9 Reasons Your Kid Should Get Into Horses0
Let me preface this by saying that it is not possible for each and every kid to own a horse. Horses are expensive and many kids grow up in the city where access to horses is not easy. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way and the benefits are outstanding. A few months ago, a study commissioned by the German Equestrian Federation found that riders were generally more determined, enthusiastic and balanced than those people that did not ride (http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2016/03/03/horse-riders-right-stuff-german-study/#axzz434htY1qG). Those of us who grew up around horses didn’t need a study to tell us this but here are some reasons why horses help kids develop into better adults:
In today’s society where childhood obesity is at an all-time high and kids spend more time on phones or computers, they need every chance they get to get active. Whether they’re mucking stalls, grooming or riding, your kid will be moving (and getting outside in the fresh air at the same time).
As your child moves up from grooming to riding to training, the confidence is sure to follow. Riding and training a horse gives children tangible goals to achieve, and they will learn that these things take effort and patience.
Horses require a lot of care, from feeding and mucking, to worming, shots, farrier work and exercise. Not only does this require effort and time management, it also requires money management. Does your child have enough saved away for those lessons or new tack? Along these lines, horses also teach your kid to care for things. Tack needs to be cleaned routinely so it lasts longer. Make packing lists so you don’t forget anything and have to spend more money to buy a replacement at a show.
Adolescence can be tough. Knowing they have a friend in their horse that they can go talk to or go for a ride to give them time to think is a great mental health tool. Barn friends are always there as well and the memories they make with them will last a life time. Which will your child remember more: that day in front of the tv or galloping along the trail with their friends?
As stated many times before, horses are a lot of work. There is more to it than just hopping on to ride. Many barn owners and trainers are more than happy to teach the barn rats how to properly do things around the barn. If your child is willing to work hard, they can earn those extra lessons or spending money. Barn jobs are always in demand as it is difficult to find good help who is willing to work.
Horseback riding is as much a physical effort as it is a mental one. Horses are like people in that they all learn in different ways. It takes thought to figure out how your horse best learns. Horses are also known for presenting many challenges (why won’t they walk over the tarp even though they did it yesterday?) and the problem solving skills your kid learns here can be applied in other aspects of their life.
Your child will have to learn that the horse can’t just be put away in the garage like a bicycle and only pulled out when wanted. The horse needs grooming, feeding, care and exercise. Your kid will have to learn what to put first: sleeping in or going to the barn to feed the horses? Spending that extra hour on the computer or going to brush their pony?
Compassion and respect
Caring for and building the trust of such a large creature is a very humbling experience. Patience, humility and sympathy are all needed to be a good horseman. Not only will they make you a better rider, but a better human being as well.
Horse people are a tough bunch, and you have to be to be in this sport. If you fall off, you get back on. If you fail, you keep trying until you succeed. Kids will learn that you can’t just give up when it gets tough; they learn to push past the thought of failure and when they succeed, it’s a great feeling. Also, teaching kids how to win and how to lose will make them both better athletes and better people.