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Riding High: The Benefits and Considerations of Horse Riding for Kids

Benefits of Horse Riding for Kids

Horse riding is a great activity for kids, not only is it a practical skill, but it is also a fun and enjoyable form of exercise. Riding horses can provide benefits to children’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing.

Getting Kids Moving

Horse riding is a great way to get kids moving and promote physical activity. Horse riding is not just about sitting on a horse, it requires balance, coordination and muscle strength to control the horse and maintain good posture.

Horse riding also requires movement from the lower body, which is an excellent way to strengthen leg muscles. The motion of riding a horse also works to improve core strength and tone abdominal muscles.

Teaching Responsibility

Horse riding is more than just riding the horse; it is a commitment to care for an animal. Children will learn responsibility for another creature’s wellbeing, including feeding, grooming and making sure that their horse is healthy.

This level of responsibility not only teaches children the importance of caring for animals, but it also strengthens their sense of responsibility and promotes empathy.

Goal Setting

Riding horses is a lifelong activity, and it requires time, patience and a desire to learn. Riding horses involves setting goals, identifying the steps to reach these goals, and then working hard to achieve them.

It can also teach children that not every success will come quickly, and that some things require perseverance and patience. Goals can range from simple things like learning to trot to more challenging goals like competing.

Improving Mental Health

Riding horses has therapeutic benefits for mental health. The constant focus required for riding, combined with the fresh air and the presence of nature, can help to reduce stress levels in riders.

Horse riding can help children develop healthy coping mechanisms, including being present in the moment and letting go of distractions. It can also have a therapeutic effect on children who struggle with anxiety.

Teamwork Skills

Horse riding is a social activity, and it involves working with others, including instructors and other riders. Riders often cheer each other on, celebrate their achievements, and support each other in their learning.

Horse riding helps children learn about teamwork, communication, and patience, encouraging a sense of community and developing healthy social skills.


With all of these benefits, it can be easy to assume that horse riding is expensive and only accessible to the wealthy. But there are many affordable options for horse riding lessons, including riding schools and barns that offer group lessons or leasing horses.

It is also important to note that buying a horse is not always necessary, as many barns offer the opportunity to lease a horse for a set period of time. When Should Kids Start Riding Horses?

Determining when a child should begin riding horses is a consideration that requires a nuanced approach. There are age requirements that are put in place by lesson barns, but it’s also important to factor in a child’s individual maturity and ability to follow instructions.

Age Requirements and Individual Maturity

While some lesson barns have age requirements for riders, it’s important to remember that age doesn’t necessarily mean maturity. Some six-year-olds can follow directions and have the impulse control necessary to ride safely, while some ten-year-olds may struggle to do so.

A child’s ability to understand and follow instructions should be the primary consideration when deciding when to start riding horses.

Mitigating Risk and Protecting Children

Horse riding is an activity that comes with some inherent risks. To ensure the safety of young riders, it’s important to take every necessary precaution to reduce risk factors.

Factors that can reduce risk include having a qualified instructor, using older horses who have been well-trained, and requiring protective safety gear such as helmets. By mitigating risk, riding horses can be an enjoyable and safe activity for children.


Overall, horse riding offers numerous benefits to children, ranging from physical fitness to emotional wellbeing. While age requirements are considered, maturity and the ability to follow instructions are more important when determining when to begin riding.

Finally, mitigating risk factors is important in ensuring children can ride horses safely. What is the Best Horse for Kids?

Horse riding can be a great activity for kids, but it’s important to choose the right horse or pony for the child’s age, temperament, and skill level. There are some general considerations to keep in mind when selecting a horse or pony for a child.

Temperament, Skill and Experience of Individual Horses or Ponies

One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a horse for a child is temperament. Horses and ponies have unique personalities and temperaments, just like people do.

Generally, calm and docile horses are best for beginners. These horses are well-trained, and they know how to respond to inexperienced riders.

They are often referred to as “schoolmasters” because they have been used in riding schools to teach children the basics of horse riding. When looking for a horse or pony for a child, it’s important to find one with a temperament that matches the child’s personality.

For example, an excitable and nervous child might benefit from a more laid-back and relaxed horse, while a child who is more confident might benefit from a more spirited horse that can match their enthusiasm. It’s also important to consider the horse’s level of training and experience.

A horse that has been well-trained and has extensive experience working with children is much better suited for beginners than a horse that has little to no experience with inexperienced riders.

Age and Size Considerations

Another factor to consider when choosing a horse or pony for a child is their age and size. The “30 rule” is often used to determine the maximum weight that a horse can carry safely.

According to this rule, the maximum weight a horse can comfortably carry is around 20% of its body weight. But there are other considerations in matching a child to a horse.

It’s more important to find a horse that is proportionate to the size of the child, so they can maintain balance. For safety reasons, parents should avoid putting young children on young or excitable horses.

Inexperienced horses and ponies are not the best choice for young riders, as they can be easily spooked and lack the necessary experience to respond appropriately to inexperienced riders. Calm and experienced older horses are usually better suited for young riders.

These horses have established temperaments and are generally less excitable than younger horses. They have been extensively trained and have had ample experience working with young riders.

Can Toddlers Ride Horses? The question of whether young toddlers can ride horses is a subject of much debate.

While some parents may be eager to introduce their young children to the joys of horse riding, safety concerns and the ability of toddlers to follow directions make it an issue that requires careful consideration.

