April 12, 2024

I was at the Tryon Intercontinental Equestrian Middle (North Carolina) just one summertime observing rounds whilst waiting to go into the ring, and a certain white pony caught my eye. It was a very good jumper, competitive, courageous and had the sweetest disposition. Above the summer I kept viewing this pony and could not assist but observe it over and over once more. 

The child was not very prepared to outgrow it, but then once more, my daughter, Kinser Vale, was only 3. My spouse Mallory Vale considered I was crazy when I had her observe the kid race around and acquire the children’s jumper course at Tryon on it. She was asking why in the globe was I scouting ponies when our child was hardly carrying out walk, trot, canter. My remedy was: Good horses make very good riders, and the most effective time to invest in a horse is when you obtain a great a single, no matter if you will need it straight away or not. 

Very good horses or ponies are not straightforward to come across, and the prospects to obtain them are even less regular. We constantly say this to one a further. It is legitimate of riders of any age but especially for junior riders studying the ropes. 

I requested about this pony so considerably that sooner or later the child commenced using with me, and we went to USEF Pony Finals (Kentucky). She did sooner or later outgrow Magic Beans, and I was joyful to get the pony for my daughter. Kinser started off using Magic Beans when she was 5. She is 9 now, and we nonetheless have Magic Beans in the relatives. Kinser loves this pony, and she loves staying competitive. This variety soul has been a staple in my kid’s training and drive to journey. 

Aaron Vale’s daughter, Kinser Vale, 9, was just 3 when he uncovered pony Magic Beans for her. She started out riding him at 5, and these days the two are aggressive in jumper lessons jointly. Andrew Ryback Pictures Image

Earning It Entertaining

As a parent in this field, persons frequently question me questions like, “Do you treatment if she rides?” or, “How do you keep her intrigued in this?” My responses are normally the similar: This must be pleasurable for the kids. As I just mentioned, superior horses make excellent riders, and the little ones want to have a drive to trip. 

There are so many facets of developing a fun surroundings for kids, and a primary 1 is owning a good trainer. It is difficult sufficient when we are at a show, functioning from ring to ring and dealing with conflicts. Time receives limited horses get fresh, and persons get frustrated. As a mum or dad and coach, I make positive to not get upset in these times. 

If you are a parent, I just can’t stimulate you plenty of to find a trainer or mentor who constantly continues to be emotionally reliable. If they are a accurate professional, they will be able to do this no make a difference the problem. It is very little new for them. The previous factor your child wants to listen to is a screaming coach when they last but not least do clearly show up to the ring to warm up. Practically nothing fantastic arrives from this, and it’s not enjoyable. Your trainer’s angle will reflect on your child’s wish to trip and means to discover. 

As a mother or father the second most encouraging point I can say is: Do your analysis. I do not care how a lot of ribbons a barn has on their banner, go observe their riders just before you decide a trainer or are seeking to modify trainers. Not only look at the coach experience, watch their pupils. Enjoy their working day-to-working day processes and be observant. This is extremely simple investigation to do whilst at a demonstrate. 

To acquire superior riders, you should have a very good trainer to go alongside with the superior horse. I am not saying a kid will under no circumstances have a terrible round with a superior trainer, but not receiving close to should not be the norm. I the moment experienced a newer barn mother say to me, “Wow, everyone here continually does so a lot much better. If you watch other barns, fifty percent of their riders are not earning it around or are always getting poles down.” She experienced in no way been section of a true professional plan, and the so-identified as “bad rounds” were being the norm. 

Manufactured Horses Only 

This can take me to my authentic issue that excellent horses make good riders. Juniors, specially at decrease stages, must start out out on created horses. There are so quite a few variables to this activity that they 1st want to understand to experience. No 8- to 12-calendar year-outdated really should have to go and try to kick a spooky horse or pony around and fail half the time. It is not entertaining. It is not pleasurable for the horse, the kid, the father or mother or the trainer. Results ought to appear to start with in this. 

You can discover to are unsuccessful after you 1st study to journey properly. Get that eco-friendly pony or job horse only after your child has had hundreds of superior journeys in the ring. Indeed, hundreds. I would not consider myself insane if I built Kinser do countless numbers of visits in the ring before we go the route of getting her a eco-friendly horse or pony. 

“If you are a guardian, I just cannot persuade you enough to locate a coach or mentor who generally continues to be emotionally steady. If they are a legitimate expert, they will be capable to do this no make a difference the situation.” 

My kid is by now 9, and she has yet to journey a definitely inexperienced horse or pony. I have no curiosity in her accomplishing that but. She is not all set, and there is no place in scaring her. The worst mix you can have is a timid child that is worried to kick. I am not declaring we have not had our share of falls or rounds not going the way we just desired, but my point is that we are initial discovering to function by way of them on excellent ponies. 

When I select horses for my pupils, the similar goes for them. They need horses that can assistance them work through their mistakes. Why in the globe do I want to make this more difficult for them and/or me? If your horse or pony is not suitable for your child, then come across the subsequent a single. I do not care if you market it at a loss. Do not threat your child acquiring harm and/or worried. Go on and find that superior horse to make your kid a great rider. 

