Benefits for Kids
When you introduce your child to horses and horseback riding, you are opening the door to a world of opportunity with many potential lifetime benefits:
- Riding provides enjoyable, healthy exercise. Time in the saddle—as well as time spent grooming horses, cleaning stalls, toting tack, etc.—not only burns calories, but improves muscle tone, balance and coordination.
- It’s a well-known fact that horses are good for one’s mental well-being. Grooming and riding them can provide a welcome escape from school work, relieve stress and help promote mindfulness, intentionality and emotional growth. “Horse time” can even bring special-needs or shy children out of their “shells.”
- Working with horses teaches responsibility, selflessness and compassion. A youngster will quickly learn that horses are not machines, but creatures with feelings that need daily care, exercise and routine. Putting the animal’s needs first is an important early lesson.
- Discipline and patience are essential around horses. Riding provides the opportunity for young people to not only develop these important life skills, but to set incremental goals and work toward those goals, keeping in mind that progress often takes time.
- Nothing teaches teamwork like a relationship with a horse, whether on the ground or in the saddle. Child and animal must learn to depend on and trust each other in order to progress. The concept of teamwork can also extend to riding camps and lesson barns, where friendships with other young riders can be forged and mutual support encouraged.
- Riding builds confidence. We can’t emphasize this enough! But to ensure a positive direction, it’s important to build a safe foundation with good instruction from the start.
So when your child expresses an interest in riding and seems serious about it, consider the payoff!