There are few experiences in life comparable to the trials of parent-child horse riding. The hobby requires a lot of hard work, no doubt, but it is an immensely rewarding experience that will leave you and your children all the richer for it.
Let’s start with the obvious.
Horse riding is a great exercise. And because it’s so much fun, it doesn’t even feel like it! Just one hour of gentle trotting can burn up to 360 calories. And it’s a great way to improve muscle strength and tone. The health benefits are both physical and mental. In addition to burning calories, horse riding also stimulates serotonin release, which can promote happiness, relaxation, reduce stress levels, and increase the chance of a good night’s sleep.
And the not so obvious…
Horse riding, it seems, has a whole swathe of surprising additional health benefits. One study found it can boost a child’s intelligence by actively enhancing memory, learning, and problem solving skills. It is thought that the vibrations produced from riding horseback can activate the sympathetic nervous system, increasing the ability to perform behavioural tasks.
The apparent rigmarole of caring for a horse, from the grooming of the coat, to the picking of stones from the shoes – including the not-so-glamourous mucking out of the stables – are surprisingly therapeutic. In addition to prolonging your workout (believe me, it doesn’t start or end with riding!), the whole procedure is a window to establish an intimate family connection, from parent to child to horse.
How horse riding can set your child for life
Ronald Reagan once said: “There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” and it’s hard to find a fault with this phrase. Horse riding gives children a great opportunity for intensive learning and focus. It teaches them to respect the huge animal that they are bonding with and, ultimately, it trains them in the art of responsibility. Your child, after all, will come to appreciate and understand that the horse is reliant on them for its health and wellbeing.
Part of being responsible involves the managing of your horse’s diet. Spillers Feeds provides both expert nutritional advice and a selection of feeds, both of which are crucial in the upkeep of your horse.
Why you should take up horse riding now
Horse riding is a glimpse back into those now forgotten pre-Internet days. Sure, your child will probably take a hundred selfies with their new best friend – in fact, that’s probably inevitable, but they’ll be away from that couch and that laptop, and amongst the trees and fields, getting some exercise under a blue sky. Junior competitions are also a great opportunity for them to make new (non-virtual) friends to train with and learn from.
But most importantly, horse riding offers an invaluable experience of parent-child development; to work as a team. To help them progress and accomplish tasks step-by-step. You’ll be there for their first jump, you’ll be there for their first fall, and together you will share some of the happiest moments of your lives.