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Question for Horse People


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#1 kpingitquiet

Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:59 PM

I was wondering what age most long-time horseback riders started with general exposure and guided learning? If you grew up with horses at home, when did your parents start to encourage riding?

Our daughter loves horses (all animals, really) and being outdoors, enjoys the dirt and dust, laughs when she falls down and then does it a few more times for fun, and just in general would likely be a very happy country girl. Alas, we live in suburbia with a view to moving to even more urban places. I look at the connection my half-sister has with horses and think that could be something very valuable for kiddo.

I remember going for rides from around 4 or 5yo onward but it was only occasional and not something my parents encouraged, so I'm not sure if 3 or 4yo would be too young for introduction to ponies, perhaps? Should we wait to see if she asks for lessons when she's much older or just go with our instinct that it's something she might grow up enjoying? What way would/did you go about it? Advice and warnings much needed! original.gif Thanks in advance.

#2 The Falcon

Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:03 PM

My 3 year old has been on many a led pony ride and loves it. I think her first time on a horse was before she was 2.

A friend of mine bought her (very spoilt, though that is irrelevant) a pony for her 3rd birthday, and this little girl is now 4 and capable of riding and jumping on her own.

#3 LovingTheBeach

Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:15 PM

As a child, I started lessons at 5 after begging my parents for many months. Mum got right into it as well and we both did lessons together and went from there! Over the years we had various ponies/horses and my much younger brothers learnt to ride our shetland pony from about 2 or 3 years. 3 is certainly not to young, so long as the pony is suitable. Perhaps start out by ringing a local stable that offers lessons, or ask at a Saddleword shop (or your local equivalent) if they can recommend someone that offers lessons. It was my instructer that came with us to look at potential ponies/horses to purchase before Mum and I (Dad just drove the float) were confident enough on our own, first time we did it ourselves ended badly, so just be wary of purchasing a pony without having  someone experienced there with you. Hope this is helpful!

#4 *LucyE*

Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

I'm not a horse person.  My 6 yr old DD is mad about them.

She has been on pony rides since she was just under 2 yrs old.  This year she has just started proper lessons.  Her instructor normally doesn't take children under the age of 7/8yrs depending on maturity.  Prior to that age, her instructor suggests led pony rides for fun.

We will probably never have our own horse because I don't want the responsibility of them.  Yes, I'm sure as DD gets older, she will feed, exercise and groom the horse but it ties us down when I want to travel too.  At the moment, the stables she rides at is great and the students get to know the horses and some of the girls have favourites that they choose to ride regularly.  Others like to change and swap around.  Having that option is great.  I'm also happy that DD is learning the mucky bits associated with keeping a horse without my involvement wink.gif

#5 Lickety Split

Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:58 PM

I got my first pony at 10 but was begging for one from about the age of 5. My DD is 3 and we have a mini on lease for her. I lead her around on said pony 2-3 times a week (less now as I'm 40+4 pregnant) and she enjoys brushing the pony and learning how to saddle her etc. We are going to join the local pony club too, which will be one morning a month until DD gets bigger and more confident, then she'll do a full day.

#6 Feral Grey Mare

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:07 PM

Warning, warning, warning...... Actively discourage your child from any involvement with horses !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding. Our daughter was obsessed with them from about 3 onwards. Neither DH nor I have any sort of horse background. We started with occasional lessons at a local riding school when she was about 6. The kids didn;t just ride, they had to catch, saddle, groom, wash and feed the ponies too. From about 9 we leased a pony which she had to care for completely and (vainly hoping she would lose interest) gave in and bought a pony when she was 11. She is now on her third horse (16.2 hh thoroughbred ex racehorse). It can be an expensive pastime but has taught her so much. At 18 she now works full time at the local racetrack and still rides at Pony club once a month.

#7 happening

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:08 PM



I grew up in the country.  My parents purchased my first horse on my first birthday, and I do not remember not riding.

Having said that, please be very careful.  Although it's lots of fun and promotes confidence and  responsibility. horseriding is an inherently dangerous activity.



#8 Wanalta

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:09 PM

DD began lessons at 4.5 yrs however she had grown up around my horse, watching me groom, feed, clean up paddocks etc so she understood that horses are not just for 'riding' but come with a great deal of responsibility.

