Horse Riding for Toddlers – A Short Guide

Do you have a toddler who wants to follow you in horse riding? Kids, these days, are always ready to try out new things and learn by following and observing their parents. Riding a horse is a thrilling experience that toddlers should never be deprived of.

My wife has always been an overprotective parent who only allowed our older kids to do things like horse riding after the age of 5. My toddler has grown up watching me and my daughters (who have reached the age that they can ride a horse alone) riding a horse on weekends. Last weekend, when we were riding the horse, as usual, he with his broken words tried to tell me that he wants to try horse riding as well.

The inner overprotective parent warned me to not let him accompany his sisters as he is too young to understand the dos and don’ts of horse riding. So, I didn’t allow him but that look he gave me when I forcefully tried to stop him kept haunting me for days. 

After avoiding it for days, I reached a point that I couldn’t deprive him of this joyful experience just because he is young. The weekend was approaching again, so I began researching how I can make horse riding safer for my toddler? Can a kid between the age of 1 to 3 ride horses? And everything I need to know about horse riding with toddlers.

My research made it clear to me that toddlers can enjoy horse riding as well but the parents have to be a little careful. So, for those overprotective parents out there, Toddlers can accompany you in horse riding.

To make horse riding easier and less stressful for you I’m here with a guide. We are also going to discuss everything you need to know about horse riding. Before moving ahead let’s just answer the simple question that came to my mind when my toddler wanted a ride.

Can toddlers enjoy horse riding?

Yes, toddlers can enjoy horse riding but only under proper supervision. They can either sit with elders or the supervisor can walk with the horse to make sure the kid is safe.

Do toddlers like horse riding?

It depends on the first experience. If the first experience is joyful, the chances are high that they will like to enjoy riding in the future but if the first experience is frightening, they are never going to ask again.

Toddlers can not independently ride horses

The kids between the age of one to three years are still developing the senses so it’s impossible for them to ride independently. However, toddlers can enjoy safer joyful rides with a companion or professional rider.

The kid should at least be 3 

One to three years olds are generally referred to as toddlers. A kid below the age of three is too young for horse riding, so they should not be taken on a ride. However, the kids that have reached the age of three can go on horse riding, as they can understand and follow the supervisor’s instructions.

Toddlers and kids below the age of six can ride

Just because toddlers and kids below the age of six can ride horses doesn’t mean they should. Horse riding is beneficial in the sense that it teaches the kids about teamwork and a sense of responsibility but the benefits should be put aside as the balance, muscle coordination, attention span, and skeleton have not developed yet.

Get the toddlers trained for horse riding

If the toddlers are fond of horse riding or seem to enjoy the first short ride it’s better to get them trained from a school or institution. Such institutions also give guidelines to the supervisors/parents to make horse riding a recreational activity. 

Even if it appears appealing, horse riding is not fun for the toddlers

Kids get excited to try out new things, there are 100 percent chances that they are going to be attracted by the sight. Since they don’t know how to balance it out and how can they stay focused, these two reasons make horse riding not-so-fun!

So, it’s now clear that toddlers can ride horses (under strict supervision) but they should not ride as their muscle coordination and attention span are not fully developed for this purpose. You must be curious about what happened when my toddler took his first ride. So, here how it went.

He got so excited when I nodded yes to his innocent request. He excitedly sat over the horse’s back. As I, at that time, was quite naive to allow a toddler for horse riding alone so I decided to accompany him. We kept our horse ride slow and short. It was joyful for him and he has started liking horse riding even more now.

Do toddlers like horse riding

Would I allow toddlers to ride again?

Well, the answer is yes and sometimes I would avoid taking him with us because he should wait until he gets six. Just because the first ride was fun that doesn’t guarantee us that all rides would be.

The first rides are usually less-problematic as the kids are usually scared that if they fall, they will surely get hurt. Once it becomes a daily, weekly, or monthly ritual, the fear goes away then the horse riding can be dangerous. So, I would not invite him on our weekend rides, I would prefer to let him wait for it for months until he reaches six.

The story and the few important facts are now clear to you. Let’s discuss how to get it started

Everything about horse riding for toddlers

First of all, for those who skip the whole above part to come straight to the guide, toddlers should never be allowed to ride. The experts in equestrian centers strongly condemn the idea of allowing toddlers to do horse riding (even under strict supervision) and the lower age limit for them is six years.

The reason why they allow six-year-olds for horse riding is that at this age the sense of awareness is fully developed and learning the dos and don’ts of horse riding is not difficult anymore. The kids of this age can quickly learn how to balance themselves out on the horseback, so horse riding would only be fun.

