Horse riding is a popular sport, which can be successfully practiced by children as young as a few years old. When is it worth signing up your child for this type of activity? What are the main advantages of horse riding?
At what age can a child start riding?
This question is probably asked by every parent, whose child shows willingness to try his hand at horse riding. 4-5 years is a minimum age in which a child can take the first lessons with the horse. Most often these are short walks in the saddle, on a led by an instructor pony. In order to diversify such classes, various elements of games are introduced. In addition, children help with cleaning and saddling up the horse, learn how to hold the reins and feet in the stirrups, and learn the names of different brushes. Classes may also include elements of galloping or feeling the rhythm of the horse. Children at this age cannot yet steer a horse themselves. This is because their coordination and attention are still too young.
Learning the basics of riding ponies can be mastered by toddlers who are about 6-7 years old. Children learn how to ride an obstacle course, which includes elements such as slalom, envelope and maze, as well as how to ride at a walk and trot. Additionally, they perform tasks such as throwing a ball into a bucket or riding with a wheel in one hand. Children of this age usually have the physical and mental ability to follow the teacher’s instructions and ride independently. Of course, much depends on the level of development of the child – balance, coordination and concentration. Slightly older children can be enrolled in a riding camp. This is a great way to improve skills and meet new people.
How do I know if my child is ready for horseback riding?
Every parent should realize that the right time to start horseback riding is not only a matter of the child’s age. Physical and mental readiness, willingness to ride and health are equally important. When it comes to mental readiness, it includes, but is not limited to, the ability to concentrate, understand instructions, and follow instructions. Make sure that your child is aware of the fact that you should not approach horses from behind or make sudden movements and sounds around them. As for physical readiness, it is balance, height and coordination. The toddler must have muscles strong enough to be able to maintain the correct position in the saddle. No less important are neck muscles strong enough to hold a helmet. It is better to sign up a child for horse riding a little later than too early. Each of them develops at a slightly different pace.
The main benefits of horseback riding for children
Why should you consider enrolling your child in horseback riding lessons? Horseback riding effectively develops balance and body coordination. While riding a horse the muscles of the legs, arms, back and abdomen are worked. The bilateral exertion of the body translates into coordination of the brain hemispheres. This type of activity is a proven way to improve metabolism and liver function. Horses are very good in treatment of various diseases, such as cerebral palsy, diabetes or psychomotor retardation. Children riding on horseback face different kinds of challenges during each activity, which require effort and systematic work to overcome. In this way, they develop confidence in themselves and their own abilities. Additionally, they learn perseverance, which can be extremely helpful in adult life. Horses are animals which allow shaping the character of a child. We are talking about such qualities as caring, concern, respect or striving for a goal.
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