There’s no doubt that horses are fun, but did you realize that allowing your child to participate in horse related activities can enhance important skills, including goal-setting, self-reliance, and follow-through. At The Flying G Ranch, we are dedicated to providing high quality horsemanship programs for that very reason. Horses are so beneficial for children and their growth. It is an ideal activity and hobby to get involved with (It’s great for parents too!).
Here’s a few of the great benefits of participating in riding lessons and horsemanship camps from the American Youth Horse Council:
Horses make wonderful childhood companions. Children are naturally attracted to them, and that makes horses a desirable alternative to TV-watching, Internet-surfing, or just “hanging out.” Horseback riding also puts children in touch with nature, and can be enjoyed alone or in groups.
When the whole family gets involved, the time spent together with horses can enhance the bond among family members and become the stuff of treasured childhood memories. Moreover, the benefits of horse involvement are enduring, as a child’s “horse habit” can evolve into a rewarding lifelong hobby.
Handling, riding, and caring for a horse or pony can develop a host of positive traits in a child, including responsibility, accountability, patience, level-headedness, empathy, kindness, and self-discipline.
“The most important thing I’ve learned,” wrote one 17-year-old study participant, “is that hard work and believing in yourself can get you anywhere.”
Even equine nature itself can exert a positive influence on a child.
“Horses can’t be made to feel guilty, or talked into saying yes when they know they should say no,” observes Dr. Janet Sasson Edgette, an equestrian sport and child/adolescent/family psychologist, and author of Heads Up: Practical Sports Psychology For Riders, Their Families, and Their Trainers (www.HorseBooksEtc.com or www. headsupsport.com). “They simply respond to what their rider does. Riding enables kids to realize how their choices, attitudes, and behaviors affect the other living creatures around them,” she adds.
The perseverance needed to ride well can translate into improved performance in the classroom. “Riding increases a child’s focus and intensity,” observes California trainer Carol Dal Porto, who prepares youngsters to compete on the Appaloosa circuit. “You can’t let your mind wander when you’re riding a 1,200-pound animal.” This learned concentration later shows up in kids’ schoolwork, “to their parents’ delight,” adds Dal Porto.
Riding is terrific exercise. “People who think the horse does all the work have never really ridden,” notes Katie Phalen, an instructor at Waredaca Farm in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Apart from its aerobic benefits, riding also helps a youngster develop balance, coordination, and flexibility, she notes. Moreover, the activities involved in caring for a horse–grooming, hefting buckets and saddles, cleaning stalls–can make for a great upper-body workout.
Then, too, as children learn how important good nutrition, veterinary check-ups, dental work, and regular exercise are to a horse, they begin to appreciate their own health needs.
OK, But Aren’t Horses Expensive?
They don’t have to be. Besides, as all parents know, expense is a relative term in child rearing.
“One Pony Club dad summed it up this way,” notes national Pony Club past president Melanie Heacock. “‘I knew that when my daughter turned 13, I was going to be spending a lot of money–at the shopping mall, on behavior counseling, or on horses. I chose horses, and I’ve never regretted it.’”
In the 21st century, when parenting is not a job for the faint at heart, horses provide a way to keep youngsters positively engaged during those “scary” years from pre-teen through young adulthood.
Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share that article. I think it sums up the purpose, heart and soul of Flying G.
Hope to see you all soon at the Ranch!
Claudia “Sprite” Gaughan