If you are a keen equestrian yourself then you will probably be hoping that your child will share your enthusiasm. Even if you have never ridden yourself you might have a little one who simply loves ponies. Your kids could be desperate to get in the saddle but at what age is it safe for them to start riding?
Pony Club Advice
The Pony Club say that the age of six is an appropriate time to start riding but some branches offer mini-camps for kids as young as four years of age. Meanwhile the British Horse Society says the ideal time to start will depend on the youngster concerned and they are almost certainly right.
Kids are Individuals
It is crucial that youngsters can ride safely and so they must have the required co-ordination, attention span and balance. Every child is different and their development may be affected by the other activities that they engage in. For instance, kids that have attended ballet school from an early age may have superior balance. Youngsters who play ball sports will often have improved their co-ordination.
The age that your children are able to start riding might also be dictated by your local riding school. They may have their own rules regarding kids and these could have been imposed upon them by their insurers.
If you have your own horses then there is nothing to stop you testing the water when you feel that youngster is ready. You can also pop them in the saddle at any age to get them accustomed to the feel of being on horseback. Even a small pony can seem intimidating to a toddler! If you do let your children sit on a horse then make sure that they wear a hat and that you stay with them at alltimes.
Attention Span and Stamina
When your child does start to ride, remember that their attention span is likely to be rather short and that they will tire quire easily. It is best to stick to short sessions at the outset and then build up your child's stamina and confidence gradually.
The Unwilling Equestrian
Whatever you do, try to avoid forcing the issue. If your youngster is reluctant to ride then insisting that they take to the saddle could put them off riding forever. Especially if they do have a fall early on. Children are far more likely to really engage with horses if they are willing participants. You might have to accept that your child does not share your love of horses and that their interests lie elsewhere. Most kids love riding, even if they lack confidence to start with, but riding isn't for everyone and some youngsters simply won't take to it no matter how hard you try. If your child isn't keen to ride then wait a little longer because they could change their minds!