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Hi,
My daughter has been obsessed with horses since she could say the word. She's young, age 6, but I found a woman who gives lessons and so we started her up about 6 months ago. She goes once a week and there's only her and another little girl in that lesson, so she gets a lot of personalized instruction. Well Allie fell off her horse last week and got a pretty nasty scrape inside her ear. I guess the horse decided to trot too close to a tree and she got caught in some branches. Thank goodness for helmets, because her helmet was scraped up pretty badly as well.... Anyhow... I spend the next day or so kind of shooken up wondering how safe this type of riding is. And what types of injuries might she possibly encounter. I'm a strong believer in letting her make some choices and helping her follow her dreams of riding. I guess my questions are the following:
1. Is 6 too young to start riding?
2. What life lessons will learning to ride a horse give her?
3. How do I emphasize safety to her and the instructor without being too alarmist?
Thanks for letting me vent and for possibly answering my Q's. I really want her to understand that riding horses is not easy, but that she can get a thrill by the challenge. Spending time at the barn has made me realize how special these animals are and I can understand why people fall in love with the sport.
 

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my mom had me on a horse before i could walk, haha but that was just sitting and sorta being led around. i dont think six is too young.
i have learned so many life lessons from horses its amazing, i have cryed because i messed up in the shows ring, my horse taught me to laugh at my mistakes. my horse tauht me to not care what people think of me,no matter what.
i have learned almost everything that makes me,me from horses. :) they truly are amazing creatures
 

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This is one of those "how long is a piece of string?" questions, riding is as safe or dangerous as you make it ... things influence what dangers there are, the horse/pony you're riding, where you are riding, the weather conditions, what you are doing, how often you ride ...

I'm sure everyone on here can regale you with "horror stories" about injuries they've sustained while riding/being around horses, only thing you'll notice is, very few of us have given up riding/being around horses! :D I don't think it's any more or less dangerous than gymnastics, ice skating, riding a bike ... If she's wearing a proper hard hat (ie one designed for horse riding) and a body protector they will lessen the risk of injury when she falls off (yes I said when, falling off isn't an optional extra!) odds are she'll get straight back up and get back on the pony again - biggest problem is her getting a fright.

Your daughter's age isn't necessarily a problem if she's the type who'll listen and absorb information she'll be fine, if she's the sort who has the attention span of a gnat then not so much - I've seen 8 year olds fall off because they were too busy admiring the scenery to pay attention to the lesson! I would advise 20 to 30 minute lessons for her tho' as she is very young.

best of luck!
 

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Welcome to the Horse Forum!!
Let me tell you my story... it might shake you up a bit, but hopefully my story can calm your fears a bit.
My name is Allie :) I'm in my early 20's and have been horse-crazy since I recognized what a pony was. I started lessons when I was 4, and by 5 I was showing in the nervous novice circuit in my area. I had my first fall just a couple of months (if that) after I started riding, and though my memory isn't great, I think we had been practicing trotting in a circle when something spooked my horse... I'm positive now that he just stopped in his tracks and didn't move a muscle otherwise. I distinctly remember shaking like a leaf, but getting back on, which was a very smart move.
Once you have your first fall, you realize it's not a big deal.
Since that first fall, I continued riding, and falling -- haha! I've fallen off more times than you can imagine, but it all led to me becoming a better, more confident rider. While I have had my share of injuries (broken arm, and a few concussions) the ride has been worth it and more.
Through my teens, I have to say that riding kept me on the straight and narrow. Nobody wants to go to the barn at 7 am to muck stalls with a hangover from an underage party the night before. I had goals much bigger than any parties or boys, and I do attribute my "goodie two shoes" teenagehood to my riding. Riding has given me something that I'm not sure I could get out of life otherwise.
Being with horses has taught me to be humble; there's nothing quite like having your ego knocked down a couple notches by a horse with a good "whoa." Horses have taught me patience; lessons aren't learned overnight, but there is an "aha!" moment at the end of the tunnel. Horses have taught me compassion; staying up all night with a sick horse rubs off on you. Riding has taught me balance; you have to give and take in life to make things work. Being with horses has taught me that there is something bigger in life than my here-and-now problems. I learned how to deal with people, from dealing with horses and their (sometimes crazy) owners. I learned how to apply the lessons I learned from riding to my everyday life as well.
There are so many life lessons I learned by being around horses, I cannot begin to express them adequately. What I do know is that for better or worse, I would not be the same person I am today if I hadn't had them in my life.
There is a fantastic little anecdote that really does the job that I cannot of voicing what horses have done to my life:

*Quote removed at request of author* http://www.trinityapp.com/

Unfortunately, I am unsure who the author of that story is.
I really hope that gives you some insight into the mind of a girl who has had the opportunity that you are giving to your daughter.

