Horses are lots of fun, and if you have any experience with them at all then you know, rather expensive! So, why should your kids ride horses? While lessons and riding are costly and can require a large time commitment, its worth the investment!
Not only are horses sweet, gentle giants with a lot of love to give, they can teach your child crucial life skills that will help them be more successful in life! The benefits of bonding with and caring for horses are infinite, but this article sums them up!
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Learning to care for any animal and to have to think about their needs will teach a child responsibility. Not only that, horses are sensitive to their environment.
Managing Multiple Tasks
Ever felt like you have too many responsibilities to juggle at work or in life?
Try getting a 1,000+ pound animal to do what you want, without the ability to speak our language. Now at the same time, imagine keeping your balance, maintaining the correct position and being mindful of other traffic in the arena or at high speeds.
Riding teaches us how to manage competing priorities and to stay safe while doing it!
If there is one thing that can teach your child how to be empathetic and mindful of another’s feelings, it’s bonding with a horse! As your child learns how to groom and tack up during their lessons, and enjoy riding they will naturally start to care about and bond with the horse.
Horses are great listeners and many kids find great comfort and friendship in their equine partners. And thus, they learn to think about others’ feelings and not just their own.
This may be the most important reason kids need horses in their lives!
Hard Work & Work Ethic
Whether its cleaning manure out of paddocks, struggling with a hose in winter or learning how to saddle your own horse. Horse’s are a lot of work.
The work is physically difficult at times, training horses is both physically and mentally tough. But, no matter how hard you work, or how many times you push yourself past exhaustion, the drive to keep going never fails. And, in my experience, I’ve rarely ever heard a kid complain. Most of the time they love horses so much they’re happy to put in the work.
The hard work that goes into learning about and caring for horses, even for those who just ride in their weekly lesson creates kids who have unbridled strength and determination.
Balance & Exercise
Horseback riding is great exercise!
If you’re looking for a way to get your heart rate up while also having fun, horseback riding may be for you!
Additionally, it takes a significant amount of balance and coordination to ride horses well. It takes a lot of practice and repetition to gain the body control to become a great rider.
Perform and Think Under Pressure
Riding teaches kids how to perform and think under pressure whether in a competitive environment or emergency situation.
Learning to manage the feeling of panic and put it aside while remaining calm and rational in order to make good decisions or execute a task is be the best skill I’ve ever learned from being around horses.
Kids who ride and learn to care for horses will undoubtedly be met with high pressure situations. These life experiences will be invaluable to them!
Building Confidence & Self Esteem
Horses will build your child’s self esteem and confidence exponentially. The feeling of achievement when they learn a new skill or master a skill they’ve been working towards will instill a firm “I can do it” attitude.
The more your child accomplishes with horses the more they will realize how capable they are. And he or she will become unstoppable!
Bravery & Independence
As kids begin to build their confidence, they will become more independent. As they overcome small challenges they start to become braver. As we continue to learn new skills and become more balanced and confident, things like jumping start to seem less intimidating.
Plus, these small wins start to add up and can then be translated into other aspects of life. If a child can overcome fear, nerves, anxiety around a 1000 lb animal, they can likely overcome much more!
The Ability To Take Feedback and Constructive Criticism
As with any sport, your coach or riding instructor will provide honest and constructive feedback.
Being receptive to feedback will help you grow and improve. Learning to take feedback and listen to it and learn without becoming defensive or insulted is a invaluable skill in the real world.
And, sometimes the feedback comes straight from the horse. Usually, when something isn’t working, the answer is that we need to do it better.
Horses teach us self reflection and to take ownership of our actions and be accountable for our own success.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
Learning to communicate with an animal who cannot speak our language can teach us how to find other ways to communicate. It teaches kids the importance of non-verbal queues and reading body language.
Secondly, kids learn about communicating clearly and effectively. They learn not to be wishy-washy and to say what they mean.
Unfortunately, horses are anything but straight forward.
While this may be challenging and frustrating at times it helps foster critical thinking skills. Things don’t always go as planned, so riders need to be prepared and able to think on their feet and find new solutions.
I’ve run into many situations throughout my history with horses, for example, a horse that won’t cross water on a trail ride, or a horse that won’t load into a trailer. All of which were great learning experiences.
If instant gratification is your thing, horses will teach you to slow down and appreciate incremental progress. With horses, progress can be and usually is, slow.
Progress takes time and repetition. A lot of time. A lot of repetition.
Thoughtfulness and Decision Making
As a kid, horses helped me to learn not to be so impulsive and to think before acting.
While the goal is not to over analyze a situation to the point where we miss the opportunity to take action. Its important to think about the outcome before making a decision. Horses are not only large but are also prey animals which means that wrong decision could become dangerous.
Leadership and Team Work
Riding and working with horses successfully boils down to getting the horse to follow our lead. Since horses are prey animals, they may not always make the right decision on their own. And, its up to us as equestrians to help by giving them direction.
As an added bonus, bullying really doesn’t work, so kids learn how to lead without just being bossy. Leadership is about the earning the horse’s respect, instilling confidence in them and then working together to achieve goals.
Kids who ride learn how to be good teammates with their peers in the barn and their horses!
Attention to Detail
Not only is attention to detail one of the many keys to success in school and career, it can also prevent accidents and injuries to both horse and rider.
Here are a few examples; noticing that a piece of leather on your tack is worn to the point that it may break during a ride.
Checking to ensure all of the tack and equipment is adjusted correctly.
Paying attention to signs of injury or lameness, swelling.
Setting Goals and Not Giving Up
Patience and perseverance are the name of the game. Mix them up with a dose of passion and a furry friend and your kid will be setting and exceeding their goals in no time!
Take my daughter for example, at five years old she can’t get enough of the horses and she is a prime example of why kids should ride horses.
Whether inside or outside of the barn she is always excitedly talking about riding and that she wants to achieve. She wants to learn to canter independently so she can learn to gallop and jump. She knows what she needs to work on to become a stronger rider. And, she’s motivated by the endless possibilities for fun with her horse so she practices. She works on improving without being coaxed or pushed by anyone else. Some days are hard, but she doesn’t give up.
Horses have taught my daughter that if you want something badly enough and you’re willing to work for it, you will have success!
Kids Should Take A Break from Technology and Ride Horses Instead
In today’s world of constantly being glued to our phones and posing for social media, sometimes we forget to just enjoy living life.
Want to get your kid some fresh air and time to clear their head and get away from the digital world? Remember the good old days of riding your bike and playing outside until the sun went down?
Then horseback riding is for you and your kids! Not only will your kids get moving and get fresh air, horses force us to live in the moment and be present!
Now that you’re fully versed on all the benefits of riding, you may be thinking, how can I get started? Check out this post on how to Find A Riding Instructor that suits your needs in your area.
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