Most children have dreamed of owning a horse at some point in their lives. There is something magical about horses that make children want to own one. Children have been told of stories about knights and heroes on horses, bravely fighting for truth and honor. However, in life, introducing your child to horses will involve more than reading to them inspiring fairy tales. Your child will surely remember the first time he or she met a live horse.
Introducing children to horses has many benefits. Children learn empathy, they develop a sense of responsibility, and they might just discover a lifelong passion. Soon before you know it, your child will be looking for her own horse saddles and reigns.
Here are some steps that you can take to introduce your child to horses.
Take your child to the petting zoo.
The easiest and most enjoyable way to introduce your child to horses is to take them to a petting zoo. A petting zoo is an excellent opportunity for kids to socialize with animals. The petting zoo is the perfect place for your child to see actual donkeys and other farm animals he only sees in books.
The petting zoo is also the perfect opportunity to teach your child about the safety rules that he or she should remember when around animals. Remind them not to run around animals and not to be too loud so as not to distress them. They must approach the animals calmly and quietly. The earlier they understand these rules, the better.
Start with pony rides.
If your child is too young for riding lessons, a pony ride can be their initiation rite. Choose a reputable and trusted barn that offers pony rides, to ensure that the ponies and horses are well-trained and the tracks are well-maintained. A quiet and guided pony ride is an excellent way to give your child a pleasant and enjoyable riding experience.
The thing about pony rides is that the term doesn’t refer to the type of horse that you will ride. Ponying means leading a horse by a lead rope.
Find a great horse instructor.
If your child wishes to take riding lessons, finding a great horse instructor is a must. Most riding schools and instructors will take children as young as seven years old for riding lessons. Find a horse instructor who has experience teaching young kids. He or she must take the safety of his students seriously. Teaching horseriding to children has difficulties. Do not just settle for any horse instructor.
Finding the right riding school and instructor is like looking for the right academic school for your kids. It is your responsibility as a parent or guardian to research your prospective riding schools and instructor. Be sure to visit your potential schools first.
Here are the things that you should look for in a riding school and a riding instructor.
- Are the school and instructors certified?
- Are the horses trained?
- Are the horses healthy and well-taken care of?
- Does the school offer high-quality equipment?
- Does the school have well-maintained tracks and facilities?
- Does the school implement safety precautions?
- Have they taught children for a long time? What is the feedback of previous students?
Visit a stable.
If your child is too young for horseback riding or is too scared to take lessons yet, visit your nearby stable. Most stables accommodate children to meet the horses. It will help your child be comfortable around horses, so he won’t be scared when the right time comes.
Try easy family trail rides.
Family trail rides are great family bonding activities. If your child meets the minimum age requirement for riding horses, then it is an excellent opportunity to introduce him or her to horseback riding. Joining trail rides allows your child to socialize with trained horses, all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Support your child.
One of the best ways to encourage your child is to be supportive of him or her. Give him children’s books and magazines about horses. You can watch movies and shows about horses with your child. Answer your child’s questions about horses patiently. Make his experience with horses a positive one to nurture his or her interest.
Horseback riding can be a little expensive compared to other hobbies that your child might take. The cost of your child’s horseback riding lessons will also depend on the location, trainer’s qualifications, riding school facilities, and the quality of the horses. It is also prudent that your child has health insurance in case of any riding related accidents. If your child is in it for the long haul, investing in his or her own gear is a must.