Horse riding can be a rewarding hobby for children of all ages
Horse riding can be a rewarding hobby for children of all ages, and can help equip them with new skills and a positive attitude, while teaching them a great sport! Many children express an interest in learning to ride, with over one million already doing so in the UK. By enrolling your child for horse riding lessons you are providing them with a good source of physical exercise and fresh air, as well as whole host of other benefits.
Being part of a class for horse riding can help children to learn to socialise and can facilitate the building of new social circles and meeting new friends. While it can be difficult for children to find allies in a playground full of different interests, being part of a class where every child has at least one large interest in common, doors are easily opened for new friendships to form. Thanks to the shared goals horse riding gives to all children, as well as its multitude of exercises that are performed as a class, group or in pairs, the sport gives kids a real chance to build camaraderie between themselves and the horses. Similarly, horse riding is also great for helping children develop their team working skills, with exercises often revolving around taking turns, and being aware of everyone else in a lesson to ensure safety and success for all.
Horse riding promotes the development of good balance and coordination, while working on overall physical fitness. Although it may look easy, riding requires the use of many muscles, from those at the core, which are constantly at work holding the rider in balance, to the legs and seat which communicate with the horse throughout the ride. After a few lessons, your child may come to realise riding might not be as easy as they thought, though they will likely not mind the workout given that lessons, especially for beginners, usually put a big focus on having fun and building confidence. The first few lessons typically revolve around getting to know the horses and teaching the very basics of riding. These include how to mount and dismount, how to sit on the horse and hold the reins, how to steer the horse left and right, and how to move off or stop. Emphasis should be placed on safety, and developing a solid foundation on which children can build. Lessons should be tailored to each child’s needs and to suit their level of confidence.
Typically, an instructor will be close to the rider, supporting them, sometimes on a lead rein, while they find their balance and confidence. Horses are usually selected to suit the rider, and a smaller child will usually have a smaller pony on which to build their confidence (though sometimes this isn’t the case, and a bigger horse can be just as good a gentle guide). Some lessons will also include an element of horse care and horsemanship. This part too is important, as although your child isn’t riding, they are learning key lessons about responsibility, and how to properly and safely handle the horses.
Overall, horse riding lessons offer a multitude of benefits to children far beyond being a great form of physical exercise. They should be fun and constructive, with lots of encouragement and a varied approach that helps the child get to know the horses and grow in confidence as they progress.