Before you even come close to riding a horse you must think about the essential skills you will need to take care of a horse, to go out riding on your own and to fully develop your child into an experienced, safe rider.
What comes first
Learning to tie, groom and lead a horse needs to be top priority when first learning how to ride. However, these can be learnt much earlier than actually physically riding a horse. Grooming a horse will not only build up your confidence around horses, but it will create a bond between you and the horse. This trust is important in a relationship of this kind.
A stable beginning
Starting to do barn chores can be a great stepping stone when you begin to ride a horse. You will also gain more experience around the stables as well as becoming more comfortable around the creatures. Many stables will be happy to have a volunteer to help muck in. In return they might even let you ride their horses eventually.
As you probably already know, horse riding is not one of those things that you can just get up one day and master. It takes time. It takes patience. But it also takes effort and control. You will have to do a lot of work before you are ready to start ride a horse.
Which is the right horse for you?
When starting out riding a horse you should start on an older horse. One that’s over 7 years old is recommended as they are more dependable, consistent and calmer through experience.
There are many different factors you should take into account when choosing a riding school to make sure you get a quality experience. Things to consider include:
● Surveying a wide selection of horses and ponies to find the right fit
● Choosing the right equipment. The wrong tools will only lead to a bad experience
● Choose established, reliable instructors. Those with a lot of knowledge built over years of being around horses is highly recommended.
Like learning anything new, you should try and watch at least one lesson first to get a feel of what it will be like when you go for your lessons.
It is always good to start learning anything at a young age because it becomes almost second nature.
If your child expresses an interest in learning then there is no harm in making the introductions at an early age. This feeds their enthusiasm and ability to make decisions on what they like or dislike.
Ideally the perfect age would be anywhere from 7 upwards. However, it does depend a lot on the child's personality.
Location, Location, Location
Along with the child's personality it also depends on the size of the branch and whether they have the appropriate equipment, horses and staff. "I would be very surprised to find any riding school teaching below the age of five or six," says Julian Marczak, chairman of the Association of British Riding Schools.
"Children don’t have the coordination before that, but, of course, you can put them on a horse or pony from a very early age so that they get the feeling for it. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how early you sit on a pony as long as you’ve got a hat on and have good supervision."
We've told you our opinion, now you tell us yours! What do you think is the perfect age to start horse riding?
Author bio: This blog was written by Adam Stevens on behalf of primaanimalhealth.co.uk. He loves writing about a range of different topics and hopes this blog proves useful when teaching children how to ride.