mad (she didn't see it before Mary went riding) that anyone would ever make and sell those. She cut off the stirrups and we all got lectured. Man, I wish every horse crazy kid could grow up around a Maxine.....
 

Firefall

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Wow thats good to know! I had one for my Shetland when I was a kid. I don't remember using it very much though.

Thanks!
 

Margo_C-T

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Pam!!

You didn't even mention that Dusty was also 'broke' to ride!! Dang-now I may have to do as you threatened-snatch some random kid from somewhere(one who knows how to ride, of course! to put on her!!
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My grandkids are all 'WAY out in California-and probably, all too old/too big, anyway...I have a very small Western saddle-have to measure, but surely no more than a 12" seat-that was saddlemaker-made, and belonged to one of my cousins-along with a pony pad and, I think, still a pony-sized Navajo saddle blanket! Now I'll HAVE to at least try it on Dusty...

To go a bit off-topic--I have been lately driving Dusty more-found a great location only a mile down the road-a section of state land where a track has been bladed! Complete with a draw in the middle, where we can cross(here's where you need the breeching-it's pretty steep, but Dusty girl knows how to use the breeching, and lean into the collar going up!!) FUN, FUN, FUN!!! A friend and I were down there day before yesterday-she drives a Rhotens Little Dandy SON, a full(but honestly!) 34" gelding, with lots of"go", so he kept up easily with Dusty, but she was commenting with admiration on Dusty's easy, groundcovering stride! I got Dusty a beta harness, complete with the deep V breast collar, from the Carriage House, and LOVE it! The Bennington, which is mainly for Dusty, was supposed to dock in Houston day before yesterday; I am on tenterhooks for it to now get the rest of the way(took 18 days for it to cross the Atlantic; think they ROWED on the way over!!)-but have no way to estimate how long it'll now take to get HERE...anxious, anxious!!

As to the original question--I see no problem with a youngster of appropriate weight sitting on/riding, some of my 32-34" horses. However, a child small enough to ride one that size, isn't likely to be able to direct the horse on their own, IMO. I see this as the biggest limiting factor in riding minis. That, and getting a saddle that will actually FIT well enough that it won't sore the horse's back....as long as a good pad is used, and the horse isn't ridden for long, nor by too heavy a youngster, it's not a huge issue-but something to keep in mind.

On bareback pads...I agree completely that there should NOT be stirrups on one! I rode bareback almost exclusively as a kid-even after my dear uncle who got me hooked on equines bought me a saddle, I still rode bareback 'most all of the time! Later, I would take a mohair girth and an old cinch strap, and use this to hold just a saddle pad on--made a great 'bareback pad', out of stuff I already had--and anyone can do it!
 

Black Magic

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Our first mini was Horsezilla... he'36 and 325 lbs. It was difficult wiith green children, and a green horse... but we did it... Lol.. Oh heck, I was green as green can be too. First my goal was to get him to accept wearing a saddle. I walked that boy 100 miles up and down the road with his saddle on, and he loved being walked like a dog. He had a halter on, and would love to sneak a bit of grass from time to time, and so he loved to go out for a walk, even if he had to wear his saddle. Now I have to say a few people tried to longe the boy.. wasn't happening. His previous owner DIED of a heart attack when he was trying to train him. (They didn't tell me that until after we purchased him). He just loved his long walks, greeting the neighborsd, snorting at the local dogs, showing his butt to local dogs... and frequently acting like a big mean donkey. He was alo also a four year old stallion at the time, and there are lots of full size mares in our neighborhood. Anyway, I walked him ,and walked him and walked him...

Finally, I put our 35 lb daughter on him, and put reigns on his halter. She couldn't begin to keep his head up and out of the grass, but.... we'd make sure he was on pavement, not near the grass. He still loved his walks. After six mos of walking him, and doing lead line exercises with our little daughter on him, we introducted the bit and bridal. Not his idea of fun, but by then it was routine that he take his walks... with all his tact. Repetition I think is the key for training any animal.

Anyway, with about a year and a half of being ridden by the kids, the 35 lb daughter (who is Ms Petite and now over 40 lbs), she does a 2'9" crossbar with him. Okay, so we're still working with him. Sometimes, he likes to cheat and go around the jump, instead of over it... and he does this twisty thing around the side at the last min. HE HAS NEVER DUMPED her in the dirt.

A while back, we were looking at some property, that had an obvious trail, and there was a 40 in fence, I was trying to figure how to get on the other side, without messing with the fence. Just as I was looking for the best direction in the trail to take... Horsezilla jumped the fence.. with the daughter on him.. never a spill.

It's more work for me to train a mini to be ridden, because I gotta do all this walking, but, well, without any experience training horses... I get it done. Darling daughter has now trained her sister's mini to be ridden, and has done all the work herself, in the front yard... She's only six years old.

When asked the question, how do you train a mini horse, I always answer. "It's just like training a dog, repetition, repetition, repetition..."

God Bless,

Lynn W

(If I wasn't so dumb, I'd post one of the pictures of her riding one of the minis.)
 

Dr. Pam

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There were some pictures posted on the Forum a few years back, and I can only find one of them in my files. My favorite series was a little boy roping off his mini. This one is also great--does anyone remember who this is? I only have that it is Taylor on Vixen:

taylorvixenbarrels00.jpg
 
L

Lisa-Ruff N Tuff Minis

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This topic well I often keep my mouth shut but I can tell you that as a kid I had and owned ponies that were the same size as many of these minis and we rode them all over the place on trails , in the ring, over fences whatever these ponies did it all. Of course I wasnt a teen with legs dragging on the ground. Common sense has to come into play but minis are rideable , are easily trainable and it is done all the time without being cruel without having ignorant owners, without sacrificing neighbors toddlers
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Again this is no different then many of the "ponies"we had and rode as kids just called something different. Now would i put a heftier built kid on a refined mini of course not again common sense but believe me Raven has plans to ride her new mare and our B gelding as soon as he is old enough he will be 2 and will start ground driving this winter and be ready for her soon enough
 

dannigirl

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This is my granddaugher Abby (age 3 1/2) on Trouble (6 yr old-30" gelding) with a 10" saddle. They are visiting a nursing home and making smiles. I use the 10" saddle on all of my minis from 30" on up. And this little guy does this with no boots or any other hoof covering. It takes good trimming, lots of training and careful walking. He only slipped a little one time when I was not watching close enough and there was a wet spot on the floor. I usually watch that VERY closely and we had him walk accross a towel a couple of times to get his feet dry again.

I do not like bareback because it is too hard for the little ones to stay on. I also watch the weight, but that is not the only problem. Some little people just have no balance and they need to have someone on at least one side of them--if not both--to make sure they do not fall or kick the sides of the horse.

Angie
 
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Driving4fun

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My daughter has been riding my minis since she was born and is now going on 5 yrs old. We are currently looking for a riding horse for her to take lessons on. But I will promise she will continue to go ride some of my minis also. I have a 36" guy she rides englisjh and western a 31" guy she rides english and you can guess she and the little guy in my icon to the left are never seperated! She won her first driving class this fall and numerous lead line classes and has shown them in costume and showmanship. I always make sure she is not too heavy for the ones she rides or any other kids that come along. I always match them up. They have all done well and love the kids, when they get off they just continue to follow them around, like they are expecting something else fun to do!

Minis and the kids are wonderful together!
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