It’s no secret that parenting is challenging, rewarding, and everything in between. When kids start growing up and developing their unique personalities, many parents struggle finding a way to spend more time and connect with them.
Finding a shared interest is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your children. When a child and parent mutually put in effort in a shared activity, a lot of great things can come out of it. This helps with your child’s self-esteem. Moreover, it enables you to build a deeper relationship with your children. Creating something or practicing a hobby together can be something you both can cherish in the years to come.
Do you love riding horses and want your children to join in the fun? Horse riding is not only a great way to exercise and improve balance, but it has also been shown to have a positive impact on one’s mood. When people ride or spend time around horses, the body releases a chemical known as serotonin, which is responsible for inducing the feeling of happiness.
That’s why it makes sense that you would want to get your kids familiar with horses and horse riding. While some children would love to interact with these majestic creatures, others might not feel naturally comfortable. And that is okay. Here are a few tips to make your kids feel at ease and confident around horses. Take a look.
- Teach Them About Horses
Children are curious beings and love to explore all living things. In particular, kids are fascinated by animals. Before taking your children near horses, it would be helpful to teach them more about horses. Tell them fun facts that would get them interested in seeing and interacting with horses in person.
Furthermore, you can spark their interest in horses by showing them entertaining horse movies. Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Dreamer, and Spirit are some highly-recommended movies.
Does your child idolize certain celebrities like Miley Cyrus or Bella Hadid, who love horse riding? You can use their example to inspire them.
2. Don’t Invalidate Their Fears
Facing something strong and tall like a horse for the first time can make your child feel nervous or even fearful. Wouldn’t you feel scared if you were suddenly next to an animal several times your size?
Don’t make the mistake of invalidating their fears! Because kids don’t deserve to be shamed for a legitimate fear. In fact, mocking them can have the opposite effect.
Take time to ask and understand what your child is worried about. Maybe they heard a story of someone getting hurt by a horse, or they might be afraid of falling. Acknowledge their fears and explain to them that injuries can be prevented with the right precautions and techniques. And of course, assure them that you will do everything to keep them safe.
3. Show Them How to Love Horses
Horses are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate animals. Introducing your children to horses with their names and fun personality traits is a good place to start. You can also show them horse books, pictures, paintings, movies, and Youtube videos before taking them to actually meet one.
This will grow their love and respect for horses. For fearful children, this will help them realize that horses can become their lifelong friends.
4. Don’t Pressure Them
It isn’t the best idea to push your child to do more than what they initially agreed to. If they just wanted to go see the horses, you shouldn’t pressure them to start riding one.
It takes time to build confidence. So, give your child an opportunity to get comfortable around horses. When you start teaching them how to ride a horse, show them the basics on the ground rather than asking them to mount the horse. This way, they won’t feel overwhelmed and would feel more in control.
5. Find a Well-Trained Horse
Once your child is comfortable enough to meet a horse, it’s crucial to make their first meeting a positive experience. An aggressive or crabby horse can create an unfavorable impression on a young child.
So be careful and find a well-trained horse for your child’s first interaction. Ponies are smaller and may make a child feel at ease. However, if your child is considering riding for the first time, a pony can be harder to control. Usually, mares are willing and easier to handle.
6. Encourage Your Kids to Ask Questions
It’s typical for children to ask several questions. Rather than dismissing their doubts or telling them false stories, make an effort to answer all their questions honestly and as clearly as possible. Don’t just tell them the rules and etiquette but also give them the reasoning behind them. If you lack the experience, don’t hesitate to ask an expert to give your child some guidance.
7. Get Them to Join a Club
Most kids enjoy being around other kids and doing activities together. If you didn’t find the right approach to introduce your kids to horses, signing them up for horse riding might help. They can socialize with other children and learn more about horses in a fun and supportive environment. This could also be a productive yet entertaining activity to do during summer vacations.
8. Keep it Fun
It would be unfair to introduce your child to horse riding and expecting them to become an award-winning equestrian. If you start overburdening kids with responsibility and force this lifestyle on them, they may lose interest or even start resenting the activity.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to spend quality time with your kids and introduce them to the joy of befriending a horse. So keep it light and fun.
The Bottom Line
If you have horses, then involving your kids can help take some work off your plate. In addition to helping you out, caring for horses can teach your kids valuable life skills such as trust, respect, and responsibility.