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Introducing Children to Horses

Introducing children to horses is always and interesting topic!! I have a big family. I’ve met families much, much bigger than mine. With more than 50 close relatives that I see very often, I would consider my family to be very involved with one another. With a big family, comes lots of kids. When you are the only one in the family with horses, introducing the children to horses on your farm can be a challenge. Knowing you have horses will always make people want to come visit to see the horses or ask to ride. Let’s take a look at how I introduce children horses on my farm:

Most importantly, before you allow the introducing of children to horses, make sure you go over all horse safety rules. Any child, any age, must know the proper precautions to follow when around horses. Explain to him or her how large horses are and how they hurt us without even realizing it. Show them where they should or shouldn’t stand when approaching a horse. The horse cannot see them at all moments, and that is why it is so important to never walk behind the horse. Be sure to let the child know not to run around and yell and scream at the barn because it can scare the horses. It might be best to explain all of the safety rules before you get to the horse barn because the child may lose focus once in the barn from excitement.

Once you’ve explained the safety precautions to the child or children, bring the horse out and introduce him or her to the children in a soft and calm manner. I brought my horse out and had my cousin walk up slowly and let the horse sniff her. Of course I gave my cousin a little treat to give the horse, it makes him warm up to people very fast. Who doesn’t love treats??!!

After I introduced the children to horses, I brought my favorite horse in the barn and put him on cross ties. I went over all of the different grooming tools for the horse and how to use each one. She really enjoyed learning the different brushes and helping to groom my horse.

Now was the time to tack up, since the whole reason she was there was to ride my horse! I explained each step I was doing as I tacked my horse up. The names of all of the parts of the saddle were explained, bridle, etc. She had lots of questions so I took things slowly to help her understand everything. Before we brought my horse outside, I got her helmet snugged on her head. Always start the first ride with the child wearing a helmet, so that good helmet wearing habits are started at an early age.

For the first ride, I had a friend walk beside my cousin in the saddle and myself leading my horse. She was a little nervous but we both assured her she was doing great. She loved it and did not want to get off! After walking like this for a long time, we helped her to get off and had her help walk the horse back to the barn.

Once on the cross ties, I started to take off my horse’s tack, and again explain all of the parts and pieces. I explained to her that we have to groom the horse before and after the ride. And of course finished with her giving my horse a treat before we brought him back out to his pasture.

Following these same steps are great ways to introduce a child to your horse. If the child continues to show interest in horses, that may be the time to look into lessons. Ask around where others have brought their children for lessons and if they would recommend it. Or bring your child to a horse show to show them what it’s all about. Introducing kids to horses is so much fun, and it opens the next generation to the love that we have for our horses.