Thursday, July 28, 2011

How young is too young ?

Here, at the Adirondack Equine Center, we hear this question very often. So how young is too young? This all depends on the development of the child, not necessarily the age. Many horse owners find that the younger the children get acquainted with equines, the better riders they will become later in life.

Horseback riding develops many crucial skills such as balance, coordination, and most importantly, the ability to concentrate on one thing for longer than five minutes ! Riding horses also prepares children for doing other, attention based activities, such as driving an ATV, dirt bike, and later, a car. The younger they are, the quicker they learn, and are less exposed to any biased information, as one would, later in life. The trick is not to "over think" anything that you are attempting to accomplish, if you over think a simple activity such as riding, or driving, the more likely you will fail at what you'd like to achieve.

Children, as a general rule, are less nervous, perhaps due to their inability to differentiate between risk and danger. I believe that this ends somewhere around 8 years of age :) Once they realize that they can fall off and potentially hurt themselves, the imagination runs wild.
We take kids as young as four years old, sometimes younger, depending on how well they can demonstrate balance and coordination. What we do is we attach shorter stirrups (amusingly named "little dudes") to the horn of the saddle, place the child into the saddle, and secure him or her properly. When ready, we attach a lead rope to the horses' halter and off we go, walking by the young one's side to ensure they will have a good and safe ride.

Do you have a child's rate for horseback riding?

Unlike restaurants, where children eat free or at a reduced rate, our liability rate increases when kids are involved with horseback riding. We take the extra time and effort to make sure that your child has the best possible experience on horseback. Children also cannot ride tandem with their parents due to liability reasons - such as - if something were to go wrong, you either have control of the horse or the child, which makes for a very unpleasant experience.

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