At our stable, one of the most fulfilling experiences is watching a child learn how to ride a horse. Not long ago, horses were the preferred mode of transportation.
While this is largely seen as a recreational activity today, horses still occupy a prominent role in our society. Therefore, many parents want to introduce their kids to this fun activity.
At the same time, what is the right age at which a child can start horseback riding? If you are asking yourself the same question, take a look at some of the helpful information we have provided below!
Most children can start learning how to ride a horse around the age of six or seven; however, the exact answer depends on a few factors.
It Depends on the Horse, the Child, and the Maturity Level
How you decide to introduce children to horseback riding is going to have a strong influence on his or her growth, development, and approach to horses as an adult.
If you provide your child with a safe and fun experience, this can lead to a lifelong love of one of the most beautiful animals on Earth. On the other hand, if disaster strikes, your child might not want to go near horses again.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that the first equestrian experience is a positive one! There are a few reasons why we notice that children want to ride our horses when they come to visit us. These include:
- They saw a friend riding a horse, and they wanted to learn how to ride as well
- They saw horses running on TV and decided they wanted to try it as well
- They might live on a farm (or have a relative who lives on a farm) and be hooked on the idea of riding
No matter the reason, it is important for parents not to shy away from their child’s interest in horseback riding. Yes, it is possible that they might fall from the horse.
Heck, even I have fallen from horses numerous times, but I’m still fine! At the same time, it is important to start with safety first. This starts with doing the right homework.
Finding the Right Environment for Lessons
It is a good idea to take a look around and see what is available in the local area. If you are looking for a place to teach a child how to ride a horse, some of the tips include:
- Look at barns in the local area and see if they have instructors who can teach children how to ride a horse
- Look online to see if there are directories for some of the local barns, as they might have instructors present
- If there is a local tack store, visit them and see if they have any recommendations for lessons in the local area
Try to come up with a list of a few possible locations. Then, go and check them out in person. Be sure to visit them before booking any lessons.
Now, these are going to be barns, so don’t expect them to look super fancy. I know that we try to maintain a rustic feel at our stables because this provides for an authentic experience.
On the other hand, we also try to keep our barns clean and tidy. If you notice the barn is clean, this is a sign that they care about their horses and their visitors.
Take a look at the facility. Look for a fenced-in area. This is usually where the lessons are taught. If possible, watch some of the lessons take place.
Get a feel for the instructor and see if he or she has a good rapport with the students. If the instructor’s teaching style is a good fit for how your child communicates, then you might have found the right match.
If you aren’t entirely sure what to look for, observe:
- Does the instructor get along well with the other children?
- Do the children seem to get along well with each other?
- How does the instructor react if something goes wrong during the course of the lesson?
- Do all of the children wear a helmet when they get on the horse?
- Do the children appear to be happy when they mount up?
As the lessons proceed, take a look at how much time the instructor spends with each student. Horseback riding lessons can be expensive, and it is important for parents to know what they are paying for.
After watching a few of the lessons proceed, take a look at the stable. Look and see how many horses there are, whether they look happy and if they look well-nourished.
There should be a variety of horses at the stable. They should come in numerous ages and sizes. Larger kids will need bigger horses, while smaller kids can get away with smaller ponies.
Finally, talk to some of the parents at the stables. Ask them if they are happy with the progress of their children.
See what they have to say about the instructors who are present. If they provide positive reviews, this is a good sign!
Is Your Child Ready?
Once you have found a good environment in which your child can take lessons, it is time to talk to the instructor and have him, or she meet your child.
Most riding programs will let kids start taking lessons around the age they start school. Usually, this is around six of seven years of age.
There are some situations where stables might allow kids to ride a horse with their parents; however, these are not formal lessons and are usually just a simple horseback riding experience.
We provide both lessons and horseback riding experiences.
The instructor will talk to your child to gauge his or her maturity. While horseback riding is meant to be fun, safety always has to come first.
Therefore, the instructor will talk to your child to see if he or she understands that horseback riding can be dangerous. If your child is able to follow instructions, understand right from wrong, and treat the horse with respect, then your child will probably be accepted into the program.
This is a critical element of the lessons in our stable as well.
Watching the First Lesson Unfold
It is a good idea for parents to stick around and watch the first lesson. This is usually a private lesson with the instructor.
The instructor has to get to know your child and make sure that he or she is truly ready to take horseback riding lessons in addition to developing a strong relationship with your child.
There has to be a great deal of trust between the horse, the rider, and the instructor for the lessons to proceed appropriately.
You may want to think about purchasing a helmet for your child because this will fit his or her head the best; however, most stables will also have helmets that are provided.
During the first lesson, kids will learn how to approach a horse safely, how to lead a horse properly, and how to work around the horse safely.
Then, the instructor will talk about mounting, dismounting, and positioning. If your kid is older, then he or she will probably learn about grooming and tacking as well.
These are important concepts for taking care of a horse that we teach to many of our older riders.
Progressing with Horseback Riding Lessons
Once your child has had a few horseback riding lessons, the instructor will teach your child how to handle basic commands.
Some of the basic commands we teach include turning aids, stopping the horse, and working on exercises that teach balance or confidence. Once your child has some confidence on the horse, lessons will proceed to the arena.
That is how we conduct lessons in our stable. This allows your child to work on the skills that he or she has learned while picking up new ones.
After a while, your child will be moved to group lessons. Group lessons are important because kids push each other to learn more, do better, and follow in the footsteps of peers who might be ahead of them.
Kids learn from each other, and this makes group lessons important.
Kids can learn a lot from horseback riding lessons. They will learn compassion, patience, sportsmanship, and more.