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post #1 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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I have two toddlers I want to get into riding. I've taken them out one by one to ride a gentle horse in the ring while sitting on my lap. I'm more interested in formal lessons. What age did you start your kids and would you've waited longer or started sooner if you could do it all over again?
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 07:56 PM
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Two of mine expressed interest in riding and horses at a really young age, I started them both riding around 5 years old for the older one and 4 for the younger one. The next two in the birth order have expressed no interest in riding and are actually opposed to learning to ride. My youngest is 7 now and she just recently expressed an interest in riding so she will start lessons this year most likely. Basically I just started them as they expressed interest and the ones that didn't I let it be. I found in my own growing up life that I pretty much hate everything my parents forced me to do but the stuff I wanted to do on my own I still enjoy to this day. I figured with my own kids I wouldn't force anything on them that wasn't a needed life skill e.g. piano lessons, I hated going to them as a kid and I dislike playing the piano to this day. Now if it is something like picking up their rooms and helping with chores, yes they get forced to do that whether they like it or not but for the extra stuff, I let them tell me when they are interested in learning.
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 08:23 PM
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I started my daughter at 6. That was really young, and the instructor told me she doesn't normally start them until they're 8, but my daughter was pretty focused and mature, so she gave her a chance, and it worked out. But honestly, those first couple of years she didn't learn much other than getting a feel for the horse. They're just too young to be well coordinated and balanced before that age. I'd do it again, because my daughter got to spend time with horses, and develop a love for them, but I don't think it gives them much in the way of riding skills. And I definitely would not start them before 6. They just can't do enough by themselves before that. On average, I would agree that serious riding lessons (ie, off the lead/lunge line) should start around 8.
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 08:36 PM
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I should probably clarify that when I "started" I mean I put them in a saddle and lead them around. They didn't start riding lessons until they were of an age where they could balance well enough to start simple exercises while mounted. I don't remember exactly what age that was? I'm going to guess it was around kindergarten for my two oldest boys and between 2nd and 3rd grade for my youngest daughter.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 09:38 PM
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My husband would not watch the kids while I rode, so I started taking my son at age 13 months, when he could walk securely, in case there was a problem, I could let him down off the horse and he could walk away (never had to do that, but just in case). I had a good solid rock steady horse and I took him in front of me almost every ride. I started putting him behind me at about age 3 or 4. At 6, he started riding his own horse with me ponying him, and at 8, he started riding off the leadline. By 12, he rode like a centaur.

I started my daughter at 9 months because by then my horse and I were so used to having a baby along, we had no worries. It was many long years of boring short rides--I always quit when the kids said they had had enough--never made them ride longer.

Happily for me, we never had a problem, and both kids are fine riders, though they don't love it like I do. They do have good memories of lots of fun rides. I made sure the riding I did with them was things they liked. They liked to ride to a nearby park, tie the horses, and play on the equipment. My daughter loved breakfast rides of hearty breakfasts with thermoses of hot cocoa. My son loved rides where we'd tie the horses and fish for a couple of hours.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-15-2019, 09:45 PM
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@knightrider , you bamboozle me regularly!

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post #7 of 11 Old 04-16-2019, 11:14 AM
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My niece was started at 7 yrs old. I think around that age is when they really start to understand and appreciate the sport. Makes it much easier to teach and still early enough for them to learn a lot about the responsibility that comes along with it.
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-16-2019, 03:06 PM
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My trainer, personally, wonít take anyone under about 4ish, as kids under that age tend to lack the balance and coordination, strength, control, and etc. to even be led around, and he would rather not sit in the saddle with them because of liability.... edit: also, on the off chance that a kid on the young side has a bad experience, it will be more likely to make them dislike horses... not because they will remember it but they wonít be able to understand /why/ the pretty pony in the pasture kicked/spooked/bit their fingers instead of the carrot that they wanted to feed them.... they will have that pain/fear, no matter how small, in their memory... some may get over it and learn to love horses while others, like my brother, will remain permanently uneasy... he can come near Duncan, but due to his size and his tendency to spook (although he really is a good, gentle boy) my brother will never be comfortable around him.

I started at a different barn around 6... had I started at this barn I probably wouldnít have continued riding. The dust and dirt, early mornings and late nights, sweat, and hard work would have turned 6-8 year old me off. It all depends. If you feel like your kids are capable, if you trust the person responsible for your kids, and if your kids show interest? Go for it.

When I was at my original barn, it was all fun things that I liked to do, as @knightrider mentioned. I wasnít pushed to do anything; if I petered out 10 minutes into the lesson, we had a 10 minute lesson. Most of my early riding memories are going on trail rides and picking raspberries/blackberries, swimming through a little river on a trustworthy steed, and etc.... my mother has a picture of me at about 7, holding the lead rope while the Shetland I normally rode stood on an elevated platform. I was apparently pretending to be running a circus I enjoyed it, and I stuck with it.... donít expect your kids to love the sport, though. Iíve encountered a great number of parents that get upset when their kid doesnít show well or a practice doesnít turn out as they wanted... the kid obviously isnít happy and the horse can pick up on it. Not saying that you are that way or are going to be that way but make sure youíre doing this for their benefit... let them have fun!
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Last edited by ThatRoanHorse; 04-16-2019 at 03:14 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-16-2019, 03:37 PM
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I've no kids of my own so my input is a lot less helpful, but my instructors have two little boys. The youngest is 4 and the oldest is... 5 or 6 maybe? The oldest is starting to ride some on his own, but these are rock solid horses (as much as a horse could be I suppose.) For the youngest, the wife has an absolutely adorable seat that attaches to her saddle and he rides behind. They said they had mini horses for the kids at one point and ended up getting rid of them because they would always fall off and eventually said, "Daddy, we like big horses, we don't want to ride those."
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-16-2019, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for your experiences and input. My kids are 5 and 3 and head over heels about horses. Always begging me to let them ride. I definitely don't want to ruin it for them by turning things formal. I will likely wait a few years until they tell me they're ready. Until then, easy exposures and interactions to keep them comfortable.
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