If you're ready to introduce your child - or a child you know - to horseback riding, we have some tips for you:
1. Consider the appropriate age. If your child is interested in riding horses and asks you about it, or if you want to introduce horseback riding, start considering the appropriate age to start. It all depends on a child's size and maturity, but most horseback riding instructors recommend that the child is at least 6 or 7 years old. In some cases, a younger child can ride a pony, especially assisted by an adult leader.
2. Start slow. If your child is too small or too young to get started, you can begin by watching some horse-related movies, watching horseback riding on television or reading some books. Get your child familiar with the terminology and with the idea that a horse is a large animal that needs to be respected and treated with care. Then start with some recreational riding - perhaps with an adult in tow. From there, you can decide on getting more serious about riding.
3. Consider the appropriate horse. There's no perfect horse for kids but a pony might be good for younger or smaller kids. Those breeds with calm temperaments, such as the American Quarter Horse, are good matches for kids as well. Every horse is different, though. Good trainers will know their horses and be able to recommend one that works well with kids.
4. Find a camp or school for lessons. In considering a riding school or camp, ensure that the instructors are appropriately certified or qualified, appropriate safety precautions are in place and the horses are well-treated. In addition, be sure that your child gets along well with the instructors.
5. Invest in a good helmet. A helmet is paramount for your child's safety. Choose one that fits your child's head correctly and is ASTM certified. Many times, you can rent a helmet from a stable or camp, but if your child wants to continue with the sport, getting your child their own helmet is a good idea.
6. Let the child lead the way. As with anything related to kids, horseback riding shouldn't be a forced activity. Let your child have a say in how much they want to horseback ride and how often. If you make it a chore, it probably won't be as much fun, and your child will be less likely to learn well.
7. Get the right gear. To succeed, kids need the right equipment. Invest in a good pair of kids' riding boots from the Mary's Tack and Feed collection. This will enable your child to grip the stirrups properly. A pair of long, soft socks is also a good idea (check out our Horseware Kids Softie Socks or our Pony Power Knee Socks for Kids in appealing colors).
You might also want to browse our kids' riding and casual apparel for a selection of sturdy jeans, vests, breeches, tights, jodhpurs and more. A good pair of riding pants should be made of sturdy material and fit snugly. Riding gloves are also helpful in gripping the reins and preventing blisters. Check out our Roeckl Kansas Kids Gloves to keep their hands protected from blisters.
Please feel free to contact us anytime with questions about kids' horseback riding gear or anything else horse-related. We love to help!