Children and horses
How do we teach our children how to handle horses?
If you love horses yourself and have children, there is a good chance that they will come into contact with horses early and possibly develop just as much passion as you do. But even if children come up with it all by themselves, as a parent you will quickly be faced with the question of how best to teach your child about horses. Because unlike many other hobbies, horses are not available just like that.
Horses are expensive and need a lot of care and attention. You can't just put them in a closet when you're done with them. Owning a horse is a lifelong commitment (which can take quite a bit of 30 years).
And who assures you that your child will always be interested?
As a horse owner, you have to give a lot of yourself and be able to guide your child yourself.
And if you’re not a horse owner?
There are riding schools for that,… right?
When dealing with horses, children have a lot to learn, because they are rather large animals - and the equestrian sport is not a piece of cake. The subject of safety is therefore also a major requirement of parents. The horses must be reliable and allow inexperienced children and be able to forgive them. And the children must have fun, because lessons at a riding school are not cheap either.
In addition to the demands of the parents and the children, lessons must also pay off, because a riding school is also a business and instructors, stables, hay and accessories must be paid, too.
Can all these requirements be met at all? If you once ask this question in the horse world, you will quickly hear "it won't make you rich". It's just getting by.
And whose needs are often forgotten are those of the horses themselves. They are the weakest link. A horse that falls out is lost money. A horse that says "no" is not suitable.
But is anyone to blame for this? The instructors? The parents?
No. They do their utmost to fulfill needs.
I speak here from the position and experience as a mother and stable worker.
There’s something fundamentally wrong in this world.
How we see horses determines how we teach our children about horses.
Generally speaking (not about someone's personal vision) we still see horses as sport equipment. We see the big names jumping over high obstacles on expensive horses or walking beautiful figures on television. These horses function. They do what the rider says. But how it got this far takes place behind the scenes. We hardly see horses saying “no“, or expressing themselves.
We want our kids to be able to have a beautiful experience just as the riders in the public. And from the old times we have that inner belief that you have to “push” horses and “go through”, show them “who's boss”. The dominance theory runs deep in our subconscious mind.
This “functioning” of horses is therefore what we expect from riding schools. With the lowest possible price. My child comes for this one hour and expects a lesson. And I pay by the month and expect progress. And the instructors try to live up to the expectation. Sometimes they must overlook saddle sourness and wounded mouths. And if that horse does not want to walk, then he has to learn, with a whip. Eventually pressure tends to escalate.
I don't think that works with live animals. There has to be a different approach.
If your a parent and you are tackling this issues, please, don’t give into the easy way. Because the easy way too often means a sacrifice for the weakest link.
It’s hard, I know. But we can do better. We can build better. For the horses and our children. Teach them right from the beginning.
I am more than willing to help you brainstorm and look for other options and what's possible in your area. If you have any other idea how we could built something together fell free to reach out! Let's connect and join forces to make a difference!