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Should I encourage DD to get into horse riding?

23 replies

Toponyornottopony · 07/06/2020 13:32

DD is only 2.

I used to ride & have a pony on part loan, I’m by no means an expert but I know my dandy brush from my hoof pick, so to speak.

Potentially could have the opportunity to use a very old, steady pony for DD to do some lead rein riding on in the near future.

But I’m worried about opening a can of worms as I know how expensive riding can be. (We are fairly well off, but not “just buy her a schoolmaster and stick it on full livery” well off! )

Not sure whether to encourage it? Or just wait and see if she naturally gets into riding of her own accord (lots of horses around where we live, so entirely possible).


  • I love horses, it’s a nice way to spend time

  • I want DD to have a hobby /passion (doesn’t have to be horses though)

  • it’s something we can do together, mum & daughter


-expensive if she gets really into it
  • time consuming if she gets into it
  • risky, especially if she wanted to jump / event

Would be interested to hear from other people with horse-mad kids.

( By way of background, I was a horse mad kid but parents knew nothing about horses, had no interest. Didn’t live in the countryside. Could only afford occasional lessons. I got back into it as an adult, ended up with a steady pony on loan for a few years)
OP posts:
Cornishmumofone · 07/06/2020 13:33

I'd wait until she shows an interest herself as it's so expensive.

EloiseTheFirst · 07/06/2020 13:35

2 is a bit young.

Wait until she's old enough to have lessons at a riding school. About 4 or 5. (Assuming she wants to of course).

Toponyornottopony · 07/06/2020 13:35

To clarify, I used to have the pony on loan. Gave it up a few years back. Currently have no involvement with horses.

OP posts:
SirSamuelVimesBlackboardMonito · 07/06/2020 13:37

DD started lessons at five. She does one half hour a fortnight, which costs us £16 a time. She was just starting to canter in Feb before lockdown kicked in. She loves it and we can afford that level for now, and hopefully we'll be better off (I'm not working atm) when she starts wanting more.

We're never going to be at the "just buy her a pony" stage but she can have lessons and see where it leads.

SirSamuelVimesBlackboardMonito · 07/06/2020 13:38

Sorry, timeline unclear! Was starting to canter in Feb, with less than a year of fortnightly lessons, and her 6th birthday was in May.

Megan2018 · 07/06/2020 13:41

Oh I would!

I have a pony lined up for DD to try and she’s only 9 months.
If she hates it I don’t mind, but there’s a leadrein pony where I keep mine.

I can’t see the harm in trying, you can stop if she’s not keen.

midnightstar66 · 07/06/2020 13:42

I encouraged it and now have 2 horse mad DD's with a cost of near on £60 each time they both want a lesson, not to mention the gear. I'd leave it a bit

countrygirl99 · 07/06/2020 13:43

Would you be responsible for the pony or is it a question of popping over for a sit and pootle round. I would say yes to the latter but not the former at that age.

FluffMagnet · 07/06/2020 13:45

I started at 3, my sister was before 2, as like you we were lucky enough to have access to a steady schoolmaster. We continued through various riding schools, and eventually shared a pony between the three of us (DM, DSis and I). I still have our (very elderly) pony clubber and my DD has been around her all her life. DD is now toddling and absolutely loves the ponies (and cats and chickens and dogs). If you have free use of a kindly pony to potter round with, I would make the most of it.

Booboostwo · 07/06/2020 13:52

Riding is expensive and risky, I don’t think there is any reason to start a child so young or encourage them if they are not interested. Give it a few years and see what happens. IMO children learn a lot faster and safer from 8yo plus, it’s a matter of balance and coordination.

Toponyornottopony · 07/06/2020 13:53

@countrygirl99 no we would not be taking it on loan or anything like that. Would just be a case of going along for DD to stoke the pony, have a little sit on it.

OP posts:
Megan2018 · 07/06/2020 13:56

If DD has the bug she won’t get her own until she’s big enough to share with me. We can’t afford 2 and I’m not giving up.
I have a 14.2 though as I’m short so potentially wouldn’t take too long.

