When I had my oldest daughter, I was young. 18. I taught her to ride when she was 5. Now I am 40 and my baby son, Bo just turned 8. I am so scared to put him on a horse. Funny how age has made me a chicken. And poor Bo wants to ride.
I agree with others, it depends. I don't take students under 7. My daughter just turned 6 and shows small fry w/t classes. She's been riding well since before she was born and on her own off the line for the last couple years, but she is in the barn with me 7 days a week. If she was just taking a once a week lesson I don't think she would be ready as early, being immersed in horses and sharing my love for them helps. I started the same way, my mom rode prego and I was riding on my own before I could walk.
Most young children don't have the attention span or eye/hand coordination required to truly "ride" in the sense of being on their own and controlling the horse. Riding with someone or on a line is totally different. I take lots of little ones along for rides, my 2 yr old nephew is hooked on horses already and I'm certain he only asks to come see me because I will take him out to the "Hooses".
For our therapeutic riding program we will not take children under five because their necks are not developed enough to support their heads properly for the movement of the horse and so can cause strain and injury.
My little girl is interested in horses and I was considering getting her lessons because we do not live on a farm or have horses. She is four and will be five in Sept. When she was 2 1/2 we gave her swimming lessons, which teach her to swim on her own without a float but gave her confidence in the water and got her used to the water. I just wondered if riding lessons would do the same thing for her, get her use to horses and learn how to care for them.
My husband and I love horses and I was thinking if she really took to the lessons that we would take some too. We have rode horses before, several times, just with trial horses. The idea is to make it a family thing to learn about caring for horses too and maybe in the future, years down the road, buy one.
When we went to the fair last year after riding some rides we took a break to eat a snack and drink some lemonade. So , we sat and watch the horse show while we ate and she didn't want to go back to the rides, she was just fascinated by the horses. There is a local petting zoo we go to sometimes and she talks about the pony she rides there all the time and I just want to encourage her if she really has developed a love for horses. My uncle bought me one, at his house well barn, when I was little (although I never rode it I was really small) but I remember feeding it apples and visiting it a lot.
I rode since I was an infant and both my 19m and 3 yr old ride in front of me or my father. My 3 yr old is starting to want to ride with out mom and so we are definitely babysitting. Even though I have done lessons for others, I think when they get bigger they will do lessons with my friend. It just depends on the child and the horse, and never forget the helmet.
I was plunked on a pony as soon as I could hold my own head up.
In the UK leadrein classes the minimum age is generaly 3yrs old to compete. I have a friend who's 4yr old daughter is doing very very well in the leadrein classes, she has all her up/downs sorted, she is starting to understand that she needs to steer her very patient little pony. It is not unusual to see 7 and 8 yrolds riding independantly at shows, infact the upper age limit on first ridden classes is 10yrs and most people try to get at least 3 yrs in the class.