HORSE RIDING

Horses Are Great For Kids
Horses make wonderful childhood companions. Children are naturally attracted to them, and that makes horses a desirable alternative to TV-watching, Internet-surfing, or just “hanging out.” Horseback riding also puts children in touch with nature, and can be enjoyed alone or in groups.
Riding offers much more than equestrian know-how. Here’s why horses can be a life-enhancing choice for your child.
Riding families have always known horses are good for kids, but now research is proving it. One study, found that equestrian activities do indeed enhance a range of life skills in children. Results of the study, published in February 2006, found a significant positive relationship between horsemanship skills and life skills.
“If your child likes animals and you’re concerned about that child’s problem solving, goal-setting, or decision-making skills, then definitely get him or her involved with horses,” says Ann Swinker, Ph.D., a professor in Animal Science at Penn State University and one of the study’s co-authors.
Better Kids Through Horses
If you’re an equestrian, you already know how beneficial horses are for children. If you’re not, you may be surprised to learn just how constructive horse involvement can be. Here’s a quick rundown of what “growing up with horses” can mean for your child:
Wholesome fun
Horses make wonderful childhood companions. Children are naturally attracted to them, and that makes horses a desirable alternative to TV-watching, Internet-surfing, or just “hanging out.” Horseback riding also puts children in touch with nature, and can be enjoyed alone or in groups.
When the whole family gets involved, the time spent together with horses can enhance the bond among family members and become the stuff of treasured childhood memories. Moreover, the benefits of horse involvement are enduring, as a child’s “horse habit” can evolve into a rewarding lifelong hobby.
Character development
Handling, riding, and caring for a horse or pony can develop a host of positive traits in a child, including responsibility, accountability, patience, level-headedness, empathy, kindness, and self-discipline.
“The most important thing I’ve learned,” wrote one 17-year-old study participant, “is that hard work and believing in yourself can get you anywhere.”

Health benefits
Riding is terrific exercise. “People who think the horse does all the work have never really ridden,” notes Katie Phalen, an instructor at Waredaca Farm in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Apart from its aerobic benefits, riding also helps a youngster develop balance, coordination, and flexibility, she notes. Moreover, the activities involved in caring for a horse grooming, hefting buckets and saddles, cleaning stalls can make for a great upper-body workout.
Then, too, as children learn how important good nutrition, veterinary check-ups, dental work, and regular exercise are to a horse, they begin to appreciate their own health needs.

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