P.R. asks from Boyd, TX on April 05, 2011
?'S on Horseback Riding Lessons for Daughter
We are looking into starting horseback riding lessons with our daughter. She is 6 yrs old, she loves horses. We have looked into a few places, Ride with Pride in Southlake and Rising Star Ranch in Roanoke. Has anyone had any experiences with either of these places? Are horseback riding lessons safe for a 6 yr old?
R.J. answers from Seattle on April 06, 2011
I agree with everything Susan said, except 1 thing, I rode both western and english, and for *me* english was FAR easier. :D :D :D I suspect it's personal preference.
I started riding draft horses at age 5 (now there's a sight, we're talking 18 hands high), did western for about a year at age 8, went back to English (dressage & jumping) at 9, exercised racehorses in Del Mar at 12 & 13, and went cross country at 14-18 (I moved around a lot... I rode whatever was available). Polo I didn't start till my 30's.
You fall off. You get stepped on (huzzah for boots, even rubber ones are better than sneakers). You have close calls with fingers. There's an old saying that 'you're not a horseman till you've fallen off 7 times'. But kids don't fall, as a rule, because they can't. Not unless they try. Kids in lessons are put on SEDATE horses. The calmest, gentlest, most boring horses on the planet. And they walk. Faster gaits are saved until they've got "being a burr" down.
Is it safe? Safer than skating or gymnastics. A LOT safer than driving in a car. But no sport is truly safe. You get hurt from time to time in any sport. Is it a dangerous sport? Not when taught correctly, and not at lower levels. Like swimming & diving. Little kids in swimming lessons don't get splattered cliff diving, because they don't DO that level. They're in the shallow end closely monitored. Same with riding. I've had my own son riding as often as possible (not a lot, though, time and money issues) since he was 3. I feel bad for him, since half of his friends have had their own pony since they were 3-5.
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S.H. answers from Honolulu on April 05, 2011
I don't know about those places.
But I grew up riding horses. Western style.
What style of riding, do these places teach?
A riding school, has ages they start kids at.
You can also, go there and observe. Once or more times.
I would do that.
See how they handle the children.
How they are supervised.
If the handlers are background checked etc.(anyplace that teaches/handles children has to be background checked).
How the groups are divided up... by age or ability????
Are they taught horse care as well?
Are they led around a rink by a Teacher/adult while being led with a lead rope?
Or do they follow along on their own horse, and following another Leader on her/his horse?
I rode from a young age.
But the horse I rode was tame.
I however, was also thrown from a horse, twice. By our other horse. Even though I knew how to ride.
Also keep in mind, costs.
I would suggest Western Style riding, versus English.
Western is perhaps easier for "kids" to learn.
Just some ideas.
All the best,
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A.C. answers from Columbus on April 06, 2011
I don't have any experience with these facilities. However, maybe some of the info here & from other posters will help.
Six years old is old enough to start riding lessons--at this age, a child has the physical coordination and mental concentration to do it, generally. The lesson horse(s) chosen for a beginner rider are gentle, quiet, mild mannered creatures. That doesn't mean that they won't offer learning challenges, but they are generally the safest horses.
Size of the horse is actually no as important as temperament (personality and willingness to be cooperative). So don't worry too much if they put her on a bigger horse, rather than a pony (some ponies can be downright cantankerous! :)
The instructor/facility should require all kids to wear ASTM riding helmets and boots with a heel (often called paddock boots), and long pants. Gloves, and riding pants (breeches or jodhpurs, or special riding leggings) are good. Ask the facility if they have helmets you can borrow, and if they know of any place locally (local tack shops) where you can buy gently-used riding equipment, like boots and helmets & riding pants.
If they don't require this (helmet, boots, long pants), don't ride there. If they don't require those basics, that's a red flag.
The horses should all look healthy (shiny fur, good hay should be in evidence), and the facility should be well kept up -- no falling down gates/fences in disrepair. Avoid places that have animals that look underfed (you can see their ribs, their hair coat is dull or ratty looking---but don't hold it against them if a few of the horses are dirty---horses like to roll in the mud!
You might check to see if the instructors at either place have certification(s) through any association. The two main associations that certify riding instructors are:
Amer. Riding Instructors Assoc:
Certified Horsemanship Association
But instructors don't have to be certified in order to open their door and start offering lessons....
Most people start out riding Western (think cowboys) or English (think jumping, though they won't do jumping for a while, most likely).
Another good resource is your local 4H horse club and/or extension office.
Feel free to send me a message if you'd like.
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A.V. answers from Washington DC on April 06, 2011
Our local place requires children to be 8 for first riding lessons. I think they're a great thing for a kid, but you need to make sure the kid is ready. It's an expensive thing to do if the kid isn't really ready for all involved, or big enough. I would look for a place that lets you rent vs having to own for beginners. SD rented her helmet and we said that if she got to jumping we'd buy her boots and riding pants (but she didn't get that far for various scheduling reasons).
Our facility required SD to wear a helmet (they rode English) and she learned how to take basic care of a horse, learned how to saddle up, etc. They had a group of teaching horses and they varied on size and attitude and the teachers paired them up with the kids pretty well. There was one very old, slow mare that hated to canter, and each kid got to ride her to learn how to encourage a horse without being mean about it.
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H.V. answers from Cleveland on April 06, 2011
I don't know about those places because I don't live there.
But Horse back riding is soo much fun. I was born into a horse lover family. I've owned them my whole life. Well I don't right now haha but my mom Does, I had to sell my baby :(
Make sure that you have ALL the safety things you will need. Do not skip cause of cost. You need riding boots, helmet, gloves would probably help, Riding pants (or Jeans)
DO not let her wear anything put riding pants or Jeans. Any little leggings could hurt her lil legs.
They are pretty safe for lil kids. Like Riley said, the horses they use for kids lessons are the calmest horses you will ever see. They have to be in order to be used.
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