Today, I’ve got an amazing guest post to offer you. My friend Lindsey, who blogs over at Alta Mira Horsemanship, has written a post about the many benefits kids gain from growing up around horses. Enjoy!
Fraught with anticipation, I sat in the backseat of my mom’s S.U.V. with new boots on my feet and
holding my roller-skating helmet in my lap. I was five years old and on my way to my first horseback
riding lesson. The afternoon was perfectly warm and golden, and the air smelled of oak and pine. My
mom and I met the trainer and she led us to Shadow: a big, beautiful horse with cherry-oak colored fur
and a jet-black mane and tail. A stirring of wonder awoke in my heart as I ran my hands across his belly
and felt his warm breath greeting me. Up on his back, I felt no fear—I was invincible.
After that day, I waited longingly for the next time I could ride him. Every few months over the course
of two years, I had my sweet, hour-long ride with Shadow. It was an outing that my mom and I
cherished together. As I got a little older, she would take me to weekly lessons closer to our house,
where she would beam with pride as I learned the ins-and-outs of horsemanship, fell off and got back on
again, and rejoiced over reaching new feats.
There is something magical about animals in the ways they reach children. Horses, in particular, have a
way of reaching into the hearts of the most timid and adventurous children alike, because they possess
a unique combination of strength and sensitivity. Learning to ride them is a wonderful way to foster
responsibility, curiosity, kindness, and tenacity in children. They teach children how to overcome fear
and to strive for more than pleasing their peers. Furthermore, horseback riding is conducive to family
time, memory-making, and staying active together. Here are some reasons why I think all moms should
consider horse time for their children.
1) Horses Instill Responsibility
Horses require an enormous amount of care. Before riding, your child will need to groom them, check
and clean their hooves, and put on their saddle and bridle. As they learn more about horse care, they
will know how to look for injury, overall health and well-being, and potential hazards in their riding
environment. Horses also need to be fed, given water, and cleaned up after. If time permits, let your
child arrive early or stay late for these activities.
This will not only demonstrate how much care goes into being responsible for another being, but it is
also excellent exercise. They will internalize a work ethic that is met with a clear and valuable reward.
Horses take discipline to work with, and your child will learn how to set and accomplish goals.
2) Horses Nurture Curiosity
Nothing is cut and dry with horses. Your child will be able to learn common behaviors and ways to
communicate with them. However, every horse they encounter will be unique, in the same way that
your child is unique! They will learn that diverse personalities and backgrounds will require differing
approaches. To figure out each horse, they will need to be curious, ask questions, and think outside of
the box. This teaches them the best kind of problem-solving: the kind that works towards the well-being
of another creature.
When facing new situations outside of the barn, your child will likely feel empowered to go outside of
their comfort zone to solve puzzles, to get to know someone different than them, and to try new things.
This fosters a spirit of adventure and delight in the unknown, as opposed to fear and anxiety.
3) Horses Teach Children to be Kind
Horses are, if nothing else, intuitive creatures that respond to contact. They can pick up on their
handler’s attitude, body language, emotions, and intentions. To have the best experience with horses,
the child needs to act in the horse’s best interest. They need to approach even difficult horses from a
place of kindness. In doing so, they will see the clear reward from being kind, not just with the horses,
but with people as well.
4) Horseback Riding Invokes Tenacity
Your child will hit plateaus and roadblocks in their learning process. Horses aren’t always easy, but if
they love being around them, it will be worth pushing past these hiccups. The depth of enjoyment in
this activity will come from the difficulties they work through. The victories that they get by fighting for
them will reinforce the tenet that hard work truly pays off, and that tenacity often goes farther than
talent. Furthermore, they pursue more than just accomplishment: they work towards a connection.
And what is life if not meaningful interaction?
5) Barn Time is Great Family Time
Your child’s time at the barn doesn’t have to be solo by any means. The best barn experiences happen
with family. You can take part in the learning too! Stay healthy together by helping them clean stalls, fill
water buckets, and groom their horse. They will learn that many hands make light work and that it
feels good to stay active.
Take delight in what they take delight in at the barn. The ground is rich with life-giving soil; help them
grow the principles they learn at the barn to other areas of their life. This is time that you will cherish with
your kids. You will see them grow before your eyes and make memories that last their whole lives. To
this day, I remember spending hours with my mom at the barn, because it was the one day a week that I
could count on us spending time together, attention undivided.
Over twenty years later, horses are still a huge part of my life. Horses meant so much to me when I was
young that I have carried these lessons with me to adulthood and have become stronger in my
relationships and work ethic. And my heart has grown bigger because of it. As a child ages and goes
through different phases with school, puberty, friend group changes, and social pressures, time at the
barn provides a refuge where they can focus on caring for another being. They will always have a great
teacher in the horse, and the best of listeners. They will continue to see that discipline, kindness, and
perseverance always works out for the better.
About the Author
Lindsey Rains is an equestrian blogger and creator of altamirahorsemanship.com. She
focuses on communication between horses and handlers, with an emphasis on kind training tactics. She
resides in Auburn, WA, USA, with her husband, and daylights as a non-profit administrator. When she is
not working or training, you can find her riding deep in the forests and meadows of Washington with her
Connect with Lindsey on
– Her blog
How do you feel about raising your kids around horses? Did you grow up with horses? Please share this post with all your friends!