Anyone a parent of boys who ride...and why so few seem to ride.(19 Posts)
.. my 2 boys were at riding club junior championships at the weekend and as a mother of boys the lack of boys competing was noticeable. I think there were about 5 out of a total of nearly 200 competitors in the junior dressage / showjumping classes.
We are used to lack of boys in pony club, but boy participation seems to be really declining at grassroots levels although there are pretty well represented at an elite level.
I don't want to get into a feminism debate, but I wondering why this is?
Had riding become too bling? too many other options/demands on time? Are they too competitive and if not going to be successful give up early?...or all of the above.
According to mums of boys that I know who have given up riding, it was because of peer pressure from boys at school. Pony riding is seen to be a 'girls' passtime and is a bit 'poofy' for a boy to do.
One mum I know whose son wanted to give up because of teasing from other boys, got a group of the boys down to the stables and let the. Have a ride on the ponies and do a small jump etc. Most of them were thrilled by it and when shown videos of the boy competing XC etc, they had a new respect for him.
My eldest used to ride but stopped when he was 14 (ironically just before he started to get interested in girls). He stopped because other boys thought it was 'girly'....
My daughter's been riding for several years now and once in a blue moon there'll be a boy in her group lesson but more often than not it'll be 100% female and all the helpers at her stables are girls
My son loved riding and was getting quite good at it, but he stopped at 13. The reason he stopped initially was because he injured his knee playing rugby, but after it healed he decided not to go back to riding. I think it was peer pressure from his friends, sadly. It's a shame, because when he went riding with friends (all beginners) a few years later they were all really impressed that he knew what to do. At least it's a skill he'll always have, but I do wish he'd kept it up because he adored it. If I remember correctly, there were only two boys in his riding class.
Mine hardly ever rides now aged 16, just petered out really, his pony was lame for ages, then he injured himself in another sport, the lad in his class who rode gave up, peer pressure, busy revising etc
Don't think things like pink rosettes for certain placings at pony club help tbh.
He did come from home from school the other day and said they had played polo in games. Proper polo or water polo i asked, oh only water, shame he replied, i would love to play polo.
My son, 20, still rides but only because he fell into a discipline with lots of boys and an active social side. I think the issue is the domination of girls in pony club etc. He did camp several years and there were usually 3 boys max and 30 girls.
I look after his horse because I'm happy to support him in a reasonably healthy activity. I think he would have given up if he has to do all the looking after !
Nearly old enough has put her finger on it - boys don't enjoy caring for horses as much as girls, but some pony club disciplines which are fun and have a good social side keep their interest- PC polo is very boy heavy...
I have a 12 year old girl and a 3 year old boy. 12 year old has weekly riding lessons but has never been interested really in our own ponies. 3 year old ds is obsessed and would be riding every day if he could. Plis he adores being on the yard and generally 'messing around' which dd never was.
I am hoping he continues to maintain the same level of interest. But suspect what did appeal to dd (showing) won't appeal to ds. I can see him wanting to do show jumping or cross country rather than the more sedate showing.
Which is where a lot of boys get lost. Showing is expensive but a decent competition pony in any of the other disciplines get very expensive very quickly compared to a 'show' pony that can probably do 3 or 4 classes at local level. And do reasonably well in at least 1 class. Whereas a show jumper has probably 2 height classes it can do and has to be able to jump. And the same with cross country.
And it has to look cool to keep up with peer pressure. The average non horsey teenage boy doesn't understand the skill needed for a decent dreasage test but can see the wow factor of a big course.
I think it depends on the disciplines your PC does. We're in racing country, and pony racing, tetrathlon, polo and eventing are actively encouraged. Older boys make good role models - our pony club has a British national Tet champion teaching the younger kids, and the local huntsmen encourage all the children to ride up with him. In my DS's age group about half the kids are boys.
My son has just started horseball and it seems more popular with boys and men, it's really made him rediscover his riding and he's loving it.
I have DS 12 who rides- it's a passion..... having said that , I try to find male instructors and role models for him ........ not always possible , but they can be found.
I have the added issue that he is not gung ho at all - so with male instructors they need to be a little sensitive- but they are out there....
This is interesting because I was thinking at DD's lesson just last week how there seemed to be a much better balance of girls/boys at her riding school than there ever was 30+ years ago when I was learning. At my riding school, there was literally 1 boy who rode there (and stayed, and helped, and eventually worked there) during the whole 10 years I was there. At DD's riding school, there are 3 young male instructors, 2-3 lads I've seen helping out, and usually 2-3 boys in most of the classes I have seen (maximum 8 riders in total).
So I had thought (on my sample of 1 riding school!), that the imbalance was less marked than it used to be, but maybe DD's school is an outlier.
I think peer pressure plays a huge part in this, as PPs have mentioned.
They might start lessons when they're younger, but when they get to school, if everyone else in their class is playing football/rugby at the weekends, then they perhaps just feel more and more isolated and different. They have to be quite self assured to continue with it if they're getting negative comments from peers, and have to have a strong enough character to not mind being different. Not always easy, during adolescence.
My DH rode as a child & carried on with it through adolescence into adulthood. He reaped the benefits of being one of the very few boys on the yard through his teenage years, I can tell you .
There are a couple of boys at our stable. My son does enjoy riding but it can be a very catty place - even amongst the children.
Also because he is a "novelty" some of the girls can act really silly around him and he gets embarrassed.
My son is just starting to love his riding again - he is 13, after about a year of not wanting to have lessons any more. I dragged him along anyway and now he is riding the faster ponies and jumping higher, he is back into it again. He won't do pony club though as he's the only boy and it does get a bit catty with the 12 year old girls - he just has nothing in common with them. He didn't enjoy doing our pony - too many middle-aged women up the yard and not a man in sight, apart from a few husbands dragged up to poo pick.
plenty of boys in polo, when pony club did racing that helped keep boys riding, all about peers / image / etc. those boys who do ride tend to have a male role model such as a father who rides...
DS, 7, has lessons but is the only boy in the class, he isn't really interested in the ponies, like the girls are, as a pp mentioned.
It's me that keeps sending him, if he stopped tomorrow I don't think he would miss it.
Why do you keep sending him if he's not bothered?
My ds rode until he was 8 1/2 and then dropped it. The instructor told me that it was common for boys to become uninterested and then a few years later pick it up again. His sister who is nearly 7 has surpassed him now with jumping etc and he is becoming competitive so iy wouldndt surprise me if he asks to ride again within a year or so. However he is quite a happy hacker just not lessons/PC.
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