The "Non-Horsey" Parents Guide To Riding Lessons
Start In A Lesson Program
Even if you know a friend who has a horse or a friend of a friend, you want your child to learn from a professional who knows the appropriate progression of teaching lessons and knows to emphasize safety.
So find a nice lesson barn, and enroll your child in lessons. Group lessons or privates are normally offered at beginner lesson barns. That would be up to you and your child which way to go.
Some kids that are timider prefer that they have the instructor one on one. If your child is outgoing they will probably really enjoy group lessons.
Commit to a session or a season. You want to ride for them long enough to understand the safety rules and basic skills, but also, before you decide whether or not riding is something they want to continue on with, we want them to realize that riding can be hard. A lot of kids go into lessons thinking the horse is just going to basically take them around the ring, which is not the case. Some kids rise to the challenge and continue on their horsemanship journey. Others decide it is too hard and not as fun and easy as they had first thought it was.
You Don't Have To Spend A Ton Of Money On Equipment
Most lesson barns will let you start as long as you have some sort of boots and an approved riding helmet. Some barns even have helmets that you can borrow. You can find cheap riding boots for kids on Amazon or at a local consignment shop.
Don't invest in more than the basics until you know that your child is going to stick with it. In other words, don't buy a lot of riding stuff until your child knows that riding is hard work and is still eager to continue to learn
You Pay, Why Doesn't Your Child Get The Horse They Want?
Each horse has it's own lessons to teach the students. Instructors chose horses for their students based on what they need to work on and what horse is best suited for that lesson.
Most likely if your child is given a more challenging horse, the instructor thinks they are progressing and ready for the challenge. So instead of asking us to give your child the horse they want, help us out by encouraging them and telling them how much progress they have made!
Watch The Lessons
Be involved, bring a chair and sit and watch the lessons. That way you know what is going on. Not to mention that you will begin to learn a lot about the horse world, just by watching the lessons and being in the barn environment.
Take Advantage Of All The Opportunities The Barn Has To Offer
If your child's instructor offers clinics, summer camp or fun days. Participating in these sorts of things is how your child will learn how much goes into horse care and that there is a lot more to horses than just riding them. If you are the parent of a horse crazy child, you want them to learn to be good all around horsemen and women, not just good riders.
The two really go hand and hand, though kids riding in weekly lessons tend to not get as much of a feel for the horsemanship skills until they start getting more involved in other barn activities.
Understand That Riding Is Not Like Other Sports
Riding is not like soccer or lacrosse. You only can practice it when you come to the lessons regularly. Since you can't practice it at home if you miss lessons after lessons, there is no way to keep on moving forward with their riding skills. Especially in the early stages of learning, if you miss a lot, you will basically have to start all over again each lesson. Which can be frustrating for both student and instructor.
They Will Fall Off
If your child is still really into the lessons after realizing it is harder than it looks, that is fabulous. I'm sure by now you are starting to feel more comfortable in the barn environment.
The time will come though, that your child will fall off. It happens to the best of us and is inevitable if you ride horses. When your child falls off for the first time, hopefully, they just dust off and get back on. If they are more reluctant, hopefully, they just need to take it slow and boost their confidence again.
Some kids once they fall off, are like in shock and don't want to ride anymore. Which is okay. I just insist that they at least get back on and ride a few more times. I don't want anyone giving up because of fear. If they get back to where they were and still have lost interest in riding anymore. Then you just learned it's not for them. Again, that is totally fine. It isn't for everyone and is a lot harder than most think it is when they first sign up. Unfortunately though, falling off comes with the territory and if your child( or you)aren't okay with that, then riding isn't going to be your thing.
The Barn Can Be Intimidating To New Families
When you first start lessons and aren't familiar or comfortable with horses, the barn can be an intimidating place. Hopefully, you will find a nice family barn and will quickly feel at home, and comfortable enough to ask questions if they come up.
We Don't Expect You To Know Everything! Ask Away!
As instructors, we know that not all families come to the barn with a background in horses. We expect you to ask questions when you have them and we work hard to make everyone feel safe and comfortable in the barn environment.
We look forward to sharing our knowledge with you and we hope that even if your family comes to the farm with no horse background at all, that you will love it, and join with us in this crazy horse life!