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i don't know ANYTHING about horses, can you help? :-D

(27 Posts)
thisisyesterday Sun 21-Aug-11 19:12:40

DS2 absolutely adores horses. He has just spent his ideal morning/afternoon petting some Ardennes heavy horses in between them harrowing a local wildflower meadow (how idyllic does that sound?? lol)

anyway, I was thinking he might like riding lessons. He will be 4 in October.

Is that old enough for lessons? are lessons really expensive? Do you think it would be possible to find someone local with a horse who would just let him mess around at a stable with them rather than having actual lessons right now?
I am totally not a horsey person, don't come from a horsey family so know really nothing about it at all!
I think he really loves just being with horses and would enjoy petting/grooming them rather than just turning up somewhere, riding for half an hour and then going home- do they learn horse care and stuff when they take lessons?

thank you for reading, any thoughts/advice etc would be really gratefully received

Mirage Sun 21-Aug-11 20:10:43

4 is fine-most riding schools won't take them before then.Both my dds started at 4.Lessons aren't cheap,we used to pay £24 for a hour shared lesson,but at 4 he'll only need half an hour.Some riding schools do affiliated Pony Club,where children who don't have ponies can learn stable and pony care,as well as riding,my dd1 did this until we bought a pony,and it stood her in good stead.

You may find it difficult to find someone who'd be happy to have a 4 year old who is unrelated to them,around their horses/ponies tbh.Ponies and horses can be dangerous at both ends,especially around very young children who aren't used to them and what they can do.It is all to easy to be bitten,kicked,stood on or knocked over,even if you are older and more experienced [am currently suffering a sore boob after our pony swiped her head right across it].

Good luck with whatever you decide-it is a fabulous thing to do,but it can be very expensive and time consuming.

You might be able to find

thisisyesterday Sun 21-Aug-11 21:08:27

thanks mirage, that's helpful.
I remembered that a friend of a friend works in a stable, so have asked if she knows anyone with a small pony that he could go over and learn to groom and stroke and just generally be around.
dp's bosses wife apparently also might have a pony! lol, so he is going to ask tomorrow.

i think you're right about getting them used to being around horses, and tbh I think he'd enjoy just being with a horse more than doing a formal riding lesson at the moment anyway. now i just need to find one!

if I fail on the friend front I might see if any local stables would be willing for me to take him over once a week and just "help" them out a bit

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Sun 21-Aug-11 23:37:59

I second the pony club affiliated centre suggestion. My friend runs one in the Midlands. It's bloody fantastic!

elastamum Mon 22-Aug-11 00:21:51

I started riding at four, but i was obsessed with horses from the first time my grandad sat me on one at a fete. Probably a pony ride once a week would be enough and then progress to 1/2 hour lesson if he is really keen.

I wouldnt have a 4 yr old on the yard as I would be worried, although my friend who rides my horse has a 3 yr old who is often helping her out with grooming my 16.2hh warmblood and he rides her in from the field on a lead rein! The horse is a real sweetie but I was still shock

LordOfTheFlies Mon 22-Aug-11 15:01:45

Mine wasn't a happy experience sad

My DD nagged for riding lessons when she was 4 so I searched for a riding school for her. (I'd checked all the credentials and insurance eyc)

The class was huge ( Saturday am so I expected it to be busy) But there were 12-15 ponies+riders+leader for each. So when my DD trotted from the front to the back there was very little room for her pony.They were in an indoor school.

Her pony was a beautiful, slim, light build and angelic tempered chap.I found that alot of R/S ponies were like Thewell!.But because DD was so little, her feet didn't even reach below the saddle flaps(So when she thought she was 'in charge' she wasn't because he was one of those been-there-got-the-Tshirt ponies that are ideal for a novice.He didn't even feel her feet on his side because there was no contact)

Unfortunately, she fell off him when he shook, like a dog,after heavy rain.If she'd been more experienced,she'd have seen it coming.But she hit the deck.
She went back another 2-3 times but her heart wasn't in it. I did tell her that I'd fallen off loads of times and I was still here..

Looking back,I wish I'd waited til she was older and booked a smaller class.Half an hour of more intensive riding ( which given her age/experience would have been limited) would have been more use than an hour just looking at his neck and a few trots to the back.