Floralnomad · 07/06/2020 19:58

We are a horsey family and when I had my first we owned 3 horses and a Shetland pony . Both of our dc rode until they were 6 and then gave up ( ds after a rather nasty accident and dd after a couple of falls from a riding school pony ) at that point we owned 2 of the original horses ( 2 had died) and a Dartmoor pony which was bought for ds . We are now 20 yrs down the line and the Dartmoor pony is our only remaining equine and she is on full livery . I personally wouldn’t buy another riding horse because we don’t sell on but I do ride 2/3 times a week at a local stables . I’m pleased we started ours young as they both outgrew the enthusiasm before I ended up with ponies in several sizes to look after into their dotage

maxelly · 07/06/2020 20:32

Well as you describe it, just going up for a bit of a groom and occasional sit on, then there's no harm whatsoever in it so long as you take all the normal safety precautions. At 2 you aren't setting her up for life with any kind of hobby, just providing her with lots of experiences - if later on she doesn't want to ride or you decide its too expensive/risky you can stop going and she'll likely not even remember it and certainly unlikely to be upset - so I wouldn't overthink it for now, just do things you and she enjoy, plenty of time to agonise over what her hobbies should be later on - when she'll probably voice her own opinions anyway!

Do bear in mind that I think too much actual riding for the under 4s is not too be recommended as their muscles and pelvis aren't really strong enough to sit astride for more than 10-15 mins or so at once (unless you can get a basket type saddle for her) and they can find it uncomfortable wearing a helmet as it's heavy on their necks (but of course she does need to wear one if she's doing anything more than literally being held on the fully stationary pony). So I'd just pop her on for a very short sit on at first and build up from there...

As to encouraging/not encouraging it as she gets older, I'd just play it by ear - yes it's an expensive hobby but it's by no means necessary for her to have her own pony, all the expensive gear or even weekly lessons. Just like you did, plenty of pony mad little girls (and boys!) get by on the odd lesson, pony club membership and perhaps a pony week in the holidays, which needn't be prohibitively expensive (yes I know still beyond many people's reach) - of course they may dream of and beg for their own pony but I think it's a brilliant if tough life lesson to learn that things we really want cost money and have to be worked and waited for - I didn't get my own horse until I was an adult despite loving ponies and riding from a very young age, it didn't put me off, if anything it just spurred me on!

Studycast · 07/06/2020 20:40

I would definitely go for it op!

If you have access to a steady lead rein pony then that is a real advantage and would be a lovely gentle way to start.

I agree with starting with proper riding lessons aged around seven though. But in the meantime, you can have fun together, going for gentle walks, doing a little grooming and getting your dd to understand how to behave around a horse.

I also happen to think it is no bad thing if you enjoy getting back in to horses too!

It's taken me over 20 years to get back in to riding, and I love it! (My daughter is 16 and we have a mother-daughter share.) The only problem now is that she has become a speed merchant, and has overtaken me in terms of ability and ambition, so we have ended up paying for her to have x-country lessons on someone else's competition horse!

Finally , as you know, in these days of screens, I think riding is a great interest for dc, as it involves early starts/ hard work/resilience, it gets them out in to the fresh air, they learn to take responsibility for a living creature, putting an animal's welfare before their own, and it's a great way of meeting friends and having fun. And sometimes it's great to have a different set of friends outside of school.

Pleasedontdothat · 08/06/2020 13:59

DD’s been obsessed with horses since she was tiny, however I didn’t want to start her having lessons etc until she was older as I’d seen other family members grow out of the obsession pretty quickly.

She started lessons when she was 8 and from then until she was 15 she had to make do with weekly, then twice-weekly lessons, plus pony weeks in the holidays (would thoroughly recommend Wellington for junior riding holidays).

