If you are a horse lover, there’s a good chance that you want to convert the kids in your life, too. As much as we love these animals, we choose to interact with them knowing the risks involved. But kids do not! Are you worried about keeping kids safe in and around the barn? You aren’t alone! It doesn’t have to be complicated to safely introduce kids to horses, but there are some important things to keep in mind.
When getting kids ready to interact with horses for the first time, it’s important to establish some ground rules.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways when it comes to safely interacting with horses:
You can do this using your voice and placing your hands on the horse. Horses have blind spots both directly in front of and behind them – make sure the kids know this.
Remember, horses are prey animals, and they have blind spots. Approaching a horse head on is intimidating to them, but approaching from the shoulder gives them time to understand the interaction.
This can be a hard one with excited kids! But it is important for you to reinforce that loud voices and shouting can startle the horse, which can lead to safety concerns.
Just as loud voices can startle a horse, so can quick movements! Keep a close eye on kids in the barn and be quick to correct them when they run around horses.
This is so tempting for kids! When the time comes to introduce leading a horse, be sure that you demonstrate how to properly hold a lead rope.
Read horses’ body language to understand their behavior. Teaching kids the fundamentals of horses’ body language will take time, but you can break it down by pointing out what you see. For example, if a horse pins its ears back, point the behavior out to the child and explain what the horse is trying to tell them.
We all know that kids are great at mimicking behavior that they see. And it’s no different in the barn! If you want kids to follow safety procedures, you must be the one to demonstrate them. Set a great example for the kids in the barn by always using safe methods when handling horses. The goal is not to let fear rule their interactions with horses, but rather reinforce a healthy sense of respect for them!
It’s completely normal for kids to progress at different speeds when it comes to interacting with horses. It’s crucial that you, as their role model, understand this. Kids should be slowly introduced to interactions with horses. This means that in their first visits to the barn, kids should be able to get used to the new surroundings before being expected to ride. After an initial visit to the barn and seeing the horses, they can progress to interactions like grooming. After kids are completely comfortable with basic interactions with horses, then they can progress to riding lessons.
If you have taken the first steps in safely introducing a child to horses and they just can’t get enough, it’s time for you to find them further instruction! Look for riding instructors that specialize in teaching beginners in your area. You can also look into nationwide organizations like Pony Club that exist to foster kids’ knowledge and love of horses. In the end, what matters most is that you’ve helped to instill horse safety practices in the kids you love that they can take with them their whole lives!
I’ve been around horses my entire life, but my Friesian journey started just over 20 years ago. Our horses have always been a part of our family. They have traveled with us as we relocated from Vermont to New York to Iowa and finally, to Arizona. I can’t wait to share our story with you!
Nov 11, 2021
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