If your child has been begging you to let them take horse riding lessons, you’re probably wondering whether it’s going to be a good investment. We know, we know — it doesn’t come cheap. That said, it might be well worth looking into. This post is all about the benefits of horse riding for kids.
In short, horse riding is great for kids. It offers a host of both mental and physical health benefits and teaches crucial life and social skills.
If they have the opportunity to help care for a horse at the same time, whether that’s their own horse or by helping out at a riding school or stables — even better.
It’s very natural for parents to worry about letting their child get up on an animal the size of a horse, especially if you’re brand new to it all.
You may be wondering how horse riding and horse care can be beneficial to your child’s development.
Let’s explore why horse riding and being involved in horse care is a wonderful opportunity for children.
If your child is involved in horse riding and horse care, they will undoubtedly gain a strong sense of responsibility.
Teaching children responsibility by having them care for rabbits, goldfish or hamsters is one thing. Horse care is on another level altogether in terms of responsibility.
If your child is learning to ride, they will learn how to be safe and responsible riders. They will learn skills like road awareness, mounting and dismounting safely and how to correctly approach and put tack on horses.
Kids can also learn responsibility from the ground. Horses, of course, need food, an ample supply of clean water and a clean and safe living environment.
Learning how to look after a horse is very effective in teaching kids how to be responsible for something other than themselves.
Many young equestrians no doubt grow into mature, responsible young adults thanks to the skills they picked up at a young age.
#2: Develop Empathy
This one is linked pretty closely with the first point. When children learn to be responsible for something outside of themselves, they develop a stronger sense of empathy.
Many children build a strong bond with the horse in their care. As they learn skills for taking care of a horse, their sense of compassion naturally develops along with those skills.
They instinctively want to make sure their horse is okay and a desire to take care of the horse’s needs becomes ingrained.
When they learn to ride, they also learn how to make horses feel calmer and more comfortable. They build awareness by getting to understand the horse’s body language and movements.
This can be a good way to teach children how to be aware of the feelings of others, animals, and humans alike.
#3: Build Social Skills
Riding horses often involves being part of a wider horse community. Your child will get to experience this, which is fantastic for developing their social skills.
If your child is taking part in riding lessons, they will likely be doing them alongside other children. This is a great opportunity for kids to build their social skills around other children with the same passion for horses.
Being part of a horse community means kids will interact with people of all age groups. If your child is a little shy around people, this could be a great way to help them feel more at ease as they will be around positive, like-minded individuals.
#4: Develop Motor Skills
When learning to ride, children perform a variety of tasks beneficial to fine motor skills development. In particular, equestrians learn good coordination, which largely contributes to this development.
One study found that horse riding can help children with autism, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders to develop their motor skills.
The study also notes that many parents and caregivers mentioned an improvement in their children’s academic and social lives.
#5. Better Physical Health
Horse riding has a number of physical health benefits — a very important one being improved cardiovascular health. Although it may look easy, horse riding takes a great deal of effort.
As a result, the heart gets pumping, blood oxygen levels increase and your circulation improves. This means that the organs can function better as they’re receiving adequate blood and oxygen supply.
Horse riding is also a fantastic calorie-burner. Doctor Dennis Sigler and a team of researchers found that 45 minutes spent riding a horse can burn up to 200 calories.
Another study showed that taking part in horsemanship activities was beneficial for children with weight issues.
Katy Schroeder, Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science said that the program was designed to be a fun way to improve children’s confidence and self-esteem.
The horse-related activities served as a form of motivation for the children taking part, according to Schroeder. The overall results showed that both participants experienced a decrease in fat mass and an increase in lean mass.
Muscle toning is another health benefit for equestrians, particularly the core and leg muscles. This helps to build overall strength.
#6. Develop Confidence
Developing confidence is a hugely important part of a child’s early life. Horse riding is a great way to helps kids feel more confident and capable.
If you think about it, it takes a lot of courage for a young child to mount an animal much larger and stronger than they are.
In the horse-human pairing, the horse looks to the human for leadership. The person riding has to learn to signal to their horse and give cues as to what they want the horse to do.
For a child, being able to do this instills a sense of leadership. This helps their confidence to grow as they are able to view themselves as capable young people and feel proud of their achievements.
#7: Stronger Cognitive Skills
Studies have found that horse riding can result in stronger cognitive abilities in children. According to Doctor Mitsuaki Ohta of Tokyo University of Agriculture.
The vibrations produced by the horse’s movements activate parts of the sympathetic nervous system in humans.
Participants in the study did well in behavioral tests, which were designed to check for appropriate responses to different situations.
A lot of skills learned through riding are problem-solving skills, so the brain is consistently getting a workout as well as the body.
#8: Better Mental Health
If a child is going through a stressful period, horse riding could help. Horse riding has been linked to reduced levels of stress for several reasons.
Due to the effort involved in horse riding and horse care. These activities are great for getting kids focused and distracting them from their anxieties about other areas of their lives.
If a child is feeling anxious or angry, horse-related activities provide a means to burn off excess energy in a positive and safe way.
Additionally, building bonds with the horses they ride. The horse community they’re surrounded by can help children feel less isolated.
#9: Learn Discipline
What better way to become a more disciplined, balanced young person than taking up horse riding?
You learn how to follow horse care routines and become involved in all aspects of a horse’s upkeep. Some of these tasks are not the most fun.
Think mucking out a stable on a Saturday morning or when you’re tired after school. However, they’re humbling and help instill a sense of discipline.
#10: A Sense of Reward
It’s hugely important for children to feel that they’re working towards something and to feel a sense of accomplishment. Riding and looking after a horse is sure to give them these important feelings.
Children involved with horses are learning new skills all the time. Every time a child learns how to do something new, they can feel a sense of reward from putting their new skills into practice.
This sense of regularly achieving and working towards new goals is crucial for giving children the sense of consistency and confidence that they need.
Benefits of Horse Riding for Kids: Sum-Up
- Horse riding is great for children’s physical and mental health. Exercising on a regular basis helps reduce stress and comes with a host of physical benefits like improved cardiovascular health, posture, coordination and weight control.
- Children involved with horses also learn and put to use life skills on a daily basis. They learn all about safety, being responsible and develop a sense of discipline.
- Studies have shown that horse riding improves children’s cognitive abilities. It teaches them how to problem-solve and appropriately respond to challenging situations.
- Riding and taking care of horses helps children to build confidence and consistently gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Benefits of Horse Riding for Kids: Final Thoughts
Above all, horse riding is fun! If riding and caring for a horse brings joy and happiness to a child’s life, the positive effects will spill over to many other areas of their lives.
Don’t forget to check out our recent article on the health benefits of horse riding if you’re interested in learning more on this topic.
Last thing: if you do decide to put your child in riding lessons, always make sure you’re going with a reputable riding school or trainer.
It might be a good idea to check out riding schools’ websites to get an idea of what they’re about and read reviews. This can help put your mind at ease if you still have concerns about safety or anything else.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful and, as always, thanks for stopping by at Simple Horse Life!