Benefits of horse riding for kids and types of competitions
If you are searching for an exciting sport and at the same time useful for your kids, you can not find an activity better than horse riding for kids.
Equestrian sport for children is one of the most challenging games, which has many benefits for your kids.
It is an ancient activity. The first competitions on it were held in Dublin in 1868.
In 1912, it was included in the program of the Olympic Games. It is not surprising that in the 21st century this sport is promising for the younger generation.
Today, For Kids will examine the main points related to horseback riding for kids, starting from the basic rules and the best age for the kids to start this sport.
Also, you will know the benefits, medical contraindication, disadvantages, cost of horseback riding lessons, and how to choose the suitable riding lessons and much more.
Types of horse riding competitions
There are many types of horseback riding competitions; only Eight types are held under the control of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).
From these 8 types, only three equestrian disciplines are a part of the summer Olympic program.
a- Olympic Equestrian competitions
1- Show jumping
Jumping is a type of equestrian sport associated with overcoming obstacles over a specific distance (from 200-1100 m).
The rider has to pass 12 – 20 fences, which can be knocked down (unlike cross country jumping ‘fixed obstacles’), within time limits.
Dressage is a demonstration of horse obedience, rhythm, balance, and the level of harmony with the rider.
It is a combination of three different disciplines in a one-day event or three days event.
The three disciplines are:
- Show jumping,
- dressage, and
- cross country jumping.
b- Non-Olympic horseback riding races
1- Endurance riding
A long-distance race usually for 50 to 100 miles (80 to 160 km), over mountains or other natural terrains.
A western riding competition for horses, in which the riders guide the horses through a precise pattern of spins, circles, and stops.
All work is done at the lope or the gallop.
4- Combined driving
A single, pair or a group of four horses pull a vehicle controlled by a rider.
This type has three phases: dressage, cross-country marathon, and obstacle cone driving.
Best age to start horse riding for kids
The best age to start horseback riding sport for kids is 5-6 years, as the main requirement of the pony club for the reception of a child is the ability to reach the stirrups with his foot. On average, it falls at the age of 5-6 years.
Of course, it all depends on the goal you are pursuing. If you plan that the child will be professionally involved in equestrian sports, then you must send him to the lessons at an earlier age.
Purposeful training to ride a horse is recommended to start from the age of 8. It is about enrolling in special sections.
At this age, the kids already begin to behave responsibly and realize the importance of communicating with such an animal as a horse.
At the same time, the kids should be accustomed to equestrian sports from an earlier age, for example, from the age of 4.
Under the supervision of adults, small children can sit on a horse, holding tightly on the saddle and the mane.
At the same time, an adult should not let out of control of the horses.
Discover if the toddler will love horseback riding or not:
At an earlier age, the baby can be taken on a tour of the stable, horse riding competitions, a contact zoo, etc.
You can also read fairy tales with the participation of horses, tell interesting stories, show pictures.
Thus, it is possible to discover the manifestation of interest in the child; the main thing is not to be intrusive: the child himself should love this sphere.
Benefits of horse riding sport for kids
There are many advantages to make your kid engage in horseback riding as a sport; let’s see some of these benefits:
While riding a horse, the kids need to do many movements simultaneously.
This will increase his muscle movement harmony and improve hand-eye coordination.
Therapeutic riding programs for kids with sight impairment and cerebral palsy have had a lot of success in developing better coordination.
2- Muscle power and flexibility
Riding a horse is an active process, sometimes the horse movements become unpredictable, and the kid should manage it.
That is why the rider all the time has to include the following muscle groups: back, abdominal, calf, and adductor muscles of the thigh.
This effect is difficult to achieve with simple visits to the gym.
3- Physical development
Horseback riding improves body balance, core strength, hand-eye coordination, motor coordination, and muscular development.
4- Character formation
Kids who spend a lot of time with a horse becomes open to the world, kind, understanding, calm.
The process of riding a horse teaches the kids to manage a large animal. Therefore, the child hardens his character, becomes responsible, and independent.
5- Self-confidence development
As kids make progress in horse riding skills, their self-confidence and self-assurance develop incredibly.
6- Emotional benefits
The young riders will learn to face their fears and uncertainty and act confidently.
7- Teach discipline
Riding sports such as horseback riding help to increase your kid’s patience levels.
It teaches him a lot of self-discipline, how to focus and control himself.
Hippotherapy is a trend in medicine, which refers to the use of horse movements as a treatment tool.
Hippotherapy engages the client in activities on the horse that are enjoyable and challenging to address impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities in patients with neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction.
Hippotherapy is used to treat patients with neurological disabilities, such as autism, arthritis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injury, head injury, behavioral disorders, and psychiatric disorders.
– ((See references for more details about hippotherapy)).
