Help! My Kid Wants a Horse!

So you brought your child to the fair, festival, birthday party where they got to ride a pony.  Days later it’s all he/she talks about.  “It’s just a phase” you think and “it’ll be penguins or kitties next week.”  Before you know it your games turn into pony rides, drawings feature the four legged beasts, and every horse is pointed out when passing in a car (maybe even a little “neigh” out the window?).  You want to make your child happy but you’re not familiar with horses and maybe you’re even afraid of them.  

Where did this fascination come from?!

If the above scenario describes anything you’ve experienced then you’re not alone.  In this story my role was that of the little girl…my dad has always been (and still is) afraid of horses.  My mom enjoys looking at them and will even get on ranch horses for trail rides, but she is by no means a horse person.  

So what is a parent to do?

Educate Yourself!  

    • If you’ve made it this far you are clearly interested in taking the right steps toward the growth and safety of your child.  Horses can be very therapeutic and aid in the growth and development of character.  A couple of the great ways equines enrich us include controlling emotions and insecurities, strengthening muscles and developing balance, and developing an indescribable connection with the animals.  There are groups who help veterans with PTSD, people with disabilities, and even rehabbing prisoners all through working with horses.  In a recent article there have even been links to horseback riding dulling the symptoms of autism in some children.  

    • Despite the benefits, horses are still large unpredictable creatures and can pose a serious threat to people that are ill prepared.  Educating yourself and finding great mentors will help you navigate the farm life so that you and your child can enjoy horses as safely as possible.

Find Your Local 4-H Community

    • These groups frequently offer horse shows and seminars providing you with excellent guidance to the opportunities in your neighborhood.  This is a great way to meet some people in the business and learn from them.

Seek Out a Local Horse Farm

    • There are many types of horse farms; most are private but some may offer tours if you ask.  Look for retirement farms and sanctuaries are great places to look upon as they are more likely to offer you an educational tour/experience.

Visit Your Local Feed and Tack Store 

    • People at tack shops are often very knowledgeable.  They can point you in a good direction to reputable trainers and farms that offer lessons.  In addition use can use your trip to browse a few of the aisles.  Just be careful not to get yourself overwhelmed!  By seeing some of the products you’ll be able to familiaraze yourself with some names and terms often used.  It also opens your mind to questions that you never had thought of; 

“How is this used?”

“Do horses really need that?”

“How often does that happen?”

“Is it really this expensive?”

Sign Your Child Up For a Lesson

    • The lessons typically begin learning how to brush and tack up a horse.  Prepare yourself, mom and dad, you MIGHT be asked to help so follow along.  Some farms will brush and tack the horse for you but you’ll need to discuss that and it may become part of your paid lesson time.  

If you begin with these steps you will be in a great position to learn valuable information and make great connections.  

Have more questions? Not sure what/where your tack store is?  I’d love to hear from you so I can help you get the information you need!

What’s Next?

Continue your journey with the next articles in this series:

Meet Your New Instructor!

Beyond Riding Lessons; Taking the Next Step

Avoid Drama in Your Lease By Having This Conversation First

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