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The "Non-Horsey" Parents Guide To Riding Lessons

Updated on November 1, 2018
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.

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.

Find a family oriented lesson barn for your child to start taking lessons
Find a family oriented lesson barn for your child to start taking lessons | Source

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!

All the kids have their favorites, but they will learn to ride and handle a wide variety of horses.
All the kids have their favorites, but they will learn to ride and handle a wide variety of horses. | Source

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.

Stay and watch the lesson! Especially the ones in the beginning,it is fun to see them figuring out the basics, then you know what your child is talking so excitedly about!
Stay and watch the lesson! Especially the ones in the beginning,it is fun to see them figuring out the basics, then you know what your child is talking so excitedly about! | Source

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.

Take advantage of unmounted lessons, camps, clinics and other opportunities for your child to learn what else is involved in the horses besides just riding them.
Take advantage of unmounted lessons, camps, clinics and other opportunities for your child to learn what else is involved in the horses besides just riding them. | Source

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.

Riding you can only practice when you come to the barn and ride! Unlike other sports where you can kick the soccer ball or shoot hoops with the basketball at home.
Riding you can only practice when you come to the barn and ride! Unlike other sports where you can kick the soccer ball or shoot hoops with the basketball at home. | Source

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.

Eventually they will fall off, it comes with the territory. Hopefully they love it so much, they dust off and jump back on like nothing happened!
Eventually they will fall off, it comes with the territory. Hopefully they love it so much, they dust off and jump back on like nothing happened! | Source

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.

Hopefully you can find a warm, and friendly beginner barn. One like mine!
Hopefully you can find a warm, and friendly beginner barn. One like mine! | Source

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!

Hopefully soon you will find a friendly barn that feels like home!
Hopefully soon you will find a friendly barn that feels like home! | Source

Comments

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  • Ellison Hartley profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellison Hartley 

    18 months ago from Maryland, USA

    Yea, I have noticed with a lot of different things with horses that they are triggered by weather changes

  • Rick Benningfield profile image

    Rick Benningfield 

    18 months ago from North Texas

    The Mule (Rojo) is very old but is a good friend, he even likes being talked to. From time to time he will experience muscle loss in the hips but does recover after about 2 weeks. It is heart breaking when it occurs but I have read up on this problem and so far as I can tell I'm doing all I can for him at this point. It seems that there is a change in the weather is when it happens, usually when it turns cold and wet which is where it is now but being TEXAS it won't last long and we will be back to rather warm and dry weather.

  • Ellison Hartley profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellison Hartley 

    18 months ago from Maryland, USA

    I have two older ponies that we are treating for Cushings disease, seems to be pretty common in the older ones..

  • Rick Benningfield profile image

    Rick Benningfield 

    18 months ago from North Texas

    Today the clouds are quite thick and the weather is rainy, this is not a good day for me. It is hard to get going when it is like this especially as wet as it is right now. I am keeping a mule for a friend which lives is Minnesota, today I bought the Mule a Compressed Bale of Timothy Grass to see if he really likes it. He may be suffering from Cushing's or at least he displays some of the symptoms of Cushing's Disease or Syndrome.

  • Ellison Hartley profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellison Hartley 

    18 months ago from Maryland, USA

    Yep for sure, we have to have a healthy respect for their size and strength! Hope you are having a good week!

  • Rick Benningfield profile image

    Rick Benningfield 

    19 months ago from North Texas

    Ellison, do have a good day and do take care! The Horse is a wonderful animal but it is very easy for us to get hurt while working with them. They don't mean to hurt us but due to their size it can easily happen. Take care and watch it out there!

  • Ellison Hartley profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellison Hartley 

    19 months ago from Maryland, USA

    sorry, hit submit too soon! I'm recovering from a brain injury that happened when I wasn't riding, but on the ground with a horse. It sort of gave me a new perspective on helmets and safety with horses altogether. Not to mention from a instructors point of view in this day and age, for liability purposes it is a must!

  • Ellison Hartley profile imageAUTHOR

    Ellison Hartley 

    19 months ago from Maryland, USA

    I totally understand, about the computer thing. I'm not very good at them either and I'm only 34. Since I'm recovering from a traumatic brain injury on March 13, when I didn't even fall off the horse

  • Rick Benningfield profile image

    Rick Benningfield 

    19 months ago from North Texas

    Things are so much better now. When I was a child this stuff didn't exist. you were placed on or you got on by yourself and if you fell you had to get back up and get back on again. I think that I prefer this technique. Good article!

    I am new to using the computer but am learning, Please bear with me I've been around a long time. I started when I was 13 years old and am now 67. The helmet is a very good idea, personally I've always used a Cowboy hat but I do like this type better. I don't know how Major would react though! When I changed from Chaps to Chinks We had a problem at first. Do have a good day!

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