top of page

Pony Rider Club

For several years, Linden Farm Riding Academy accepted children as young as three for weekly riding lessons.  The children loved their ponies and parents were mostly very cooperative.  However, the attention span of a three- or four-year old is often quite short and after twenty minutes they might be bored with the lesson and want to talk about the kitty or their new toy.  Parents were indignant when lesson were cut short even when we tried to explain that forcing a young child to pay attention when they were clearly unhappy was not developing a love of riding in these children.

In the Summer it was too hot, in the Winter too cold.  If we tried to introduce games to keep the child’s interest, parents were upset because they were paying for “lessons”.  In twenty years of running the Academy, we only saw one young rider under six continue with lessons beyond a few months.  By the time these children were of an age wherein they SHOULD be riding, their prior experience was negative.  “I tried that and didn’t like it.”  “I used to ride, and it wasn’t fun”.  Even when the child now of an age to take proper lessons asked for lessons, the parent often squashed the idea with “Well, we tried that and after six months you quit.  I am not wasting my time and money on riding again.”

The result was that we all lost.  Linden lost an excellent group of potential long-term students who had an early love of horses, and the little riders lost the future opportunity to explore their sport and really learn to ride.

In December 2020, we had an influx of parents and grandparents who wanted to sign their children up for lessons, and we anticipated another round of disappointment on both sides.  It was then we had the idea of a more relaxed, fun-oriented “pony experience”.   Once a month would not become a burden for the child, but a fun-time they looked forward to.  While we would ensure that the children “learned”, we would do so through games and fun activities rather than the discipline of a formal lesson. 

Each child would have a “minder”, a young, experienced rider who was comfortable around the ponies and who would keep each child safe during the session.  These young riders would “teach” by introducing new vocabulary.  “No, we don’t “get on” our pony, we “mount” our pony.  Can you say that”?  “No, that is your pony’s “mane”, not his hair.  Can you say mane?”  etc.

Learning to mount the steps of the mounting block and then jump off to develop coordination and the skills to properly dismount.  Running little races with the right arm extended to the right as though leading a pony in preparation for running on the rough surface of the arena, and the skill to safely lead a pony.  These are all activities we are planning.  We would even take the children on their ponies on short trail rides through the woods and around the farm to keep the fun and excitement a reality. 

It is our hope and our plan, that as these Pony Riders get a little older and of an age to start regular lessons they will transition very easily into a weekly regimen and start their lessons with a far greater set of skills than the average child of seven or eight.

So, welcome to our great experiment!  After almost two years, we are getting very favorable reviews, and even those Pony Riders who do not choose to move into regular lessons will still carry with them a wonderful memory of the great times they had with the Linden Ponies.

 

EACH CHILD SHOULD WEAR LONG PANTS, SHORT ANKLE HIGH “PADDOCK BOOTS” AND A RIDING HELMET.  A bicycle helmet is NOT acceptable.

 

We do have a small number of used paddock boots you may try for your child $10 a pair.  We have helmets for your first visit but after we have fitted your child with a helmet and advised regarding size, then we ask you to have your own helmet for the next session.

Helmets and paddock boots available from Tractor Supply or Wheatley’s Tack Shop on Wheatly Rd in La Plata.

bottom of page