When she was 11 she started volunteering at her riding school - she got nothing but experience in return but that meant she was offered a (paid) Saturday job when she moved to a bigger riding school at 13. That meant she got the opportunity to school the riding school ponies when they were playing up for the little kids and occasionally got asked to compete.

She never stopped asking for her own pony but due to logistics (my work, other children’s commitments etc) we couldn’t make it happen until she was old enough to be allowed on a yard without adult supervision and able to get there under her own steam at least some of the time. She saved virtually everything she earned and put it in her pony fund and topped it up whenever grandparents gave her money for birthdays etc

When she finally got her own horse, she had lots of experience looking after horses, knew how much work they can be, and riding lots of different ponies has made her a much better rider. She never takes having her own horse for granted and her work ethic and focus are amazing. She kept up with all her school work throughout GCSEs and got great results as she knew that if her school work started to slip she wouldn’t be able to spend so much time at the yard.

That was a very long winded way of saying I’d hold off for a bit if I were you!

ApplestheHare · 08/06/2020 14:18

I think 2 is way too young to worry about her getting into it so I'd go for it if that's all that's stopping you atm. They don't really get into things for a few more years. We used to take DD along to sit on a brush SIL's ponies when she was small but it's only since she turned 5 that she had enough of an interest to pursue it herself.

FanFckingTastic · 08/06/2020 16:51

If you have access to a really good school master on part loan then I would say go for it OP. We started loaning a little Shetland for my DD when she was 3 and it was great. We didn't do too much formal riding for the first year or so - just some nice lead rein hacks, grooming and generally building confidence. She progressed really quickly - I think that they learn so much more with their 'own' pony rather than having a 30 minute lesson at a riding school. We went on to buy a pony for her and I to share when she was 6 (pony is 14.1 and I'm not tall so it works really well) The only thing to consider is whether you feel comfortable teaching your DD and caring for the pony. My DD had a few very short lessons from instructors when she was younger but it was mostly me.

bouncydog · 09/06/2020 06:57

I would go for it! DD was 18 months and DH and I used to borrow a tiny pony for her to start on. She had lessons at the riding school until she was 12 and then bought her own 15.2 Irish sports with her own money saved. DD is now 27 and horse is now 22 and still with her. She took her to Uni (we live offshore so a lot of arranging but she did it). DD did everything on her first horse and has now bought a second younger one. Yes it is expensive as a hobby, but it teaches discipline and respect. We also never had any teenage nonsense to contend with! Your daughter will either love it or the interest will fall away. If like our DD she becomes competitive it’s a huge commitment but we’re so proud of what she has achieved.

Dragonsanddinosaurs · 10/06/2020 10:01

I would take her along and let her sit on it, but also let her try as many other things as possible as she gets older. Then she can decide what she has a passion for.

SirSamuelVimesBlackboardMonito · 10/06/2020 10:07

Yes it is expensive as a hobby, but it teaches discipline and respect. We also never had any teenage nonsense to contend with!

This is my hope! I was a teacher for 12 years and the horsey girls were always lovely, so I'm viewing it as a very expensive insurance policy against nightmare teenage years. Grin Worth a go!

elessar · 10/06/2020 10:13

I guess partly it depends on how involved you would be willing to get. If she became passionate about it, would you be prepared to fund lessons and a share/loan/possible purchase in future?

I don't think it would be fair to encourage her if you weren't then prepared to support the hobby if it became more serious for her.

That said at 2, I don't think you really need to be 'encouraging' her, but it's no harm to bring her for the occasional sit on a pony, groom etc.

Onthetrain75 · 10/06/2020 10:14

No. It’s expensive and time consuming so do not push it. When she’s old enough for a riding school then by all means take her for some lessons, but let the drive come from her. I say this as a rider with 2 children, one of whom has a slight interest. I realised that really it’s my passion, not my daughter’s as she has lots of other hobbies so I ride in the week and take her for lessons when she asks. Be very wary of creating a situation where your daughter takes for granted what is a very expensive and time consuming hobby. Let the drive come from her.

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