If the success of the British equestrian team at the recent Olympic games has inspired someone in your family to take their horse riding to the next level, there has never been a better time to get started. Even the Olympic team started off with small local events or regional competitions, and to get started in competing you don’t really need any special equipment other than a horse.
One of the very best organisations for training the stars of tomorrow is the Pony Club. Pony Club is for any child with an interest in riding or horses, and can take young people up to the age of 21. As well as being a club which gives kids the chance to meet others with the same interests and abilities as them, the Pony Club offers instruction in the basics of riding and competing. There are annual local and regional competitions and this is the ideal way of introducing children to competing in a low-level, stress free environment. Many of the UK’s best riders have risen through the Pony Club ranks and they have an established history of nurturing the stars of the future.
Riding competitively is not a cheap pastime and for young people who are getting into their competitive riding in a serious way every weekend will be taken up with travelling to competitions around the country. Horseboxes, riding clothes, boots, hats, horse insurance, vet fees and sundries such as horse cooling equipment do not come cheaply and this puts many families off getting into riding in the first place. There are various schemes allowing children to share horses with others of a similar age and ability, or to provide financial assistance to young people who are showing a great deal of future promise. For true stars of the future, deals can be negotiated with suppliers of horse blankets, horse cooling supplies, food or riding clothes to get free equipment in return for some advertising or publicity for the brand concerned.
All competitions, whether small or large, will have prize money and rosettes on offer for winners. In very small competitions the prizes are never more than a few pounds, but in the regional and national competitions the prizes can run into hundreds of pounds. It is unlikely that even the best competitor will win enough to cover their costs of running the horse and getting to the competitions.
For complete beginners to the riding scene, the best way to get started is to take some lessons at a local stables. If the bug bites and the child shows real aptitude and interest in riding, then discussions can be had at a later date about how best to go about owning or stabling a horse. Most stables will allow riders to hire or borrow all the equipment they require for their initial lessons, meaning that children can try before they buy and that parents are not out of pocket if the child decides after a few months that competitive riding is not for them.
The Equine Warehouse offer a great range of horse cooling products which help your mount to keep cool when the going gets tough.