Now... let my put on my instructor's cap and tell you a few things from that side of the fence. Falls happen.... eventually, everyone falls off, and 99 out of 100 times, it's nothing major - which is why we don't want to make a big deal about it. We will make sure that the child is okay, but I personally won't coddle them, I will move on with the child and get them back on the horse. This is not because I want to be dismissive of the situation, but rather not make a big deal of it. Leading by example, if you will - not making a big deal of it, so the child doesn't think it's a huge deal. It's something you learn with working with horses, that is, don't over-react in a situation. Dealing with it calmly and rationally will get you a lot further ahead with a spooked horse (or child :p ) than running around scared half to death.
That's just an instructor's point of view :)



1. Is 6 too young to start riding? Not one bit. The youngest child I taught was 3 years old.
2. What life lessons will learning to ride a horse give her? See above :D
3. How do I emphasize safety to her and the instructor without being too alarmist? You can approach the instructor about your concerns, and by all means, voice your opinions, but please please please don't be one of those "smother mothers." I've dealt with my fair share of "smothers" and they over-react to every small situation. The child falls off? They're right there, hugging and moving the child and assuring them they'd be take to a doctor and never be allowed back on that horse....etcetc... you get the idea. There is a reason that we don't move a child - we assess how bad the fall is and if there is any reason to be concerned about a c-spine injury... once injury has been ruled out, we try our best to get them back on the horse - preferably the one they fell off of.



I hope my answers have helped!!
 

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I am 37 years old and I learned something about falling off from another mom last summer. My family and I were at a local fall "fun" show. Some kids ran up to us in the middle of the show and said a little girl's horse had started to buck. We thought she had fallen off her horse. So another Mom and I started racing out there to see how the little girl was. The little girl was on her pony, but you could see the fright in her eyes and she was definately visibly shaken. Before I could say anything, the other mom walked up to her and said, "Wow? You stayed on? High five!! What a great job!!"

That just stopped me in my tracks. I thought, wow..had I said anything to the little girl, I would have run up to her and asked her if she was ok, give her a hug....but I realized that the best way to have dealt with that was the way the other mom handled it. It took the fright completely off the little girl's face. She lit up with pride and distracted her enough to high five and get her composure back. Then she and her friends took off riding again. It was amazing transformation to witness.

Your daughter will probably fall off. More times than you'd probably like. Try to ensure her safety with helmets, a proper horse, proper riding area, and give her the strength and encouragement to get back on when she falls. It's amazing how different a child can react depending on how a situation is handled.
 

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Now... let my put on my instructor's cap and tell you a few things from that side of the fence. Falls happen.... eventually, everyone falls off, and 99 out of 100 times, it's nothing major - which is why we don't want to make a big deal about it. We will make sure that the child is okay, but I personally won't coddle them, I will move on with the child and get them back on the horse. This is not because I want to be dismissive of the situation, but rather not make a big deal of it. Leading by example, if you will - not making a big deal of it, so the child doesn't think it's a huge deal. It's something you learn with working with horses, that is, don't over-react in a situation. Dealing with it calmly and rationally will get you a lot further ahead with a spooked horse (or child :p ) than running around scared half to death.
That's just an instructor's point of view :)


I didn't see your post before posting my post...but I hope my post reaffirms how important it is a parent's attitude when they see their child fall off. How they handle it makes all the difference in a child's eyes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the replies. Allie's lessons are actually an hour and a half, much of that time is spent grooming, tacking, untacking etc. She's actually on the horse for about 40 minutes. She is a quick learner and has a good attention span. So maturity-wise, she's fine. I'm not a smother-mother... lol. When she told me about her spill, I just said, "wow, that happens, it's the first of many falls". She didn't cry or get spooked by the fall. But she did say that she doesn't want to ride that horse again. He's kind of hard to ride and somewhat lazy. So she may request a change of horse. We'll see.

