By Sarah Jones.
Many children go through a phase of wanting to ride horses but some parents might be reluctant, fearing the potential risks of putting their child in contact with such a large animal. However, there are many reasons why children benefit from horse riding.
Learning to ride and making connections with an animal can all create amazing life experiences for your children, giving them a great sense of friendship and also responsibility as they learn to take care of their horse or pony.
There are also many reasons why getting your child into the saddle can actually benefit their learning and development. Horse riding can help to generate a number of social skills, mental agility and physical skills which can help them in future life.
We spoke to the team of Equisupermarket.co.uk and they shared with us some insights on why horseback riding helps children to develop:
1. Improved health and fitness
Riding a horse or pony is great exercise for children and can help to get them off the sofa and out into the fresh air. Horse riding keeps them active and outdoors, as well as enjoying a physical activity which they can do with their friends.
Riding itself works many muscles and is great exercise, requiring strength, stamina and co-ordination making it an ideal physical activity to support improved health and fitness for children of all ages.
It can also help to reduce anxiety and as children bond with their horse or pony it can have beneficial psychological effects as well – horse riding is often used as therapy for children with disabilities.
2. Life lessons
As children get into the equestrian world they learn lessons which of great value in other areas of life such as falling off and starting again, dealing with fear, learning empathy for an animal, perseverance, hard work and rewards – all of which will serve them in the future.
They can also learn patience and the value of friendship and hard work as well as a healthy respect for animals and how to behave around them. Horse riding requires patience and determination to succeed and if they go on to compete in events they will be learning a whole new set of skills around team work and success.
3. Improved social skills
Joining a pony club or attending group riding lessons means your child will meet new friends outside of school and can learn valuable social skills and meet people from all walks of life. As well as making new friends they will get to experience the loyal bonds of working and dealing with horses.
Having a set of friends outside of school can be very beneficial, particularly if your child is experiencing any problems or issues – being part of something outside of school can open up a whole new world for them.
4. Boost to their confidence
Riding and caring for a horse can be a real boost to a child’s confidence as they learn new skills, receive praise and experience the pure enjoyment of looking after their new four-legged friend.
Teaching them to ride can help develop a lifelong passion for horses and learning how to care for them, groom them and muck them out can improve their confidence in dealing with such large animals.
Riding can help children of all ages and abilities and that bond and interaction with their pony can be an amazing and loyal friendship which can also boost their confidence in social situations.
5. Teaching your child to take responsibility
Riding and caring for a horse is a great way to teach your child responsibility because looking after a pony is hard work. Children learn skills including mucking out and grooming and feeding, as well as what to look out for in their pony’s behaviour and health.
All of these things help to teach them a wide range of skills and responsibilities. It also helps children to understand how to put others before themselves and how to be kind and compassionate towards animals. It helps them to learn respect and discipline and how to have empathy with an animal.
Horseback riding is an enjoyable pastime for children on the surface and just going pony trekking once in a while can be great fun. But actually learning to ride and becoming part of a riding community and involved in the care and wellbeing of a horse can have a great positive impact on a child’s development.
Being part of a horse-riding group can help to boost confidence, increase social skills and teach a child really important life lessons, all while looking after and interacting with wonderful animals.
If your child wants to start horse riding or get involved with horses then these are just five of the key reasons to encourage them to do so – there are many more out there.