A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way with Horses and Kids

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way with Horses and Kids | SLO Horse News

Our horses, just like our kids, need our encouragement. The most effective horseback rider knows when to encourage, when to support and when to back off. Horses respond well to quiet, subtle yet clear, strong and focused leadership. Kids operate in a similar manner.

The encouragement language for a horse can be one of the following or a combination of:  a firm quiet leg, a steady supportive contact with the bit, and long stokes of the neck while leading or from the saddle, all combined with quiet verbal and body language around the horse. This is especially crucial in the face of something spooky, or scary, or big and bold in the horse’s eye. Likewise, encouraging words spoken to a child along with your steady presence, can send him on when he’s faced with doubt or fear or when trying something completely new.

Encouragement Goes A Long Way with Horses and Kids

A young boy found encouragement through connecting with a horse, trying something new and realizing he actually had something in common with the horse. Read on to get his full story.


After All, He’s A Boy

Shasta and I had just returned with a family where two young girls rode up with me in the driver’s seat. The girls displayed their pretty freshly-painted nails. They felt so grown-up!

After saying Thank You and Goodbye, I was approached by another family interested in a ride. I helped the family get situated in the carriage and then turned to get up into the driver’s seat. Danny was already sitting up there. The eldest son had climbed into the driver’s seat and as I climbed aboard he caught my eye and said, “Is it OK for me to sit up here?”

“Sure!” I exclaimed, “We’ll have some fun.”

Danny and his family were camping in Pismo for the week. His grandmother lives in the area so they were all out enjoying Farmer’s Market in downtown San Luis Obispo. As we rode along Danny asked lots of questions about Shasta. He found out they were the same age, 9 years. Turning down Buchon Street I invited Danny to take the reins and try driving the carriage.

“Sure!” he said as his eyes lit up while I handed the reins over to him and explained how to steer. Danny sat up so straight, tall and proud. He kept turning around to his parents saying, “Look, I’m driving the carriage!” They didn’t seem too impressed. I continued to coach him.

“Gee,” he said, “I don’t even know what I am doing and you keep complimenting me!”

“Well, you’re doing a great job!” I answered. Actually I had a feeling he didn’t get a lot of encouragement at home yet recognized he could really fly with a little bit of encouragement. Danny continued to drive Shasta down Pacific Street towards Broad.

“Does Shasta ever misbehave?” Danny asked.

I smile and answered, “Once-in-awhile he needs some correction, because he is thinking of other things, but he’s basically well-behaved.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s to be expected, after all he’s a boy,” explained Danny, with a I-don’t-even-know-I’m-cute smile on his face.

We returned to Broad and Higuera Streets and Danny jumped down with so much pride in himself. He came over to me and gave me a big, strong “Thank-you” handshake.

Yes, after all, he is a boy.


This is the full story found in the e-book, Carriage Capers – Magic Moments Leave Marks on our Hearts – Stories of a Horse Carriage Driver in San Luis Obispo County by Sharon J. Jantzen. Get this story and eight more Carriage Capers delivered to your in-box by clicking this link: Carriage Capers


Step away from the chaos of life. Enjoy excerpts of actual moments and quotes from people interacting with a carriage driver and horse riding down the streets of San Luis Obipso. To keep these stories at your fingertips you can get this FREE Hot Sheet which will direct you to a few Carriage Caper stories. We’ll continue to add carriage driving stories to our website. You can stay up-to-date by becoming a SLO Horse News herd member. Get your Carriage Capers Hot Sheet here >.

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Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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