If you can purchase many horses, then do it. The much more rounds and prospects a kid has in the ring, the a lot quicker they will master. I imagine that for a child to certainly master they must have 3 horses to compete. These excess excursions assistance kids not concentrate on that very last trip that is nagging them about how they could have completed better. Extra horses allow them have more entertaining, and they find out to win more quickly and be far more aggressive each individual excursion in the ring. 

If you simply cannot do that, then enable your child dangle out at the barn and have every single opportunity to get in the saddle far more. But make sure those possibilities are on very good ample horses right until they are previous enough to realize any issues. 

A enthusiastic kid who wants to catch some additional rides can still do it these days. And if you have to clean 20 bridles to do it, then do it. A lot of people feel these days are absent. I do not. The place there is a will, there is a way. 

Creating The Drive

The very last level I need to provide up is the motivation to ride. A parent cannot make their child want to do this. When Kinser was 2, some days we would just brush the pony and adorn the pony. We would use coloured hair spray, stencils and glitter hoof polish. Some days we would do this for so extensive that by the time we bought the pony tacked up to trip, she did not want to, and so we did not make her. 

When I was about 6 a long time outdated, I was worried to canter. My parents would host regional exhibits, and I could not jump nonetheless because I was afraid to canter, but they did not make me. Alternatively I would participate in each flat class. When it came time to canter through the course, I would go stand in the middle of the ring and hold out for the course to complete. My parents made it pleasurable plenty of for me to want to do it, and it was Ok to consider my time at that age. A single day I just stayed out on the rail and cantered myself. The rest is historical past. When youngsters are youthful, permit them get confident themselves. Permit them establish that drive do not try out and create it for them. 

By the time youngsters get to me for coaching and coaching, they ordinarily have that want. It’s important to immediate that motivation into objectives. To retain juniors fascinated, it should be much more than driving close to the exact ring for the 100th time. Every single 12 months set a intention or a team of goals—whether it is qualifying for a final, transferring up a division, or discovering to nail that lead modify. 

It is critical to contain junior riders everyday. Question them to aid established jumps have them provide that young horse up to the ring to jog him and get him out of the stall allow them aid with the veterinarians send out them to the place of work. There is so significantly far more to this than demonstrating up to ride. If they are likely to actually get this sport, they require to be component of the team in full. Far too lots of young ones handle this like tennis: They go out and perform, then toss the racket in the garage. Youngsters present up, get on their horses, hop off and go grab a coffee. 

Using really should not be taken care of as an exercise. Driving is a passion. Mom and dad ought to really encourage their children to help in the barn a lot more, and a kid with a true drive will want to anyway. Trainers ought to let them. If they want to be fantastic at this at any top level, it must not be up to the enable to do everything. Kinser can totally tack up her pony, wash her pony, load and unload her pony, and cleanse her tack. She is aware about hocks, stifles and tendons. She is not the biggest at clipping or cleansing stalls but, but we are nevertheless learning. 

I have an understanding of acquiring aid, and we need support when we are busy at the shows and house, but that is not an justification to not master about your horse. 

Becoming all around horses is an awesome way to teach your baby about daily life. There are so numerous ups and downs in this activity that it truly assists a junior understand to cope with existence. The horse neighborhood is an amazing, supportive 1 on so a lot of ranges. It is so significant for young ones to be able to aid one a different. If we can promote great sportsmanship in today’s planet as trainers and parents, then we ought to. 

A single detail we can do better is educate junior riders not to evaluate them selves to a single another in the display ring. Social media lures little ones into evaluating their ring benefits, even nevertheless each and every horse and rider is in a absolutely distinct scenario. 

I detest observing juniors going for walks to and from their rings searching at their telephone. You are on a 1,200-pound animal that, among other matters, can trip at the wander, so spend awareness. Get off Instagram for that a few-moment walk back to the barn from the ring. Spend extra focus to your horse. Shell out additional attention to the rounds and leading-good quality riders proper in front of you at the shows. Go walk the grand prix training course, even if you’re not in it. 

Understand and be open to mastering. Go away your cellphone in your tack trunk. Leave your feelings on how a great deal you want to transfer up—because your friend did, and you have not yet—behind. In its place, be more robust than your excuses. Turn that drive into benefits. 


Top rated grand prix rider Aaron Vale operates his Thinkslikeahorse education facility in Williston, Florida, with excellent jumpers, hunters and equitation horses. Numerous of his students compete on younger rider and Prix des States teams, qualify for the top equitation finals, and turn out to be thriving grand prix riders.

Vale has won a lot more than 275 grand prix lessons and represented the U.S. crew on European tours and in Nations Cups, as effectively as placed in the World Cup Finals. He’s received numerous USHJA Intercontinental and National Hunter Derbies and 2 times gained the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix (New York). As a junior rider, he was reserve winner at the ASPCA Maclay, USEF Medal and USET Talent Look for. He was named Finest Kid Rider at Washington and the Pennsylvania National.

He lives with his spouse, Mallory, and daughter, Kinser.


This write-up appeared in the June 26-July 17, 2023, issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. You can subscribe and get online entry to a electronic version and then get pleasure from a 12 months of The Chronicle of the Horse and our way of life publication, Untacked. If you’re just following COTH online, you’re lacking so much wonderful exceptional content material. Just about every print issue of the Chronicle is full of in-depth opposition news, interesting characteristics, probing looks at troubles inside of the sporting activities of hunter/jumper, eventing and dressage, and gorgeous images.