Thanks esp for the bit on the life lessons. I've heard before that girls who are horse crazy tend to stay out of trouble. While that's not my first intention, it's a bonus for sure. We feel fortunate that we can give her this opportunity. It isn't cheap, but I think it's well worth the money, if she is reaping the rewards from it. She definitely wants to continue, and so I'll support that, but the last thing I want is a kid in a wheelchair because I let her choose a risky sport. But it can happen in nearly any situation. I do enjoy going to the barn with her, watching her groom and get on this gigantic animal. It's definitely a trip, I've never been a horse person myself, but I get it. I really get the appeal. Thanks again.
 

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I am 37 years old and I learned something about falling off from another mom last summer. My family and I were at a local fall "fun" show. Some kids ran up to us in the middle of the show and said a little girl's horse had started to buck. We thought she had fallen off her horse. So another Mom and I started racing out there to see how the little girl was. The little girl was on her pony, but you could see the fright in her eyes and she was definately visibly shaken. Before I could say anything, the other mom walked up to her and said, "Wow? You stayed on? High five!! What a great job!!"

That just stopped me in my tracks. I thought, wow..had I said anything to the little girl, I would have run up to her and asked her if she was ok, give her a hug....but I realized that the best way to have dealt with that was the way the other mom handled it. It took the fright completely off the little girl's face. She lit up with pride and distracted her enough to high five and get her composure back. Then she and her friends took off riding again. It was amazing transformation to witness.

Your daughter will probably fall off. More times than you'd probably like. Try to ensure her safety with helmets, a proper horse, proper riding area, and give her the strength and encouragement to get back on when she falls. It's amazing how different a child can react depending on how a situation is handled.
Brilliant post!! I love the reaction of the mother in the first paragraph - perfect!!

I absolutely agree with the last paragraph too. My mother swore off my riding for a decade as I had a bad fall and she didn't want to see it happen again. That was fine, but a big rift happened between us that really hasn't repaired itself... I guess I'm still upset that she wouldn't watch me ride through my childhood.
You can minimize the risk, for sure. You can make sure she has a properly fitted helmet that is replaced every few years. You can buy her a body protector. Make sure she's on an age and experience appropriate pony or horse. Check out the instructor and ask tonnes of questions... but falls are going to happen, it's part of the learning process -- I was told as a child that "you're not a real rider till you fall off at least 100 times!" and I've lived by that.
 

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1. Is 6 too young to start riding?
2. What life lessons will learning to ride a horse give her?
3. How do I emphasize safety to her and the instructor without being too alarmist?
1. No. I took my 6 yo niece riding on my friends pony. We were in an enclosed arena, she wore a helmet and closed shoes. She actually lasted about 40 minutes before she had had enough. She loved the grooming and learning how to tack up. She had a good time trying to steer and trotting. I can't wait for next spring when I can take her again and also her little sister.
2. Respect for all creatures, responsibility, patience, friendship, etc Horses are such a huge comittment, I think there is so much to learn from them no matter how young or old. If you take her to a riding school where they learn how to care for the horses and equipment she will learn so much more than how to ride.
3. Go watch a lesson or two at some local riding schools you are considering. Make sure the students are wearing helmets and boots, that arena/stables/equipment is well maintained, that the people are friendly and caring towards the horses and are actually interested in teaching everything to do with horsemanship, not just how to sit pretty on a pony. A stable like that I am sure will understand any concerns for safety you may have. Maybe even go and have a lesson your self :)

There is just so much to learn and love with horses. I love to share my passion of horses with everyone who is interested :)
 

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I can't vouch for a good starting age, but your post reminds me of my little sister's friend when they were young. She had a 7 year old friend. I don't know what made this girl the nervous wreck, but the poor thing would drop and glass and just go to tears. She was a mess! A year later, I came home from college and saw the same girl. She was completley different. She was calm, self confident. The change was amazing. I asked her what she had been up to, and she said she had been taking dressage lessons the past year. Something about riding horses gives (most) children a sense of self worth and respect for both themselves as well as the horses. It just does wonders for them.

