That First Ride

IMG_9785I took my kids out for their first ride last week. I hadn’t been in the saddle for years, but it was great to see the little guys up on the horse and enjoying the experience in a safe environment. They rode English saddles common in the area we live and did a few circuits around the track with the stable hand taking them around by the reigns. The horses at the popular breakfast location and riding school are very tame and well kept, they seem quite docile around children and are not easily spooked in general which is what you want in a horse when considering putting your kids on it.

I’ve had too many friends who have either lost children or had them seriously injured while riding horses that were either too large or not ridden enough before putting kids on them. The school we visited will sign up at the youngest a seven-year-old, but I remember taking my first solo ride at about the same age and with no formal training. At twelve I remember going on my first trail trip and at fifteen I remember riding my first bronco. Boy, did he scare the crap out of me.

So you may ask yourself, “when is it time to let my kids up in the saddle?” The answer varies based on the maturity of your horse/pony and the maturity of your child. Make sure:

  • Proper equipment is in use
    • helmet
    • safety vest
    • boots
    • jeans
  • Your equipment is in good condition
    • tack – saddle, stirrups, rein, etc
  • You’re not creating bad habits:
    • ease your horse in and out of speed
    • make sure horse is frequently ridden
    • ride in groups – safety in numbers
    • obey your instructor unwaveringly
    • show aptitude for learning and wisdom in knowing when to emergency dismount

These are just a few guidelines if you’re looking for something all inclusive try visiting your local stables. Horse riding is a very dangerous sport and although there is a great thrill to mounting one of these amazing animals you are taking a great risk riding one and an even greater risk if you are not fully informed of the dangers ahead of time. I still think back to my first gallop with an English saddle after years of using a Western Saddle and think of how scared I was when it seemed the saddle was not properly fastened. Sliding off the horse and trying to ease a rather unruly horse back into an amble was terrifying. Thankfully I had the presence of mind and a good group of friends to help keep the horse in check and not have to emergency dismount Durango (or deranged-o as I like to think of him) There’s so much more that could be said but for now ride safe and keep your kids from harm on the trails of life and when at the stables.

If you’re looking for more tips then there are some great Youtube resources and you can always check out my compiled “how to” collection on our How To page. You can find those links in our main menu or linked here in this post.