Learning to ride a horse is an activity that many children enjoy and benefit from. Horseback riding is not only a wonderful physical workout but also instills relationship skills and discipline. When starting out with horseback riding, safety is one of the first and most important lessons to learn. Supervise every step of the way, starting from the ground and working your way to horseback. Here are some tips to have a successful start with this great sport.
Start with the fundamentals of grooming and proper use of equipment by example. If the child is young, begin with a pony that is a more appropriate size. Allow the child to pet the pony, and begin teaching grooming skills. Make sure the child is comfortable being with the animal before going to the next step. Allow the kid to watch the pony as it is being tacked. Answer any concerns the child may have as well as reassuring that you are right there to guide them. When it comes time for the child to do things on their own, stay right by them while they try doing things with the horse so that they can be more at ease. Working with a smaller pony will prepare kids for horses later on, so it’s a good animal to start with.
One of the most important aspects of riding is safety training. You don’t want your child to become one of the millions of people who visit an emergency room every year due to an accidental injury. Teaching them how to be around a horse or pony safely is very important, because one bad incident may scare your child from ever riding or being comfortable around a horse for the rest of their life. Using safety equipment is also an important part of the training experience. Helmets and proper footwear are necessary for overall safety. These will help your child to be the most protected while they ride a horse.
Ready to Ride
Once the child is comfortable being around the pony or horse, it is time to mount. Allow the child to sit on the horse or pony before moving out. Have one person act as a spotter while another person is designated to lead. Be sure the child is comfortable, relaxed and balanced before starting so that they don’t fall off or spook the horse. Start at a slow walk with the spotter walking beside and holding on to the child’s waist. If this goes well, the child will gain confidence and be ready for the next step.
When you are around horses and ponies, safety is a big issue. Both you and your child want to have a positive experience. Do not push the child to progress too quickly. Instead, allow them to advance at their own pace. A seasoned mount will not react to hesitation on the part of the rider but may not tolerate excessive fear or acting out. Make sure this is a safe activity for all involved.