How to Help Kids Learn From Horses

How to Help Kids Learn From Horses

A good horse is an excellent teacher for your children.

AQHYA small fry exhibitor waiting for showmanship judge with palomino mare (Credit: Journal)

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Horse ownership is a huge responsibility. It can also be one of the best investments you'll ever make on behalf of your children. Participation in the care of a horse teaches children some of the very things they'll need to succeed as adults – responsibility, how to honor a commitment, loyalty, organizational and management skills, and patience.

Caring for a horse provides daily lessons in selflessness. When children understand that the horse they love depends on them and their family for his quality of life, taking care of that horse gives them a sense of accomplishment and self worth.

Here are some tips for helping your children learn from horses:

1. Help your child establish a relationship with a horse.

  • Read and tell stories about horses.
  • Spend time as a family with horses on stress-free outings, such as feeding the horse carrots and apples.
  • Tie in activities the child enjoys with horses. Examples: If your child likes to fish, travel horseback to a good fishing hole. If your child’s into bug collecting and wildlife, take a horse ride through the wilderness.

2. Make the most of your child's involvement with horses.

  • Teach techniques and share information at every opportunity. Watch, groom and lead the horse, teaching your child proper treatment and care.
  • Stress safety. Teach safety measures around horses, and remind children often. Help your child see safety issues from the horse’s point of view.
  • Find creative ways to illustrate the importance of following rules. Example: watch the horse step on one of your child’s old shoes to demonstrate how heavy the horse is.
  • Emphasize the importance of caring for the horse. Explain that the horse can’t take care of himself and that’s why he needs your family to feed, water, groom and exercise him and keep his corral clean.

3. Have fun with your horses.

  • Accommodate their desires, whether they want to enter horse shows, take lessons, rope, jump or ride in local parades. Kids will keep an interest in horses, as long as they’re enjoying them. 

The opportunities attached to a childhood with horses are well worth any hassles or inconvenience. Not only is growing up with horses fun for kids, but they learn about setting and working toward goals. They get lessons in doing their personal best, in teamwork and sportsmanship. The child might never win a championship, but what he or she learns through competing can influence future social interaction, even careers.

Visit the Certified Horsemanship Association for help with finding and training the perfect horse for your child.