BTW she did a darn good sitting trot.Very smooth.

Her lessons were £20 at the time.This was 5 years ago .

mousymouse Mon 22-Aug-11 15:06:54

the riding schools in our area all only take kids from 6y. younger ones can sometimes sit on a horse for the cooling down walk. imo anything younger than 6 is too young. not too young for just sitting on the back but for proper riding, iyswim

georgesmummy11 Mon 22-Aug-11 19:18:14

My mum took me when I was 3 she went to the local riding school and paid to borrow the Shetland pony and lead reined me through the woods. Then I started lessons about 4 - 5 and then got a pony at 9. Xxxx

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Aug-11 21:05:23

thanks for all the replies, they're very helpful.

i think i will def not do formal riding lessons just yet. he needs to know more about horses first.
my friend of a friend who works at a stable said she is looking for someone with a small pony so that her own little girl can get used to horses too and learn to ride eventually, so she's going to talk to another friend who may be able to help us both out and let the kids love her pony a bit each week grin

this is all SO new to me. no-one in my family or circle of friends is really even remotely horsey, i literally know NOTHING about them at all so it's great to get your opinions and hear your own experiences on it all and how it all works

am sure i will be back repeatedly for advice if he carries on with his horsey passion (that sounds so wrong :-S)

Mirage Mon 22-Aug-11 21:50:34

I hope you've got deep pockets,thisisyesterday.grin

thisisyesterday Mon 22-Aug-11 22:12:35

not as deep as i'd like! lol

better get a job

StopRainingPlease Mon 22-Aug-11 22:14:55

Personally I think a 4 year old is too young for being around horses and helping with them, unless you find a bombproof pony and generous owner. Wouldn't let a 4 year old near my pony, the pony would probably just tread on him! Especially if you're not horsey yourself, you couldn't supervise and you'd need someone who a) knew about horses and b) knew about kids and c) had the patience of a saint. The parents with small kids at my yard are always telling them not to run near the horses, not to bang things, not to get behind the horses back legs, not to play in the hay (and we're talking 6/7 year olds not 4 year olds). And the next day they have to say the same things all over again as small kids live in the moment and just forget.

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 23-Aug-11 00:09:10

I disagree with the last poster. Ive helped my friend with her tiny tot sessions at the pony club centre. They love it. They are generally great with the ponies, and because they are shetties or welsh As, they are a nice safe size. Mum is expected to stay and supervise the real tinies, but they catch on really quickly and then Mum isnt wanted! They help groom and help tack up before they ride.
Its all about what you do, and how you do it. Ive got a couple of small ponies and often share them with little ones, but Mum has to be on hand, hats on heads at all times, they must be insured, and we keep the sessions short and fun.
And, over all, on the yard, my word is law. Mums have to agree that around the ponies, it comes down to safety, and if I need to tell the little one off or move them out of the way in a hurry, thats got to be acceptable.

thisisyesterday Tue 23-Aug-11 11:16:24

stopraining this is what made me think that if i could find someone who had a pony and was willing to just let DS2 go and groom it and pet it a bit once a week that might be better. he'd then have at least 2 adults with him the whole time supervising, rather than just being one of a group of kids. so much easier to prevent him from doing things he shouldn't be doing.

he was really, really good with the horses we met the other day. just stood at the head end stroking their noses!

am definitely leaving off proper riding lessons for the time being, i just think he would like to be with horses and learn about them and have a nice time.

thisisyesterday Tue 23-Aug-11 11:26:39

would i need anything for him if he was just being around a pony and helping to groom it? or is he ok in just regular clothes etc?

mousymouse Tue 23-Aug-11 11:33:57

regular clothes, yes if they wash well. horses can be very dirty/dusty and farmyards, well you know how dirty and muddy they can get.
would recommend proper trousers like jeans, horses can bite quite hard.
when I had a pony as a teen I had a blue overall (like a builder), proper boots (horses weigh a lot and the hooves are hard) and an old army jacket. I ruined many other clothes...

thisisyesterday Tue 23-Aug-11 15:47:03

cool, we have tons of old clothes.
hard boots good idea, hadn't thought about getting trodden on!

any recommendations?

