Riding lessons for very young children(15 Posts)
I am sure this thread has been done a million times, but from what age can young children safely start riding? One local stables says 4, but they start straight away with a 1 hour lesson which i find quite intense and long. My youngest is 3.7, and i would be looking for about 15-20 minutes on a leading rein for a few months before moving on. It has been decades since I rode, so it is really like i am starting again from scratch, so i would be hugely grateful for ideas and thoughts from people a great deal more knowledgeable!
my son is nearly 3yrs, he's been 'riding' since he could sit but is now happy doing about 10-15min and actually concentrating. I do have a little riding school and usually do 10-15 min for children 3-5yrs old as an intro and 30min lessons from 5yrs - I don't think 1hr works very well until 7-8yrs - but it depends on the child.
My DD had her first go on her 3rd birthday recently, it was about 20 minutes with 15 minutes around the field and 5 minutes in the school, I was hugely impressed :-)
My great granddaughter has just had her first sit on and walk round in front of her mum (ggd is 10 months). She loved it. She won't do much more than that till she's 3, and won't trot till she's 4 as the neck isn't really up to it till then.
I wouldn't do an hour lesson at 4 (I wouldn't do more than 15 mins proper riding at that age, just lots of walks out,
4 seems to be a common (insurance based?) limit for riding schools round here - but not an hour - no way could they focus for that long.
I used to teach in a RS.
We took them from 4 I think. They started with walkouts/tots trots which were basically a pony ride, with one older teen yard girl leading the pony and another walking beside the child on foot.
They'd go round the field, up the lane....anywhere they fancied really. The girls would teach the children how to steer, stop, go etc, get their basic position established, teach them a few horsey terms...
Depending on their ability/concentration span, they'd start having "proper" lessons with us the instructors - just half hour private lessons either led or the occasional lunge lesson.
In time - which varied hugely - they'd join a 45 minute group lesson but would often intersperse those with the privates, lunge lessons and even go back to walk outs from time to time. All useful and educational in their different ways.
It does depend hugely on the child though. Some are happy with pony rides forever, seemingly thrilled beyond words to be able to plod round a field. I've also known some really game and grimly determined littlies who are horrifically bored by that and want to do it correctly, right from the beginning!
I really miss teaching kids to ride
We're in France but here the local riding school takes them from 4 onwards but only for walk-only led hacks for about half an hour maximum. I don't think it's good for them to do too much too soon and until they can balance and follow instructions it seems a bit pointless anyway.
50 I'm glad you said that about the necks as I saw a tiny tot who couldn't even have been two being led over jumps at Hickstead last year (think it must have been mini clear round or something) with her mum holding her on the pony by the back of her jacket, and at every jump her little head snapped back quite violently. I was horrified but no one else seemed to be bothered.
An hour at 4 is madness. They cannot concentrate nearly that long and it will be too physically tiring. At 4 I led my daughter round for maybe 20 mins. By 5 I had her on the lunge and by 6 she was riding by herself but only for relatively short periods. I think at 7 I started her in group lessons that were an hour long but that included walking from the stables to the arena and back, and breaks inbetween riding to have water and learn some theory.
Hi, thanks everyone for the response, sorry I was not on MN yesterday. I agree an hour is simply too long. I am really looking for him to be able to sit for 15 minutes or so, a bit of a walk around and then when he is older graduating to more formal lessons.
Hmmm.... back to the drawing board and I will ring other schools to see what they do. The one I rang is the nearest and has a great reputation, but I guess I am looking for a gentle introduction until he is older.
We were luckily able to borrow a gentle shetland to take ds out for little rides, so much better than going to a riding school at that age as they can develop a relationship with the pony which all helps with confidence and keeping their interest (has to be the right pony though obv!).
There is a lovely pony (shetland x) at a yard near us, her owner loans her out a couple of days a week to keep her life interesting and she's taught a succession of tiny riders. I've seen her so patient and forgiving when they take their first forays off the lead rein, she really is a treasure and the children adore her. (I've never seen a pony own so many pink rugs .)
I've seen this pony advertised occasionally when the riders outgrow her and move on, so maybe keep an eye open locally for a similar situation?
I'm in the Southern Hemisphere, and its no different. Some places take children on from the age of 4 for 1hr lessons, and often the kids are bored, tired and grumpy by the time an hour has passed.
However, there are some riding schools which offer something more like a 'pony ride' for the little ones, anywhere between 15-30min, with a little basic instruction, and then a few fun games for the kiddies to play on a stationary, steady pony. If your DC is nearing 4, I would look for something more like this, and hold off on the 1hr lesson for a (long) while.
I think there are added issues with things like hip development in under 4s. Bearing in mind neck issues, lack of balance, hats being heavy on teeny heads, four is probably plenty young enough.
We did have one 4 year old start to nod off on a pony ride, bless him. He rode with us for years after that and was always one of the most relaxed, laid back kids I've ever met
There was a lovely photo a while back of HM leading her grandson who was three at the time. The place where we went for a 20 minute session said that most places don't take kids at age three because of something to do with ofsted, whether that's correct or not I have no idea.
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