We can probably all agree that it is healthy for children to be surrounded by animals – and horses is no exception. In the company of a horse or a pony, children experience to have friend, who does not comment on who they are or how they look. Horses teach children to take responsibility, to understand body language and feel empathy. They can give memories for life and be indispensable support during tough times in life.
You can never forget that horses are huge and strong animals driven by instincts you must respect. So how are you going to handle it if your child loves horses and asks if he can start riding or even wish for his own pony? How do you prepare your child for a life surrounded by horses, and when is she ready for it?
Go visit a horse
In general, you cannot introduce a child to the life with horses too early. It is only a question of how to do it. You do not have to sit on a horse to learn what it is all about. If you have a horse or know someone who has, then it is a good idea to go visit it. Let the child touch, smell and listen to the horse. Most horses will love being touched on the muzzle and having some extra treats.
It is also useful for the child that you together talk about the horse you are visiting. What does it eat? Why is it in a stable or outside in the field? Who take care of it? The answer for these questions is a learning process where children are familiarised with the means of having a horse. The sooner you can teach your child about it, the better, and the more naturally they will think it is to take care of an animal.
If you, as a parent, is used to horses and if your child show interest in horses then you can of course let them try riding one. Perhaps only for a few minutes to begin with.
Riding school, borrowing a horse or owning a horse?
If you do not have much experience with horses and do not know someone who does, then it is time well spend to visit a riding school. Your child can participate in a beginner’s class and even have a try out. If you, on the other hand, know what it is all about, but do not think you have the time or the money for your own pony then it is a good opportunity to borrow a horse. The market for borrowing horses and ponies is huge, so if you look up on the internet you will quickly find great options. It is very different how much you are allowed to ride a borrowed horse, the chores around the horse and what the cost will be. Several horse owners are looking for someone who besides riding the horse also participates in stable work. On the other hand, you are often allowed to ride the horse for cheaper money if you help out. It is a great opportunity to have some quality time as a family.
Riding is an expensive hobby
Riding is not a cheap hobby. Horses need food, water and a clean stable every day. The arenas must be clean and tidy, and if you are taking riding lessons the trainer must be paid. Therefore, at class once a week at the local riding school often cost between 500-600 Danish crowns.
You also have to remember all the equipment you need for your child. He or she needs a pair of riding breeches, boots and a helmet just to mention some. At some riding schools you can borrow a helmet. Luckily, equipment varies in prices and if you already have an old jacket and a t-shirt then you can easily buy a beginner’s packet for around 500 Danish crowns. Then it is not that much of a pity if your son or daughter suddenly lose interest in horses again.