How to Prepare Your Child for Their First Horse Riding Lesson

Selecting the Right Riding School

Certified Instructors

When choosing the correct riding school for your child, you must look at the instructors. Reputable schools will provide certifications for the school and the instructors. After all, certified instructors are not only educated in horseback riding instruction but also educated in working with children. If your child has special needs, search for an instructor specializing in these riders.

Facility Tour

Before choosing a riding school, visit the riding facility. You want to ensure the facility uses safe practices with reliable equipment. Additionally, you can see the cleanliness of the facility. A tour lets you ask questions and meet the trainer and other students.

Horse and Barn Safety

Before your child begins lessons, you want to teach and review safety rules when working with horses and in a barn. While riding horses is a fantastic experience, several elements can make it dangerous. A child can have fun riding horses but needs to take it seriously.

  • Wear a helmet and any other safety gear suggested by the instructor.
  • Wear boots with heels
  • Do not walk behind horses
  • Always tie up your horse as you tack
  • Follow all instructions given by the instructor

Horseback Riding Terms

Many riding terms will be taught to your child by his instructor. However, there are some terms you should teach your child before you head out.

Walk – the slowest gait of a horse.

Tack – equipment used for riding or the act of putting that equipment on your horse

Reins – straps attached to the bit in the horse’s mouth, used for communication and control

Stirrup – a metal loop that hangs off of the saddle to support the rider’s foot

Preparing Your Child Mentally

Setting Realistic Expectations

Riding horses is a skill. It takes years and hundreds of hours of practice to master. Even instructors will tell you that they learn something new every day. Before the first lesson, address these expectations. You will not start at a gallop. The first several practices will involve education of terms, horse care, and equipment care. Riding will be slow while your child learns to communicate with the horse.

Building Confidence

Horses can sense the feelings of the rider. Even though your child may lack confidence initially because of a lack of experience, try your best to build this confidence. A skilled instructor will help guide your child through a safe environment.

Essential Gear and Attire

Helmet and Footwear

Safety is the number one priority. All reputable schools require riders to wear helmets. You can purchase your own or use a loaner helmet from the riding school. The helmet needs to fit securely and meet all safety standards. For footwear, your child should wear close-toed boots with a low heel. The heel prevents the leg from sliding through the stirrup.

Comfortable Clothing

Wear clothes that can get dirty but are comfortable to exercise in. Many riders choose to wear jeans for protection and comfort. Additionally, dress appropriately for the weather. This can include layers in colder weather.