The benefits of horse-riding for children are varied and many. If your child shows an interest and it is possible for them to do so, taking them for horse-riding lessons at a young age will open up myriad possibilities as they grow older.
Horse-riding is rewarding in so many ways it would be impossible to list them all, but the main benefits include:
-Learning a new skill that will last a lifetime
- Participating in a physical activity on a regular basis
- Meeting new people
- Learning about how to care for another creature – taking responsibility for another’s well being
- Gaining in confidence
-Improving co-ordination, balance and other motor skills
-Spending more time out of doors
Where to go
Although some schools will take pre-school children on, most prefer to wait until they are about five or six. Take some time to visit various schools in your area and observe a few lessons before committing your child to anything.
Horse-riding lessons are usually not that cheap, but most schools will let you pay on a weekly basis rather than committing to a term at a time. As your child gets older and develops more skills some stables will let them work caring for the horses part-time as payment for lessons.
Your child will probably be given a short amount of time to get to know the horse or pony they are to ride before they start, especially if they are very young. The horses and ponies used for beginners lessons and small children are selected for their placid natures and will be exceptionally well trained and used to a riding school situation.
Your child will be taught how to mount and dismount, what commands to use to make the horse walk and halt and how to guide the horse in the direction they want it to go.
Once they have mastered these basics they will progress to trotting, followed by cantering and when they are ready some low jumps, but these stages will take place only once the instructor is confident in the child’s ability to perform them.
Getting kitted out
The most important kit is of course that which promotes safety. Your chosen riding school should have a selection of riding hats for hire until you are confident your child wants to commit.