Horse riding is adored by people of all ages thanks to its mix of exhilaration, exercise, and incredible trust between rider and horse. As well as adults, there are a number of reasons why children should learn to horse ride too, including physical and social benefits.
Provided it is undertaken with safety in mind, horse riding for children can become a life-long passion that brings wonderful rewards and delivers many important lessons along the way.
Riding a pony is often physically demanding and a great form of exercise. In fact, 60 minutes of horse riding can burn a similar number of calories as a 30 minute jog or bike ride, although naturally this will vary according to horse riding style and speed.
Even when the horse is moving fairly slowly, the rider needs to respond to the animal’s movements, which means constantly trying to retain balance through contracting and relaxing muscles especially the pelvic and postural muscle groups. When the horse trots then more muscles will be used including quadriceps and hamstrings, leading to improved muscle conditioning. You need good balance to horse ride and to achieve this you need good posture. The sport not only provides a workout but boosts posture and hand-eye coordination.
Riding a horse goes hand-in-hand with being outdoors and enjoying fresh air, which in turn promotes a sense of wellbeing for the rider. Children often find that horse riding is a great way to reduce stress and feel invigorated.
The trust that forms and develops between pony and rider is immensely rewarding for children.
Horses are big animals and the rider needs to be in control when riding. When a child learns to ride, there are many challenges to face including mastering the animal and getting him to respond to your commands – and accomplishing this is a real confidence booster for kids.
Horse riding schools are social settings and it’s likely your child will make new friends through this hobby. This may be through meeting at the stables or on pony treks with others, for example.
In addition to the fun aspect of riding a horse, there is a great deal of hard work involved too. By taking care of the horse, including cleaning out his stables and feeding him, children learn about responsibility and the importance of looking after animals.
Try before you buy
While horse riding can be an expensive pastime, it’s relatively inexpensive for children to try the sport and decide whether it’s for them. Before you buy the necessary equipment for riding, your child can wear clothing such as stretchy leggings, low-heeled boots and fitted jumpers and jackets, and hire a hard hat and body protectors from the riding school. And only when your child decides horse riding is for them do you need to invest in the right gear – as with horse riding itself, the cost can be turned to a benefit also, by encouraging your child to save up for lessons using pocket money or a part-time job when old enough.
Ashurst Farm sell a wide range of horse supplies including horse bandages