It’s better to start with a smaller horse 

A fully grown horse is difficult to handle with toddlers who are always full of energy and rarely likes to sit in peace. So, for the supervisor and kid’s ease, a pony or a horse between the age of two-three years is a fine option. 

The horse must be trained to walk slow

The kid’s horse riding is a little different from adult horse riding. Toddlers or kids above the age of three years can not cope with the pace horses normally have while giving rides to the adults so make sure the horse is trained to be gentle with the toddlers.

Shetland pony is more toddler-friendly than any other horse

Shetland pony is a popular horse breed that is known for giving joyful rides to kids, pulling carts, and carrying peats. The reason why we call shetland pony a kid-friendly horse is that the maximum height it reaches is 107cm. Their gentle and even-tempered nature makes them a considerable option for toddler horse riding.

Read more about How Much Weight can a Shetland Pony Carry?

Can-toddlers-enjoy-horse-riding

Do not let them ride independently at all

A three-year-old may find it hard to put a balanced leg pressure or weight distribution, which are the key to safer horse rides, so to balance it all you should either ride or walk along holding the horse.

Set the stopwatch to 10 or Maximum at 15 minutes

As per researchers and experts, kids can not keep their focus on the same thing for more than 15 to 20 minutes. As long as they are focused, the ride would be less problematic, but as they see something more interesting or appealing, consider it a time to get off the horse. So, for your and your kid’s safety, set the timer to 10 or 15 minutes, take them off even if they show interest to ride more.

Half knowledge is harmful, as you now know how to be careful, it would not be fair to wind this discussion up without discussing it’s benefits. So let’s have a look at how horse riding can be beneficial for the kids;

It teaches them a sense of responsibility

The kids of this era usually lack a sense of responsibility, so if something with being fun, teaches them the most important lesson then what’s the harm? Moreover, it teaches them to stay concentrated and fully present at the moment.

It’s a great physical activity

The kids mostly spend their time indoors playing games and watching cartoons which are not healthy. Horse riding gets them out of their bubble and does something good for their soul and body.

It helps in developing a better relationship with animals

If humans are a victim of abuse so are the animals. They have been tortured almost in every part of the world. Horse riding helps the kids in developing a better relationship with animals. It teaches them that animals do deserve love and respect.

Horse riding improves strength and tones muscles

This high-demanding physical exercise assists in improving strength and toning muscles. It’s an excellent weight lifting training as well, today’s heavy saddle lifters can lift heavier weights in the future.

Horse riding is rewarding in all senses but when one knows how to do it correctly. Most of your queries must have been solved by now. It’s time to answer the most Googled questions about this topic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I allow my toddler for horse riding?

Toddlers can be allowed to ride once in a while but only under strict supervision. Frequent horse riding is not recommended as they have not fully developed the horse riding qualities yet.

Which horse breed is good for the kids?

Sadly, it’s impossible to suggest which horse breed is safer for kids but shetland pony is usually recommended because of their friendly temperament and size. 

What is the ideal age of horse riding?

For kids, the ideal age suggested by the equestrian center is six whereas adults of all ages can join a horse riding for fun and physical exercise as long as they have the strength. 

How can I teach my kids horse riding?

Horse riding for kids is different from adults and parents or siblings may not be a good teacher. It’s better to get the skill developed from a professional. The equestrian centers can only teach what your kids need to know about horse riding.

Is horse riding good for physical health?

Horse riding is good for both mental and physical health. It promotes physical health by keeping the horse rider active and improves mental health by forcing the rider to stay focused on the current situation. Moreover, it aids in boosting strength and toning muscles. 

Summary

Toddlers can ride the horse under supervision but it is not “really” recommended as their senses are yet to be developed. If you want your kids to enjoy horse riding anyway, make sure you accompany them, keep the riding time limited to 10 or 15 minutes, choose the best horse breed that is gentle and friendly, and more importantly get them trained from the equestrian Centers.

Horse riding is healthy as it is a great physical exercise that helps in toning the muscles and improving strength. The kids above the age of six should go for horse riding once in a while as it assists them in developing a sense of responsibility and staying focused.

Lastly, as this is a sensitive topic, I would suggest going for professional help.  I’m not a professional and have never handled kids professionally on horses, the views that you can see above are based on my experience and research, and knowledge so it can be faulty. Be the critic at least for this sensitive topic and dig a little deeper for your kids’ safety.

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