Do you remember your first introduction to horses as a child? Chances are it was a positive one. Giving kids a positive introduction to horses increases the chances that they will continue to be involved with these animals throughout their life. Consider trying these five ways to introduce kids to horses.
1. Talk About the Rules for Safety Around Horses
Before you introduce your child to horses, start by talking with them about the general safety rules for being around horses. Depending on your child’s age, you may decide to go over rules such as not running around horses, how to speak calmly and quietly to a horse, and how best to approach a horse. Having an understanding of these rules ahead of time can help to ensure a positive and safe introduction.
2. Start By Visiting Horses
Try to set up a time where you can introduce your child to some horses. You may be able to arrange a visit with a friend or local barn owner. Ask ahead of time if you may bring snacks for the horses, and find out what types of snacks are best for you to bring – carrots are usually the easiest for a small child to safely feed a horse.
If you're interested in learning about which horse breeds might be best for introducing kids to horses, check out our article 4 Best Horse Breeds For Beginners.
3. Arrange for a Pony Ride
For your child’s first time on a pony, try to arrange for a pony ride. It is best if you find a reputable barn which offers pony rides, since you will know that the ponies are well-trained and the tack that is used is safe. A guided pony ride in a quiet, contained space can be a great way to make your child’s first time on a horse a positive experience.
4. Find a Great Instructor
If your child would like to take riding lessons, then it’s important to find a great instructor who is both child-friendly and focused on safety. There are many great riding instructors out there, but they don’t all work with children. Make an effort to find an instructor who is experienced in working with young children and who understands the unique challenges that teaching children to ride presents.
5. Support Your Child
One of the best ways that you can encourage your child to develop a positive relationship with horses is to support him or her. Provide books and magazines about horses which are geared to your child’s age. Answer your child’s questions about horses, and provide your child with opportunities to interact with horses. Your efforts to make a positive introduction can help your child to enjoy horses in the future.
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Do you have any tips on how to introduce kids to horses that you'd like to add? Let us know in the comments below?