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DEAR DANA: I have a grandmother’s dilemma —  I am thinking of sharing my retired reiner with my 7-yr-old granddaughter, who has been taking English lessons.  What problems could arise from this?
–Carolyn Read, San Marcos, Calif.

DEAR CAROLYN: My first thought is that the problem you may encounter is that she will probably fall in love with reining!  I can speak from personal experience because I have two daughters who both have ridden many different events.  I think it made them better riders.

My older daughter rode English and jumped at the age of your granddaughter before she started showing in the reining at the age of 8.  (She placed in the Top 10 at the Quarter Horse Congress at that age.)  She also showed in Western Pleasure, Trail and Horsemanship.  What I had to teach her was to adjust her seat and riding for each style.  I realize English style of riding is different from western, but what I would do is (1) identify the different styles of riding for her and (2) give her key words to help her to switch from one to the other.

For example, what I would say to Brook is “OK, Brook, use your pleasure seat” or “Brook switch to your English seat or your horsemanship seat”.  In her young mind, it helped her to have identifying names for her body position.  My younger daughter, Bree, has ridden primarily reining and western pleasure. 

I had a problem for awhile in that she would push her western pleasure horse forward with her seat.  I would have to tell her to soften in her seat and slow down her rhythm.

Horses truly do respond to the feel of the rider’s seat. Traditionally, an English seat is a more “forward seat” than a western seat.  I teach my riders to sit a western pleasure horse differently than a reining horse, but I can tell you from experience that you can teach your granddaughter to reposition herself and her motion through her seat to fit each style of riding.

I also recommend you talk to her English instructor — she should be able to help with pointers and key words for your granddaughter.  I would be glad to help also!
I hope that helps. Good Luck to you!


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