Yes horseback riding can be dangerous, but if you find the right instructor, one who doesn't measure her success on how many riders her horses toss, I'm sure it will be a great experience for your daughter.
 

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Ok, short attention span tonight, so I didn't read all the posts, I'll just post my story! ;D

I'm Alexandra(everyone on her calls me Alex though.), I'm 14(turning 15 in less than a month WOHOOOOO! I CAN DRIVE! {legally ;)}) and have been riding for the last 8 years of my life. I started when I was around 7, but I have been around horses my whole life. My mom rode hunters and some eventers before she had me and my little brother, and my family has also owned racehorses for the last 30 so years, so I grew up LOVING horses and everything horsy.

I started riding with a certified coach in my area and LOVED her! I bought my first horse from her, and compeated in hunters for awhile. I then switched trainers and hated it. The lady was VERY rude, and uncertifed, so I picked up alot of bad habbits, and didin't like riding anymore. A year and a half ago, I started riding with my first trainer(who does eventing) again. She has/is fixing all my bad habbits, and has brought me to jumping 2'9-11" and doing full events on my new horse in that short period of time. So moral of the story, a good trainer is unreplaceable!

On the subject of unplanned dismounts..... I stopped counting mine. I stopped getting scared after a couple times, because my trainer always made me get back on and get that horse over that jump, or sit that buck. It all comes with riding, which is kinda why I like it. I like having to concentrate 100%.

Horses and life lessons seem to go together like two peas in a pod. My horses have taught me responsability, medical skills, never ending love, presistance, paciance, love, strength, how to be firm and gentle at the same time, love, how to be a leader, they help me deal with stress better, and love. Oh, and I don't feel like I need a boyfriend, because I have a horse. ;) (probably half the reason my parents got me into riding......)

A good instructor will always emphize safty around the horses. Mine still reminds us of safty! lol!

Riding really is the best sport out there because the bond you can form with a horse is unfathumable.
 

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Riding is a fun thing, and a horse can really influence your life.
In horse back riding you are bound to fall off at least once.
I'm 16 years old, going on 17, been riding since I was 9 going on ten.
I've fallen off so many times I can no longer count. Sustained all sorts of injuries from a little scrape/bruise, to a severe concussion [I'm really not trying to scare you though sorry if my tales do >.> I have no intentions to scare you I promise]
My mom also rides, she's shared many tumbles also.
[Btw, I really recommend horses as a great mother daughter bonding experience, my horse has brought me and my mother to best friend status.]
It toughens you up, you get back up and want to try again.
When I was a beginner learning how to ride it was somewhat like learning how to ride a bike.
You fall off. Get back on, learn a bit more and get a bit better each time! :)
No particular riding discipline is safer than the other, whether your riding your horse english, western, or just moseying around on a trail ride, accidents can always happen.
So basically there is no way to say that any discipline outplays another in the form of safety!

Riding is a wonderful recreational activity, keeps me out of trouble ;) [not like I have much trouble to get into.]
It's a wonderful bonding experience, your daughter may bond with the horses at the stables, she may want a horse of her own someday! And as I previously stated it's a wonderful mother daughter bonding experience, even just going there and watching her ride is good!
Your daughter will probably learn lessons on responsibility, in grooming and tacking the horses.
Does she also do anything around the barn to help care for the horses? Like pick up behind them and such? Those are great things too.

As stated by previous posters, a good instructor will emphasize safety, she should always wear a helmet.
Good luck :)
 

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Thanks for all the replies. I watched her at the last lesson and I can tell she is getting better and that she is enjoying herself. I didn't even talk to the instructor about her fall last week. I know those sorts of things happen. I think I was just spooked. I think I am going to start taking her to some local shows to give her a new perspective and to see how good she can be one day. I hope that through horse riding she learns to be a more confident and responsible person. She's little and her instructor said it takes some time for her to develop strength and muscle memory. She'll get there though. I told her that maybe I want to start taking lessons with her, but she really wasn't into that idea... lol. That's ok, I'd rather spend the money for her to ride.
 

