SO….YOUR CHILD IS BEGGING FOR HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS, AS A PARENT, WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A RIDING FACILITY?
This is a question that all parents should ask when they have a child who is looking at horseback riding lessons. First, let me explain a little about riding.
Horseback riding is a physical activity, but it is an activity unlike any other. Like most sports, it improves fitness, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Like dancing, doubles tennis or pairs skating, riding requires physical skills and a partner, but in the case of riding, the partner is not just another individual, it is another individual of a different species. Horse back riding is a physical activity that requires skill, balance and coordination plus intellectual and theoretical understanding. Then, there is the emotional component that has to exist in order to build a genuine relationship that will develop into a true partnership.
Did you know that horse back riding provides children with self esteem as they gain competence as riders? It builds respect, responsibility, honesty, focus and follow-through – who wouldn’t want their children to have and live these values?
I would like to share with you some guidelines that you can you use in your journey to find the best riding facility and instructors to meet the needs of you and your child. For example, as in any physical activity, there are different levels to a sport. Any facility you choose should offer different levels of riding. As in school, you want to prepare your child to be able to attend University/College. This theory also applies to riding.
When a child has obtained the basics of riding and horsemanship, the rider becomes more educated, patient and develops a deeper understanding of their sport, allowing for the partnership between horse and rider to bloom…this partnership often sets the goals for a child. As a parent, are you prepared to help them achieve these goals as it will probably go beyond a weekly riding lesson?
Another aspect to look for in choosing your riding facility is Safety. The way in which a child is introduced to horses and riding may remain an influence well into his/her adult life. The best way to make sure that your child has a positive experience is to do plenty of homework first.
Seek out riding facilities that offer a lesson program and instructors that teach children.
Visit the riding facility before booking any lessons.
- It should be neat and tidy.
- It should have an indoor schooling arena or a fenced riding arena.
- There should be a variety of lesson horses, of all sizes, suitable for beginners.
- The horses should appear clean and in good health.
- The tack should be in good repair. Dirty, crusted tack should send up a warning flag!
Watch some lessons to get a feel for the instructor’s style.
- Does the instructor get on well with children?
- Does the instructor emphasize safety?
- Do the students wear helmets? It should be an industry standard helmet fitted to fit the child with an effective chinstrap that is fastened before mounting a horse.
- Are the students wearing long pants and boots with a heel?
- Ask other students how long they have been participating in the class to determine if they are being helped by the instructor to become more proficient riders.
The next step, and in my humble opinion, one that can make all the difference in your child’s experience with riding, is the caliber of your child’s instructor. The first few years are very important, as good instructors lay the foundations upon which all the rest of the rider’s training will be built. The advantage is always with the riders who have QUALITY instruction.
Beginners need really good instructors – competent, courteous, qualified teachers with good communication skills and a focus on safety. While watching the horse riding lesson, imagine yourself in the class and how you would feel under the instructor’s instruction. Do you feel good about his/her approach to instruction? Do you think that you would be comfortable with his/her demeanor?
I am convinced that horses give back far more than they cost in ways that are immeasurable and priceless. Simply put, horses are good for children.
For further information on the benefits of horse back riding, please contact us.