Personal Decision and Trainer Policies

Whether toddlers are too young to ride horses is a personal decision for parents to make. Some riding schools and trainers offer lead line lessons with ponies, where young children can be led around on a pony by a trainer or parent.

In this setting, the child gets a chance to experience the fun of being on a pony, while remaining safe and under close supervision. Other trainers may offer traditional lessons for very young children, although it is important to keep in mind that these are not always the best choice for toddlers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends horseback riding for children 4 and older due to safety concerns.

Safety and Responsibility Precautions

Before young children are allowed to start horseback riding, parents and trainers must take additional precautions to ensure their safety. Young riders must always wear helmets and other protective gear while riding.

In addition, the horse or pony must be calm and well-trained to ensure that the child remains safe and comfortable during the ride. It is worth mentioning that, from a safety standpoint, young children are not always equipped to understand the instructions given by the instructor.

As such, young children will require more in-person guidance, making it up to parents to decide whether they are willing and capable of providing this support.

Concluding thoughts

When it comes to choosing the best horse or pony for a child or determining if toddlers can ride horses, safety must always be the top priority. Taking the necessary steps to ensure that children are matched with the right horse and supervised by experienced trainers can pave the way for a positive and enjoyable experience with horseback riding.

Listen to Your Child (And Your Gut)

Parents looking to introduce their children to horse riding have a lot to consider, from the age and temperament of the horse to the personal decision of whether or not their toddler is ready. At the same time, there are important elements of decision making that relate to your child and the importance of listening to their wishes as well as your intuition.

Supporting Your Child’s Love of Riding

The love of horses and riding can create cherished memories that last a lifetime. A child’s enthusiasm towards horse riding can be supported by finding ways to immerse them in the activity.

Encourage their interest by participating in local riding communities or visiting horse shows. Attending shows or watching horse races can create an exciting atmosphere where children can witness experienced riders in action.

It makes the whole process more tangible, particularly for those children who have not had the chance to ride yet. Choosing riding schools that provide training opportunities and access to experienced trainers is essential, especially during the formative stages of horse riding.

Learning in a supportive, passionate environment fosters growth, both in riding technique and in the love for the equestrian sport. Under the guidance of trained instructors, children can gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of horses’ temperament and learn how to properly care for them.

Decision Making

Heeding the needs of your child and paying attention to your intuition can be invaluable in navigating the world of horse riding. Intuitive decision-making can protect your child from harm or help them navigate a more enriching experience.

Listening to Your Child and Gut

A child’s experience of horse riding is unique and personal to them. Factors such as temperament and age can influence a child’s interest and pace of learning.

As you consider whether to keep your child involved in horse riding, knowing their attitude and opinion of the activity can be a crucial factor in making the right decision. You must keep track of your childs interest and enthusiasm for the activity, and listen to their thoughts before deciding on the course of action.

Simply put, listening to your gut often means paying close attention to your instincts, thoughts, and feelings regarding the situation. Sometimes you can get a feeling of safety or concern about a situation, and it is crucial to pay attention to that feeling.

Trusting your intuition and inner voice can help you make the most sensible decision regarding the welfare and well-being of your child.

Reaching Out to Trainers and Parents

Trainers and parents play a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of child riders. Experienced trainers can help answer questions and provide necessary information relating to all aspects of horse riding.

They can offer advice on matching a child with the right horse, as well as how to properly care for horses. Sharing your concerns with other parents whose children participate in horse riding and training can be beneficial in many ways.

You can gain additional insight into the experience, learn about other local riding communities, and get feedback on the best riding schools or trainers to approach.

Concluding thoughts

Parents who are considering horse riding for their children have much to consider. It is important to take into account your child’s wishes, age, temperament, and ability.

Parents are advised to heed their gut instincts and seek guidance from experienced trainers, other parents, and local horse communities to make informed decisions. By nurturing a child’s interest and love for horse riding, they may participate in a favorite pastime while gaining proficiency in an activity that benefits them in many ways.

In conclusion, when it comes to horse riding, listening to your child’s wishes, taking into account factors such as age and temperament, and trusting your instincts when making decisions are crucial elements to consider. Supporting your child’s love for horse riding, connecting with experienced trainers, parents, and local riding communities, are essential for providing guidance and ensuring safety.

Paying attention to your child’s interest levels and well-being, and heeding your intuition are crucial for fostering a positive and memorable experience. Remember, horse riding offers numerous benefits to children, including physical fitness, learning responsibility and goal-setting, teamwork, and improved mental health.


Q: At what age should a child start horse riding? A: It depends on the child’s ability to understand and follow instructions, but generally, children four and older are considered safe to begin horse riding

Q: What is the best type of horse for a beginner rider?

A: Beginner riders are best paired with horses or ponies that are calm, experienced, and well-trained. Q: How important is personal intuition when choosing a horse or pony for a child?

A: Personal intuition is crucial when it comes to ensuring that the child is matched with the right horse and supervised by experienced trainers to create a positive and enjoyable experience with horseback riding. Q: Can toddlers go horse riding?

A: Toddlers can ride horses, but it is essential to take additional precautions to ensure their safety. It is recommended that parents wait until their child is four or older.

Q: What benefits does horse riding provide for children? A: Horse riding provides numerous benefits, including physical fitness, learning responsibility and goal-setting, teamwork, and improved mental health.

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