Has your child asked about riding horses?
Many children are eager to ride a horse but parents are often not as keen because of the potential hazards associated with allowing their little ones to come into contact with such large animals.
Riding allows a child to make a close connection with an animal and provides an exceptional life experience allowing the child to form a relationship and to accept responsibility for the love and care of a pony or horse. In addition, riding and caring for a horse can assist with many aspects of learning and development.
Not only does the activity promote physical health and skills but also assists in the development of social skills and improves mental agility that will benefit them well into the future.
Here are 5 ways in which horseback riding can benefit your child’s development.
1. Physical And Mental Health And Fitness
Physical activity is critical to optimal child development and horse riding offers a unique, challenging and fun means of exercise in the great outdoors that they can do with friends.
Professional massage therapists explain that riding works just about all the different muscle groups and builds strength, stamina as well as better coordination to promote better physical health and fitness.
The bond that develops between the horse and the child can also have huge psychological benefits helping reduce anxiety and cope better emotionally. Horse riding is therefore used as a therapeutic tool for disabled children and can provide the same benefits to children who are mentally and physically able.
2. Life Experiences
The best way to learn important life lessons is through experience.
Falling off and getting back on the horse teaches children perseverance, how to deal with fear, developing empathy for the horse and that hard work produces success and rewards. These are valuable life lessons which will serve them well into their future.
It also teaches them to have a healthy respect for all living creatures and that patience and determination is key to achieving success. Dedicated children who go on to competing in horse riding events will learn to work as a team and a variety of additional skills.
3. Enhanced Social Skills
Horse riding is not just about the bond that develops between horse and child but also about the social interaction that comes with joining a club or riding lessons for groups.
It provides the opportunity to meet and interact with others from different walks of life outside of school and their usual social environment allowing them to form friendships based on a mutual love and understanding of horses.
Holistic health experts Shenko Vitality note that “children who are having problems at school, especially of a social nature, can benefit greatly from finding friends in a different setting. A new environment can open up a whole new set of opportunities to form relationships.”
4. Confidence And Self-Esteem
The ability to ride and control a big horse can give a child a huge confidence boost and improve their self-esteem. Every little success, the praise they receive for achievements and the experience itself can be incredibly rewarding.
Riding can establish a lifelong passion for horses from simply being in close contact with the animals to grooming and learning about the care that the horse needs. Animal chiropractor Keith Maitland notes that the strong bond that is created between horse and rider can also provide them with a sense of belonging which will also assist in increasing confidence in other social interactions. If they can be friends with such a big animal, there is less reason to fear other relationships.
There is a great amount of responsibility involved with riding and the care of a horse and this will be passed on to a child.
This sense of responsibility is often learned unknowingly though the child wants to provide for the basic needs of the horse such as feeding, grooming and mucking as well as learning to pay attention to the behaviour and health of the horse or pony.
It teaches a child to put the needs of the horse and therefore others before their own and develops compassion and empathy. They will learn the importance of discipline, respect and a range of additional skills in a caring and nurturing way.
On the surface, horse riding may simply seem like an enjoyable activity but there are so many more benefits and learning opportunities too.
While the fun aspect of riding may be most attractive for a child, they may also be enticed by the opportunity to become part of a community, making new friends or the care of the horses – all the while benefiting from the positive impact on their physical, mental and psychological well being.
If your child shows an interest in horse riding, encourage them and keep in mind that they will learn important life lessons, experience a boost in confidence, improve social skills and develop a great sense of responsibility by being around these amazing animals.
Reap the rewards of a happier, healthier child and go riding!
Are you ready to introduce your child to horse riding lessons? Find out everything you need to know about kids horse lessons right here!
Written by: Tim Frank Anderson