Benefits of horse riding for children
Is your child passionate about horses and begging you for riding lessons? Are you clueless about how to start or, more importantly, do you know exactly what your child is going to get out of it besides some quality time with a pony named Magic, Rupert or some other cutesy name? It’s a fair question. Read on to find the answer…
There’s no controlled study that rigorously demonstrates the benefits of children learning to ride. However anecdotal evidence suggests that there are more than a few benefits – and some may surprise you!
Riding is a natural form of exercise for children without them even realising it! Plus it’s a way to get them off the sofa, away from their computers etc. in to the great outdoors. It also develops balance and strengthens muscles at the same time. Also it requires far more coordination than most people realise. So children develop the ability to coordinate parts of their body with each other, i.e. their hands, legs, seat, and torso
One of the first things that a young rider learns is to act confidently in the face of fear and uncertainty. This is because if the rider appears scared of something, so will the horse. Horses are very sensitive to the emotions of their riders and will often mirror those emotions.
Riding is a brilliant way to bring shy children out of their shells. Children who won’t say boo to a goose often open up to a pony. Think about it…ponies never judge or bully, instead they can seem especially in tune with a rider’s troubles, which is why they are used in helping transform difficult teenagers and are brilliant for disabled riders.
Children develop social skills, such as consideration, through meeting other children from different schools and backgrounds, as well as the adult volunteers and instructors.
The educational benefits are great for younger children. They are encouraged to count the ears and legs of the pony, the pony's hoof-beats and their place in the ride. Also they learn the alphabet from the letters in the school or 'manege' and key words relating to riding. Older children often have the opportunity to compete in competitions, which require learning and remembering a complicated set of sequential movements for dressage or a course of jumps for Showjumping.
Riding a pony teaches young people that things don’t always go their way. Ponies don’t always do as they are told and are good for teaching negotiation skills. Children learn the difference between ‘asking’ and ‘telling’ and, more importantly, when to use each.
Developing all of the skills above are essential for growth as not only a rider but also as a human being. Crucially they can also be applied outside the world of horses. Your child will think it’s just all great fun, and it is, but she will be learning skills that will help her succeed for a lifetime.
Did you find this article interesting?
Why not read our blog post about the best type of horse riding clothing to buy for your child?