In this guest article, Katie Allen-Clarke from Horse and Country shares some insight into the benefits of horse riding for children.
Thanks Katie for contributing to the Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland blog.
Children really bond with animals, and many of them love horses in particular. If your child seems interested in riding lessons, or if you’re looking for a worthwhile hobby for your little one to take up, you might be wondering what the benefits of horse riding are for children.
Though they might look a little intimidating, horses can make wonderful companions for children (and adults alike!) and have a positive impact on their development – both physically and mentally. Below, I’ll talk you through just a few of the reasons why horse riding can be the ideal activity for your child.
Horse riding is an activity that can boost a child’s self-confidence. Although they are told what to do and guided by a trainer, they will eventually do lots of the learning and decision-making themselves -and the act of riding a horse soon becomes an independent activity. As they progress, they’ll feel a sense of achievement, particularly if you encourage them to reflect on their progress. Independence, progression, and reflection are all crucial for a child’s development and can be great for their mental health and confidence.
Horse riding is an extremely enjoyable hobby, but it’s not all fun and games! As part of their lessons, children will be expected to help care for the horses, including activities such as mucking out or brushing them. These responsibilities encourage children to develop their self-discipline as they reflect on how their actions impact another creature. Even when riding, children will learn that there are certain things they can’t do to their horse, which allows them to experience rules and responsibility as they learn to ride and interact with other creatures.
You may be surprised to learn that horse riding can have benefits for a child’s social skills, as horses can’t talk. But children get a lot of social experience from non-verbal communication, like leaning forwards or backwards in the saddle to tell their horse to go faster or slower, or clicking to get their attention. This can be especially beneficial for shy children or children with autism who may struggle to communicate with words. And of course, children will be able to practice their conversation skills with their trainer too, including speaking, listening, and following instructions.
Focus and concentration
For children, spending time outside can be very impactful on their development as well as their emotional well-being, and being around nature and animals is stimulating in all the right ways. You’ll likely find that the time they spend horse riding will improve their focus and concentration during other tasks, including schoolwork. Horse riding can teach them other critical skills like problem-solving that they can utilise in other areas of their life, too.
While it may seem from the outside(!) like the horse is doing most of the exercise, horse riding can be a fantastic form of exercise for your little one. Sitting upright on a horse strengthens their core, and even activities like leading, mucking out, and brushing their horse will stretch their muscles and increase blood flow. It’s a great way to keep fit, and they won’t even notice they’re doing exercise! Afterwards, they’ll surely sleep better at night after all that mental and physical stimulation.
Horse riding is a lot of fun, and your kids will love bonding with their horse and learning how to ride. But it can also have a lot of benefits for their health and happiness, too. For more tips and advice on the benefits of horse riding, be sure to check out the rest of the Horse Riding With Confidence blog.