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Tue 23-Aug-11 18:39:43

At the age he is, I wouldnt let him near any pony, without a proper riding helmet on. could you get him a little set of overalls? Ive seen little waterproof ones somewhere recently, (racks brains) and he could just pop them over whatever he is wearing. DD had a ski suit for the winter, it was excellent.
As he is so small, whatever he has on his feet wont be much protection, Id stick to wellies, (a stray hoof is more likely to slide off a welly boot, and feet can be pulled out easily) or something like caterpillar boots.
Check out ebay, its great for second hand kids stuff. Until he is older and jumping and stuff, he isnt likely to do anything too dangerous, so you could probably get away with a second hand hat if you needed to, although new is obviously better.
You keep mentioning 'horses', but I recommend that you just let him near small ponies, shetland welsh A types. Shod horses feet are lethal, and even the kindest horse could easily do him damage, with just a nudge of the head!

thisisyesterday Tue 23-Aug-11 18:59:16

yes he has some all-in-one waterproofs and wellies. will get a hat and will check ebay for caterpillar boots
are there any particular brands of hat i should look out for?

he will only be around ponies, friend of a friend of a friend has a shetland that we can go and visit smile
apols for keep saying horses instead, see i told you i know nothing lol

thankfully the person who owns the pony and the friend I will be going with know far, far more about them than I do blush

LittleB Wed 24-Aug-11 21:27:56

My dd started riding at 4, only once every 2-3weeks though, cost £9 for 20min ride (although often nearer 30mins), usually 3-5 of them in the outdoor school. As she got more confident she helps untack, and this summer has done 2 fun days (shes 6 now) where they are there for 4hrs, have a ride (schooling and hack or mini gymkahna) muck out, groom, clean tack, wash tails, learn about feeding etc £30 for the day, brilliant, she loved it, and there were several younger than her there. She rides fornightly now, and I'm hoping to do a pony share with a friend of ours (who is a qualified instructor) when our daughters are about 8/9. (hopefully they can get on something 13hh+ then so I can hop on occasionally as they are both tall and I'm short - I'd love to ride again regularly -me and dd did have a hack together this summer which was lovely). I think some lessons at 4 would be good for your ds, doesn't have to be every week.

Funky2sarah Sun 11-Sep-11 08:03:12

opppss think I may get shouted down here....my son is now 3yrs old, ever since he could walk he has been running round at a livery yard with 20 horses coming in and out, 4 or more dogs running around, helping to bring feed bowls in, collecting eggs from the chickens, feeding the goats, walking the dogs, leading my pony 14.2hh cob gelding (sadly passed away now), leading his now 3yr old welsh sec a...amongst otherthings, he sometimes wears his cycle helmet but generally he potters around. He has been taught from an early age, you dont run nr horses or go nr their back legs and to be honest has more sense round animals/horses than most would give him credit for. He has also sat on his pony just on a headcollar.....sorry to hi jack but I think with careful management and lots of friends that are happy to keep an eye too, it does work stopraining.......

sorry to hijack, but all of the above I did as a kid and its like everything, h and s can get in the way and our fear, hes had his toes stood on once or twice,hes been knocked over by a playing dog but he just laughs, picks himself up and gets on with it!

I would happily let you come and bring your DS2 come and meet my welshy (at your risk) I would happily supervise pony, show you how to catch him etc and a little groom, woudl be about 30 mins but in a relaxed environment where DS can get more hands on before getting on for the first time. Good Luck!!

saintmerryweather Tue 13-Sep-11 21:57:39

You're asking for trouble letting your 3 year old son lead a 3 year old pony and sit on it.

CeeYouNextTuesday Tue 13-Sep-11 22:45:21

I agree. Yes, your son knows where to run, how to behave. But, he is 3. Probably around 2 feet tall and weighing a couple of stone. You are letting him amble around large, dangerous, unpredictable animals. And you are openly bragging about letting him do it, without even wearing a helmet. Basic safety equipment.
A barefoot 14.2 standing on a 3 year old isn't funny, or clever, a 16.2 in shoes doing it could maim or kill. I am all for freedom, and children enjoying themselves, but you are putting him in harms way.

CeeYouNextTuesday Tue 13-Sep-11 22:46:46

I wouldn't let my 3 year old anywhere near you.

olderyetwider Wed 14-Sep-11 09:14:26

Steady on CeeYou, this isn't AIBU!

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