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Old 02-21-2011, 12:50 AM
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Default Minimum age for horseback riding lessons?

What do you equestrian people think is a good, safe minimum age to begin horseback riding lessons? I am not very educated in equestrian affairs, lol. I am from the country and had a mule growing up. I rode her all the time. We got her as a baby. I saddled and rode her myself (w/ no supervision) at age 7. I didn't even have to tell an adult when I wanted to ride. No HELMET or anything (crazy, i know. I promise I have good, responsible parents) We grew up in the country and that's just how things were. Prior to 7 I had ridden a lot w/ him holding a lead. Needless to say, I had no qualms about Chloe starting lessons at 4 (which is the minimum age at a local stable) but after doing more research I am beginning to feel differently.

I love horses, and mules i guess. lol. I never had any training except a little instruction from my dad. I fell off ALL the time and one of our other, very stubborn, mules would get ornery and take off running into the woods w/ us on her back and completely ignore instructions quite often. We were just expected to be tough, lol. I love the way I grew up but there is no way I am raising my kid that way. We lived on about 20 acres and were rarely supervised after age 7. We just stayed in the woods all the time and were told to keep away from snakes.

Anyway if you read all that thank you My 15 year old sister is in English riding lessons and has been for a few years. I like taking Chloe to the barn and I would love to enroll her in lessons (assuming she wants to but I am sure she will) when I think she is old enough. She is very fascinated w/ horses.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:53 AM
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Seven years old was typically the youngest we would take kids for lessons.

She can do pony rides until then.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:02 AM
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That's more what I am thinking, now. I am surprised they are taking 4 year olds. My sister's instructor said she wouldn't be comfortable with any kid under 5 and maybe not even then. I thought that was weird at first since I had seen other local stables saying "minimum 4" and a cousin of ours just started her 3 and 1/2 year old! but the more research I do the more afraid I get. Me and my dad had our hearts set on starting her @ 4 but now I don't know what I was thinking.

My sis's instructor did say we could bring her out after she's 3 and she could ride a pony-sized horse on a lead. I guess that will have to do If someone else isn't comfortable letting my 4 year old ride, I sure as heck shouldn't be.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:07 AM
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But are the 4 year olds they're taking doing actual riding lessons? Or is it just a pony ride?
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corgipower View Post
But are the 4 year olds they're taking doing actual riding? Or is it just a pony ride?
See, IDK, I couldn't find much info. That place had a limited website. I don't expect her to be trotting and doing jumps, lol. I just want her to start getting comfortable on the back of a horse as soon as, safely, possible. Even if she has to be on a lead.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:19 AM
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I don't expect her to be trotting and doing jumps, lol.
Well, no...I wouldn't think so...

But what I meant was whether or not there's even any instruction going on. I've taught riding lessons and I've also done pony rides, and at 4 years old, most of the kids can't even hold on to a neck strap, let alone learn anything else remotely useful.

But some stables will do pony rides, and it's nice to have the person leading the pony know a thing or three about safety. I worked at a barn that did pony rides and pony parties...and we were very good about how to do it safely, but not everyone is. I've seen some scary stuff.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:49 AM
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It just says "minimum age for lessons: 4 years"
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Old 02-21-2011, 05:49 AM
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I started at 6, I think? Someone was always leading the horses until I was 7 or 8. But I did start to learn proper seating, posting, trotting, etc. at age 6, plus we learned all of the equipment, parts of a horse, and grooming.

ETA: I think I could have done what I started doing at 6 at age 4 safely, but I'm not sure there would be much of a point. I think at 6 or 7 a kid is just more physically capable of properly riding a horse than they are at 4.
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Old 02-21-2011, 06:36 AM
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My cousin started at four. I went to one lesson, the horse was led by the instructor-and it was a very old horse that did not listen to the child on his back, only to the instructors cues. My cousin would be told what words to use or how to sit, or what to do to turn the horse or speed the horse up/slow him down. But the instructor would be the one to actually have the horse do it after my cousin did what she was supposed to. At one point they had her going beside posts with something perched on top and she'd have to pick it up as they went by and then put it on another post when they went by that.

She also had to brush the horse and learn about cleaning the stall. She enjoys it a lot, she's I think 8 years old now.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:52 AM
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When I taught, seven was my general limit. I would occasionally take a six year old if they came by the barn and seemed physically and mentally ready. I think the balance issues any younger than that are a real issue - little kids are very top heavy. You could pay for leadline lessons younger, but I think it would mostly be a waste of money.

What I would do is plan on monthly pony rides whenever the weather is nice; just give her a chance to be near a horse, sit on it, etc. I'm not sure I'd even bother with that before four or five, but that is just me. Heck, I was 11 before I got on a horse!
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