Its only now, at 7.5yrs that I am taking a pony on trial to see if the pont suits her and if she suits the pony. DD has shown enormous interest in learning about horse care mananagement, she is learning natural horsemanship and seeks to understand the mind of the horse and sees the horse as entire being to create a relationship with, not just a riding machine. That tells me she is ready to own her own horse.

It helps that we live in the country though original.gif seriously doubt if either of us would own a horse if we lived in a major city as the costs would be far greater.

#9 Tikiboo16

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:15 PM

I got my first horse when I was a teenager... I begged my Mum since I was about 8 to let me have one and finally she caved. It was great, I had fun, and learnt a lot about responsibility, but I wouldn't buy one for myself now as they just take up sooo much time.

DD is 2.5 and she seems to have a bit of an interest already... she loves patting the horses down the road, and is always riding her rocking horse. I plan to start giving her a few pony rides when she is 3, but I won't let her on a pony at all until then. I don't think I'll let her ride on her own until 5 at least, and if she's interested in having her own horse when she's 7-8, we might look at it then. I had several nasty injuries from unpredictable horses and I want to make sure DD is able to understand this before she goes riding off into the sunset IYKWIM. A fall from a horse is much more painful (and scary) than a toddler crash in the dirt.

Having said that.. I think it's a wonderful thing for a kid to get into, and I would be chuffed if DD enjoyed it as much as I do.

ETA: I lived in a smaller city when I had a horse. It was suburbia but not a major city. I now would only consider another horse if we had plenty of space to ride around.. streets don't really cut it. It's still possible to find this in suburbia, but the country would be far more ideal.

Edited by Tikiboo16, 20 February 2013 - 02:19 PM.


#10 Flaxen

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:21 PM

I loved horses from an early age, as did my mother who never owned one herself.
I had few pony rides as a very young child, mostly just got my interest from the horse paddocked next door.
I started lessons at 6yo, and got a pony on lease at 11yo, and mum bought me one at 13yo, and i kept him 15 years until he was sadly put to sleep last year.

I will be getting my DD a pony in a year or 2, she is 2yo now, and it will be when we move to our new house which is getting built on acres at the moment. Yes, its young fo get her a pony, but if i did not have extensive horse knowledge already i wouldnt be contemplating it. Theres a lot to learn!
Lessons once a week is definatley satisfactory until the age of 10 or 12yo, which is when most girls with non horsey familys finally take the plunge.
If you can ride several times a week aside from your regular lesson, getting your own horse is worthwhile, but for your situation OP i would stick to lessons at a riding school for a few years until you know how interested your DD actually is.
Over my years of horse ownership, holidays have never been a problem, ive always found someone to happily look after my horses for me.

ETA: Most Riding schools would not take children under 5/6, so maybe that will decide it for you. When choosing a riding school, dont go for the cheapest one, or the most exxy, look for one that has friendly and helpful staff, the grounds look to be well maintained, well kept horses which are brushed and look healthy, and one that uses quality tack (saddles bridles) They Do Exist!
There are lots of schools that give the rest a bad name and these have obnoxious staff, poorly kept horses which show an obvious lack of care, and remember- badly maintained tack is dangeous, its not just cosmetic!  So just keep looking if this is what you are finding!
If you are in Victoria i may be able to recommend a few if you like.

Edited by Flaxen, 20 February 2013 - 02:40 PM.


#11 FeralCrazyMum

Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:25 PM

A friend of ours runs a horse riding school and Josh went on his first horse ride just before he was 2yo (with me sitting on the horse with him). By the time he was four he could ride a horse around the paddock without a lead rein (obviously a very placid horse).



#12 kpingitquiet

Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:08 PM

Thanks for sharing! Kiddo is just over 2yo so I think we'll try to look at finding a place where she can ride a led pony and see the stables between now and her next birthday. I know it's an incredibly dangerous, and very rewarding hobby/sport/lifestyle so I'm a little bit more careful with my research than I would be for, say, music lessons biggrin.gif

We're lucky in one way that she has a lot of respect and awareness of big, kind-but-unpredictable animals as we have two dogs who could nearly qualify as small ponies, and she has always listened carefully and obeyed their limits. She also loves walking out to see/pat the horses that live adjacent to FIL's land. I guess we'll see how she goes with an initial few pony rides!

If anyone has any recommendations for schools or centers near Adelaide, I'd love to have them. Thanks again!

