I would have loved it if my parents had gotten me a horse, or started letting me ride a horse before I turned 9 lol. That being said, I'm not a parent yet, we are trying to start a family, but I definitely want to get a child safe mini to start with, and start putting my kids up on horses as soon as I feel that they have enough balance to stay on safely while being led around. I think working with horses, is great for a child's self esteem, builds character, teaches responsibility, and keeps them out of trouble (for the most part). Of course there is always the finding them parked in the corner of the horses stall just hanging out, while you are freaking out trying to find them. (Had a friend who that happened to). I honestly would pay them no mind. You know your child and your horses better than anyone else, and so you know what's safe and what's not. Besides, much better than sticking them in a stroller, or playpen and telling them to entertain themselves while you ride. I watch the Pioneer Woman on food network, and I can tell you her kids have been riding probably since they could walk. The youngest (I'm just going from how old the kids look) was helping round up and move cattle at like 7 years old. I'm not sure how young they all were when they started helping dad out. No helmets, and no leadline for them. And they are all doing just fine. I would keep doing what you are doing, and let your children have fun.