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3 Reasons Horseback Riding is Great for Toddlers and Young Children
- It strengthens core muscles and improves coordination. My daughter has hypotonia or the fancy word for low muscle tone. She sometimes walks into objects and can’t jump on her own. She now can hold herself center on the horse while it trots and is finally able to jump. Even her occupational therapist has noticed the change in her strength and physical ability.
- It builds confidence. My daughter was shy and would hide behind me when meeting strangers. After her first lesson when she realized she could control where and when an animal like 20x her size would go, her quiet voice became a little louder. As the months of lessons continued, she has turned into a social butterfly, not afraid of anyone.
- It teaches the importance of following directions both by the child directing the horse and the instructor giving directions to the child. My daughter was amazed when her horse would listen to her when she would say “whoa” and “let’s go.” She soon realized that lessons do not start until she is ready with her helmet on, gets on the mounting block and asks for help up and the horse will not move until she is properly seated with her feet in the stirrups. This routine and instruction has helped her immensely.
I encourage anyone who has access to a horseback riding facility to first take a trail ride with the whole family and see how you feel comfort wise around the animals. Take the time to watch and observe how the staff interacts with not only the horses but your child as well.
The book Judy Richter’s Riding for Kids is a great read for parents. For a cute horseback riding shirt, the “I’d Rather Be Horseback Riding” shirt comes in toddler sizes in a variation of colors. Of course every child is going to want their own pair of cowboy boots which if they continue with learning can later be upgraded to some fancy riding boots!
Author: Kim Campbell
I am a 30-something mommy to one beautiful toddler named Charlotte. I always knew my little girl was special and in January 2016, she was diagnosed with autism. Between therapy sessions and being a grizzly mama bear, I enjoy wine (lots of wine), sewing, DIY projects, and experimenting in the kitchen.