Disadvantages of horseback riding for toddlers
1- Dangerous sport
A horse is a living being and sometimes uncontrollable, but how dangerous is horseback riding?
There are many cases in which the “harmless” animal was the cause of the disaster. Parents who want to give their baby to the sport should know that.
The horse feels fear and negative emotions. It is important for the kids to be able to control them and not to show their weaknesses to the animal.
This will help prevent the horse from disobedience.
However, if your children join a reputable horseback riding school, the risk of injuries is almost non-existent.
It is necessary to pay not only for learning to ride a horse but also to spend a substantial amount on equipment.
These include jackets, vests, breeches, special shoes, helmets, gloves and more. The list is big.
Many parents buy horses. In this case, you will additionally need to purchase horse equipment.
This should be done to avoid injury to the horse. In addition to the saddle, they buy bits, rugs, bridles, reins, headcollars and lead Ropes.
3- Medical contraindications
The key disadvantages of equestrian sports are primarily tied to medical contraindications.
As horse riding harms the health of hypertensive children. During shaking, blood pressure increases, which can lead to a failure in cardiac activity.
Riding horses is also dangerous for children with soft bone tissue.
Medical contraindications of equestrian for kids
- It is categorically impossible to get involved in even ordinary horseback riding, not only for children but also for adults suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
These include heart disease, a stroke or heart attack, arterial hypertension, and more.
During horse riding, blood pressure and heartbeat increase, which can lead to negative consequences.
- Diseases of the pelvic organs, kidney disease, are exacerbated when riding a horse. This is due to rhythmic shaking.
- Despite the fact that horseback riding is useful in the case of diseases of the nervous system, equestrian sport should be abandoned to children suffering from severe phobias, for example, fear of heights.
The average cost of the horseback riding lessons and equipment
1- Cost of equestrian lessons
The cost of equestrian sports varies depending on the region in which your child plans to study, as well as the duration of training and level of training.
Classes are divided into private and group lessons. The first type will be more expensive, as the coach will pay all attention personally to your kids.
– The average cost of one-hour lessons for groups of three or more in many equestrian centers is $30 to $50 per person.
– Individual horseriding lessons nearly cost $70 to $80 for a one-hour lesson.
2- Cost of equestrian equipment
In the case of using the school horses and will not buy your horse, you still have to purchase personal equipment for your kids’ safety.
So you are looking at the following items:
- Proper shoes: (paddock boots and/or half-chaps) (at least $50 for basic, usable boots) ;
- A helmet: (NEVER buy a used one, this is a safety issue). You can find a lot of affordable equestrian helmets on Amazon.
- Gloves: you can get a pair for $10.
- Clothing: Long pants like jeans, breeches, or jodhpurs for around $40.
3- Other costs
Also, you have to pay for competitions and transportation.
In addition, You have to pay a lot of money if you decide to buy a horse for international competitions plus its equipment.
Tips for choosing the best horseback riding lessons
When selecting a school of equestrian sport for your kids, parents should take into account the following points:
1- The skill of the coach
The skill of the coach is the point that is worth taking into account as the coach will be with your child during the whole process of learning to ride a horse.
The trainer’s experience in handling the horse is important.
Be sure to find out how long he has been working in this field, be interested in his personal achievements.
Ask for documents related to the passage of specialized courses and professional development.
It is important the ability of the coach to find a common language with the toddlers.
He should be a psychologist who knows how to set the child on the right track. Also, the coach must be strict so that the kids can make progress.
2- Choosing horses
Each school presents horses of different breeds. If the child is small (4-6 years old), then a pony will suit him – a horse of short height.
For older children, choosing horses will depend on the type of horseback riding they will engage.
Abyssinian, Brazilian sport horse, Irish sport horse, Cleveland bay breeds are more suitable for equestrian sport, especially for show jumping, dressage, and eventing.
3- The distance of school/club from home
It is an important factor, especially in big cities as you can more than horse riding academy near you.
4- Tuition fees
Watch your budget and choose the most suitable horseback riding lessons for you.
5- Club specialty
Review the specialty of the horse riding club, as some equestrian academies focus on one type only.
If the child does not have any experience, then it is necessary to start practicing in a club where your kid can practice different types.
Also, pay attention to the number of other children who study in the group. Typically, the cost of education is proportional to the total number of students.
Riding horses for kids is one of the most challenging and at the same time exciting sports.
Having given the child to the equestrian sport, you will not regret it, because your kids will receive a lot of bonuses:
his mood will improve, self-esteem will rise, the child will become more independent.
In addition, his immunity will be strengthened; his posture will become beautiful, important muscle groups will be toned.
You should not lose sight of the fact that equestrian sport is one of the expensive sports.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons before making the final decision.
The main thing that should be taken into account is the desire of the kids and their love for horses.
If this is observed in your family, then the decision is obvious.