#13 Cantankerous

Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:17 PM

My dd is almost 5 she has her own pony which she feeds brushes and rides under supervision. Her pony is kept at the same paddock my horse is at. She knows its not just riding but general stuff too she does pony club shows and general riding. If your not horsey then start at a local riding school see how she goes she will need boots and helmet ( please buy your own instead of using schools) never know if they have had a accident or not. At 2 yr old its probably not worth it DD has been around them since birth her rocking horse got a worked out but about 3.5 was her first real riding before that was the occasions sitting on a pony.

#14 JRA

Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:00 PM

Never too early.

I have photos of my at pony club camp at about 4 on dear old Bluebell.

But we had horses at home everywhere, so I was sitting in front of dad as a "baby" and just moved on from there.



#15 raven74

Posted 20 February 2013 - 05:18 PM

Due to insurance issues you'll have a hard time finding a place for anything other than a 5 minute led pony ride (like they have at royal and agricultural shows, parties etc) - riding establishments definitely won't do it.

#16 *LucyE*

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:17 PM

QUOTE
Lessons once a week is definatley satisfactory until the age of 10 or 12yo, which is when most girls with non horsey familys finally take the plunge.

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!  tongue.gif

That's what we've seen too based on people we know. Sigh. I was really hoping we wouldn't go down that path. My FIL was a rider and has been talking about buying the kids a pony since the first was a new born. Every so often, he threatens to turn up with a pony on our door step.  Out of all the grand kids, only DD has been genuinely interested so far. She has these grand dreams of where we would keep it, how we could re-fence to create a suitable paddock etc. I like my sprawling garden dammit!

#17 Indi

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:52 PM

I ride and my 3 daughters (9, 6 and 5) have their own ponies and attend pony club.

BUT as a non horsey family with a young child I wouldn't be doing lesson until the age of 6/7.  Before this they don't really get a lot out of it.  Different story if you have your own property and the kids have always been around horses but in your situation there is plenty of time.

#18 Indi

Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:52 PM

I ride and my 3 daughters (9, 6 and 5) have their own ponies and attend pony club.

BUT as a non horsey family with a young child I wouldn't be doing lesson until the age of 6/7.  Before this they don't really get a lot out of it.  Different story if you have your own property and the kids have always been around horses but in your situation there is plenty of time.

#19 Erma Gerd

Posted 20 February 2013 - 09:04 PM

My kids have been on horses since about 18 months (we have horses ourselves and got a leadline pony when the eldest was a toddler), but my eldest didn't start pony club until he was 4yo and weekly lessons at 5yo. My 3yo would like to start PC/lessons this year but I think she might be too young.

I agree with PP that if you have access to horses, it is a good idea to get the kids out and learning about horses, handling, safety etc early on, but it's probably best to wait until at least 5-6yo before starting formal lessons.

Be warned: EXPENSIVE recreational activity! And if they get really into it, very time consuming, lots of travel and early mornings and did I mention expensive?

#20 kpingitquiet

Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:36 AM

Yep, I know about the expense from my sister. She didn't show but she bought/rehabbed/sold horses for most of her teen years and some as an adult. So I guess you could say we're a semi-horsey family? I grew up part-time on a farm so have helped with tending horses and cattle for the landlord and my grandpa and did occasional recreational trail rides. Truth is, I think it's something I could get easily into myself!

I just want her to have the chance to try more than just the standard ballet/instrument/swimming routine most kids are exposed to. The horse-people I know get such joy and peace even from the yuckiest jobs involving their horses and I'd be willing to bear the expense if it meant she could grow up having something she loved to do. A couple weeks ago, we were driving around the hills and she made us stop the car because she saw horses in a field, then spent the next 10 mins talking to them, so that's what put the idea in my head (that and the enthusiastic use her rocking elephant gets!)

Obviously, we wouldn't consider buying a horse until we are permanently settled, somewhere, and if my job required us to be too urban we'd have to think long and hard about buying a horse or pony just to have them stabled somewhere else. Definitely not at that stage, yet! I think we'll keep an eye out at the autumn markets and festivals for toddler pony rides and see how she does, and we can plan some farmstays where she (and we!) can experience some of the work involved, then maybe start proper lessons at 6/7 or so if her interest holds.

Thanks for all your words of wisdom!




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