Keep your room clean, listen to your teacher, be nice to your peers, save your allowance - all things we may hear ourselves repeating to our kids. How much of it do they listen to, or care about? Are we making ourselves the "broken record" by repeating these important lessons?
Kids may learn a whole lot better if learning is hidden under a heap of fun. Give them a horse to ride and away they will go, having an amazing time while learning those hard life lessons that we try to instill into them!
No, of course you don't have to buy them a horse. Signing them up for an equine related program can give them that exposure they need without the huge financial investment of equine ownership!
Although horses are pretty self-sufficient, they do rely heavily on "their" humans to keep them fed, watered, and cared for. Most youth programs will encourage your child to help out with these vital tasks before or after they ride, ensuring that they know the importance of providing the essentials to their four-legged friend.
As well, there's a lot of equipment that is required for horseback riding - saddles, bridles, saddle pads, brushes - just to name a few! It's general barn rules that each rider must clean their equipment and put it back properly. Yes, it's true, sometimes our barns are kept cleaner than our houses, but making sure your child can take care of their equipment might make it easier for them to understand the importance of caring for their personal belongings or belongings entrusted to them by others.
Not only can I guarantee you that your child's horse will become their best friend, but I can also guarantee you that the other kids from the barn may be frequenting your house for sleepovers. On the upside, you won't have to drive them all to the mall to keep them occupied - just drop them all back off at the barn the next day! Having a group of friends that share a wonderful sport in common with each other will teach your child about friendship and community. And the best part is, they'll be surrounding themselves with kids learning all the same skills as they are - even if they don't yet know it!
Fotoferg By Design
Being around horses is a great way to teach any child about how to build a healthy relationship with a foundation of trust. What does that mean? They may be asked to drop their reins (used to control and steer the horse) while riding so that they can feel the horse take care of them, but at the same time be taught how to move around their horse so that they don't get kicked or bitten. They will learn how to approach a horse in the paddock so that they do not spook them and risk being hurt, and also how to stand in a herd of horses and interact with them "at liberty" (meaning without halters and lead ropes to control the horses) to form a deeper bond.
How does this relate to life skills? They are learning when to protect themselves and when it's safe to let their guard down. They learn that the foundation of a healthy relationship includes communication, respect, and honesty. Wait - was that three more life skills that a horse can teach your kid?
Yes, our kids spend over half of their day at school learning, but there's still so much more to learn that schools don't have time or resources to teach! Even specializing what we want to learn about in University can leave us the desire for more.
A good horseback riding coach will use a riding lesson to teach a child about the world, however, they will also help your child understand that they will forever be a student and that they don't know what they don't know. Your child's brain will become a sponge, and they might have a long list of books about horses that they'd like on their next birthday wish-list! You can be sure that the next passion they pick up, they'll be quicker to look for more resources to boost their education. Soon, they'll be setting their dreams around their passions and shooting for the stars!
EMPOWERMENT AND LEADERSHIP
Yep, I just snuck two life skills into my last paragraph, because if you're seeing a pattern here, your child can learn many more than 5 important life skills from a horse. Take a child who is reserved, shy, and not the first one to raise their hand, and teach them how to convince an animal ten times their size to do what they want, and you can bet that their confidence will sky rocket!
They'll quickly learn that they need to partner with the horse (another important life skill) in order to succeed in their lessons. Watch the difference as they interact with their peers, subconsciously learning that leadership is earned, not demanded. Not only that, but they'll learn how to communicate using body language and energy, since horses aren't fluent in English, and silent communication is the loudest around the barn.
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to watch your kid grow and learn and develop without having to be the one always telling them what to do? Let the horse tell them what to do, and try not to be jealous when your kid listens to their horse or their coach better than they listen to you! Just get ready to pick them up after school, because they've been waiting all day for the bell to ring so they can race back to the barn for more life lessons from the horse!