Ms. Shelley's Pony School - Horse Program for Young Children
Frequently Asked Questions 
1.  How old does my child have to be?
Children should be between 2.5 and 5 years old, although not every 2 year old is ready.  Children need to be able to sit and listen to a short lesson on ponies at the start of each class.  After the lesson, we will mostly play games and do hands-on activities with the pony.   
2.  Should I bring anything special?
You do not need to bring any equipment.  Just dress appropriately to be at a barn and expect to get a little dirty.  Children and parents should wear closed-toed shoes.  Dress warmly in the winter and lightly in the summer.  There is no heat or A/C.  The metal chairs do get cold in the winter and you are welcome to bring a blanket/pillow to place on your chair. 
3.  Do we need to buy a helmet or boots?
I have helmets available, although you are welcome to bring your own.  I do allow children to ride in a bike helmet.  Boots are also not a necessity for Pony School.  Once your child begins regular riding lessons, you will need to invest in an equestrian helmet and proper riding footwear.
4.  What happens when the weather is bad?
Pony School may be cancelled in cases of inclement weather (lightning, thunder, or heavy rain), inaccessibility (too mush snow/ice), or instructor illness/emergency.  In such cases, an additional class will be held on the same day/time at the end of the session.
5.  What if we know we will miss a class?
You are registering for 4 classes on specific dates.  You should check your schedule before you register.  One make-up class per session may be arranged,but is not guaranteed. 

6.  What if you have to cancel a class?

If I have to cancel a class due to instructor illness/emergency or weather, we will makeup the class on the Saturday following the end of the session.
7.  Can my child ride a bigger horse?
We purposefully use very small ponies for Pony School, so that the ponies are less intimidating to small children.  We only use one pony per class.  If your child wishes to ride a larger horse, a separate riding lesson would need to be arranged.
8.  Can I bring both of my small children?
Only if both children are registered and you are able to effectively supervise and manage the behavior of both children.  Keep in mind, you may need to walk with the pony while one child is riding, and that would leave the other child unsupervised while working on their craft.  If you think your children would be okay riding without you by their side, it may be an option to register both of your small children for the same session.
9.  Does my child have to ride the pony?
Children are NEVER forced to ride.  It is our hope that they will have the opportunity to slowly warm-up to the idea of riding by interacting with the pony from the ground and watching the other students ride.  The riding lesson will be tailored to your child's level of interest, participation, and comfort.  If your child has never been on a pony, they may simply pet and talk to the pony the first class, sit on the pony for a few seconds the second class, walk the pony halfway around the ring the third class, and so on.
10.  How long do the students ride?
Each child rides for approximately five minutes.  They will do a variety of activities on the pony within that time, building confidence, strength, and balance while also learning to communicate with and control the pony.  Students mainly walk and may eventually do a small amount of trotting.  The pony is always on a lead line with an instructor.
11.  How many sessions do students usually take?  Can my child stay in the program?
Your child can take as many sessions of Pony School as they like.  Every month will have a different learning theme and four unique lessons related to that theme.  In addition, a new craft and story will be presented every week.  The year-long curriculum starts again every January.  Lessons do gradually become more complex over the course of the year, but students are welcome to jump in anytime.  
12.  Do I need to re-register every month?
Yes.  For instance, if you are registered in January, you will not automatically have a spot in February.  You must re-register for each month.  Spots are first-come, first-served, so register as soon as you are sure you wish to continue.
13.  Can grandparents come and watch?
Sure!  However, seating is limited and some individuals may be forced to stand.
14.  Can we just come observe a class first?
Unfortunately, this does not usually go well.  If you are there with your child, your child will want to do everything the other children are doing with the pony and will not understand why they are not being allowed to do so.  I have found that it is impossible to simply observe a class, unless the adult is coming alone.  If you bring your child to a class, you will be asked to pay for the class.

15. Can I just put my child in private lessons?

Probably not.  I do teach half-hour private lessons, but only to children who have had at least 3 sessions of Pony School or are at least 4 years old.  If you are just wanting to get your 2 or 3 year old straight into private lessons, I will strongly suggest you enroll them in Pony School first.
16.  What if I still have questions?
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