Many little girls go through a phase of being obsessed with horses. If they’re asking for riding lessons, or a horse of their own, it’s natural to feel a little nervous about letting your child be around these large animals. However, as well as being a fun hobby, learning to ride a horse can have some real benefits for your child.
- Riding is great for physical development. As well as building core strength from the position, your child will develop coordination, balance and muscular development. This builds a good base for fitness in later life.
- For some children, riding can help with mental skills too. Some children find that riding improves their cognitive abilities, learning, memory and problem solving. Riding takes concentration, teaching kids some important thinking skills.
- Caring for a horse takes responsibility. Even if they only have lessons, your child will need to learn to pay attention to the needs of the horse, teaching them to more sensitive to animals. If they help to care for the horse, all those decisions from feeding to choosing horse rugs will help build a sense of responsibility.
- Learning a complex skill like riding will boost a child’s confidence and self-assurance. As their skills develop and they begin to master riding, they’re sure to feel good about themselves and enjoy the satisfaction of taking on and conquering a challenge.
- Riding a horse is a great workout, without putting the pressure on children to exercise. They’ll be boosting their cardiovascular system without thinking about working out. Riding is also healthy for the mind, as it eases stress. If your child finds the pressures of school stressful, horse riding could be a great hobby to help them find some peace.
- Riding can really help to develop a child’s sense of self-discipline. Successful horse riding requires focus and concentration. If they decide to take part in riding as a sport, they will need to be disciplined in order to practice enough to compete. The hard work involved will teach focus and concentration, while having to work with the horse teaches patience.
- Horses are sensitive animals and can pick up on and even mirror the emotions of their rider. This means that as an equestrian, your child will need to learn good emotional control. To get the horse to trust them, they will need to overcome any nerves or uncertainty about riding, and display confidence to relax the horse. This is a great way to learn to find confidence in nervous situations.
- Horse riding can be very rewarding for shy children. If your child struggles to talk to people, they may find that befriending a horse is easier. As they learn to ride, they’ll be communicating with their instructor and the confidence of learning the skill may help to draw them out of their shell.
- Horse riding can have educational benefits too. Children are encouraged to count hoofbeats as they ride, boosting numeracy skills. Being around horses all means that they will be learning about animals and animal care. If they decide to pursue riding as a sport, they’ll have to learn good sportsmanship.
- Riding can help a child to build healthy ambitions. If they find they love riding, they may be inspired to pursue riding as a sport, giving them ambitions of perfecting their skills in order to compete. They may also find inspiration for future career options, such as becoming interested in owning stables, competing as a jockey or becoming a riding instructor themselves.
- Horse riding can build social skills. Your child will need to learn to communicate effectively with their instructor in order to make the most of their learning, which can help them to become more confident when dealing with adults, and will teach them to listen well. They’ll also be able to meet and make friends with other children who love horses, helping them to build social skills and boost the number of their friends.
- Children who ride will be able to spend more time outdoors than most children. Many modern children spend a lot of time inside, playing computer games or on their phones. Instead, get them outside in the fresh air, on the back of a horse.
Riding can be suitable for all ages, and is a great way for children to build important skills in a low pressure way. If they start young, they could find a life-long passion that they can continue to pursue for years to come. If you like horses too, this can be a shared passion you enjoy together, even in the years when parent-child relationships can be tense.