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Going to shows is a fantastic idea!! Jumping shows (hunter/jumper) will be much more interesting than a flat show, like dressage - just something to keep in mind when choosing which shows to go see :)
I think it is fantastic that you are so supportive of her. I had a bad fall when I was 8 that made my mom swear off my riding, and my dad took over. I think I got a pretty good concussion then because I don't remember a whole heck of a lot before the fall haha. In any case, my dad took over my riding career and took me to lessons etc for 10 years. When he was unable to take me, my mom would drive me out, but she wouldn't watch or even set foot in the barn unless it was absolutely necessary - that put a big rift in our relationship. I was, and still am to some extent, closer with my dad, and I'm sure it's due to the countless hours he spent with me at the barn... he'd always groom out my mare, Dancer's, tail to make it all pretty for me. (gosh, I'm tearing up just writing this! I need to go give him a hug.)
Now, I work part-time in a tack store, and see all these mothers and daughters come in and they're so connected.. even some of the teenagers. It's really great to see, and I swear there's just something about horses...
 

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hi! ive just started this website and i think your senerio is pretty common.
i started riding at 6 too and i think if your worried about cuts or scrapes i'd try to cut back the branches that hang into the ring. Also i'd make sure the ring shes riding in has softer footing, because screenings can scrape easily. ive fallen MANY times and now ive lost track how many but falling off lets you learn from your mistakes. at 8 years old i was riding a wirey of-the-track thoroughbred mare. nobody at the barn liked her, but she was always good for me. getting your daughter the right horse is a good thing too :) but 1 more thing; after a fall in a helmet, for safety reasons i would get another one to be sure it still is working properly.
good luck with Allie!
 

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ive been taking lessons since i was 4 and riding since i was 2, i never really got hurt to bad with horses until i started retraining abused horses at age 13 but it is something i'm so glad my mom let me do. she always told me she was scared but knew i was stubborn and had to let me bc it made me sooooo happy. it teaches responsability, teamwork and listening plus many other good things. wether she is riding or any other sport u have to face the fact that ur little baby girl will get hurt some way.... i started letting my nephew ride my horses since he was 2yrs old as well and walks them around by himself at age 6, my sister trusts me and the fact that i trust my horses. my trainer had her little girl riding before she could walk as well and started jumping at age 4! i plan on teaching my kids to ride before they can walk too.
 

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Theres things that can go wrong in any sport, but it does have to be said that riding is dangerous because there will be unfortunate times where you're not in control of your horse. However, your daughter has an instructor and you should trust that she will keep her safe. It's best if you have some knowledge yourself as you will be able to make better decisions. When I was young, my mum was paranoid about some aspects of riding, and oblivious to other dangers (I used this to my advantage :lol:).

Maybe you could have a lesson or two with your daughter? I know for a fact she will love to share it with you, I used to (and still do) beg my family to come with me to see my pony. Even if they just patted her on the head I'd be thrilled because I was sharing something I loved. :D

As for communicating your fears with her instructor, it shouldn't be hard. Just tell her you're worried and if she's not sympathetic and helpful then I suggest your change riding schools. It will only get harder the longer you're daughter rides.

I'm sorry to say that every rider has AT LEAST one bad experience and the best you can do is take it slow and wear body protector and hat.

Happy Riding Career to BOTH of you :lol: .. x
 

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Ok, I gots a couple of things to add!

A) See if you can go to an eventing show. The show season starts up soon(later next month) and eventing is really exciting to just go out and watch! I still go out and just sit on the Cross Country and watch.

B) Stick around this site to learn a little! I know one of the things that helps me is that my mom used to ride Dressage, and she knows so much about that disapline of riding. She also has just basic knowledge, like seeing if the horse is a little off, etc.

C) Learning about horses can really keep your daughter safe too. A girl I ride with recently bought a horse (who is an AMAZING horse for the right person) but she is just so tiny, riding this strong horse is hard for her, they just don't click well. So, when looking for horses in the future, always look at MANY MANY MANY horses before you buy one. I rode like 10 before I found my Geof-y boy!
 
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CUTTTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Vida!
 
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