I love the fact that riding horses is a healthy physical outdoor activity, but the life skills learned through supervised horsemanship carry farther than becoming fit. By supervised horsemanship I mean a riding lesson program that encompasses horse care as well as riding. Even better is a good riding lesson program that supports Pony Club or 4-H horsemanship where a child can become involved in team goals.
The more time a child can spend with horses the more potential they have for developing good skills. Horsemanship life skills will carry into a child’s adulthood and will help your child succeed in life.
No matter where a person ends up in life they need to be able to communicate with others. Our ability to communicate well is pivotal to our success among our peers, in family life, and in business.
A child who works with horses communicates with a large animal who doesn’t speak their language. They develop different ways to get their point across and they learn to listen to the needs of someone else, the horse.
They learn to respect another being.
Horses teach valuable lessons in team work. Good communication allows a horse and rider to work as a team. Involvement with other riders through, Pony Club, 4-H, or the riding school’s show team, teaches team work with other people.
Riding and handling horses and ponies presents a myriad of opportunities to work out solutions to problems. Problem solving could be as simple as how do I get on a giant horse when I can’t get my foot up high enough to reach the stirrup. Or it may involve finding a way to convince the horse to do something when it objects.
Horses have physical issues such as lameness or wounds. Horsemanship teaches a child how to deal with crisis and difficult situations.
Riders learn to handle the unexpected and think on their feet.
Kids involved with horses have to focus and concentrate. Some horses can actually tell when you’re not paying attention to them.
Life is full of problems. Developing problem solving skill sets help an adult get their job done.
Kids who grow up with horses persevere. From the first time they try to put a halter on a pony they discover persistence triumphs. They practice and try new things. Then they try again until it’s right. They learn that riding takes practice and that they can succeed if they keep trying.
Horse kids know it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, or whether you’re tired, or don’t feel like it, you still have to take care of your horse.
When kids ride and show horses they learn to compete. They experience how to win well and also how to lose. Life is competitive. Your adult child will compete for a job through an interview and then will compete in the work place through job performance. Learning to compete honestly and well is part of life.
Kids involved in horsemanship learn to take risks and they develop courage and self-confidence.
The responsibility that goes with caring for a horse is huge. Horses need to be fed regularly and on time. They require certain amounts of fresh water every day and a clean place to live. They cannot even clean their own hooves of rocks or mud.
As a child takes on the responsibility of caring for a horse they develop even more physical skills, as well as the ability to observe and assess. They learn to determine if their horse is not well or if he has a special need.
Horseman and women take responsibility for their actions. They deal with, and overcome failure, changes of plans, and disappointments.
Taking care of a horse teaches a child not to give up. There could be long nights walking a colicky animal. Cooling a horse down after a ride might take almost as long as the ride itself. Horse kids keep trying.
Involvement with horses in the correct setting will help your child to develop a work ethic that will carry into adult hood. The training that teaches they must get up every morning to take care of the horse, or they must practice in order to be able to compete, or they must do a good job to pass a rating all add up to good work ethic. A child that loves a horse learns to keep their word, to be reliable and to work hard. They know a job worth doing is worth doing well.
A good work ethic is a very positive attribute in an adult.
The Best Part
The thing I like best about children learning life skills through horsemanship is the approach. If a child loves horses and learns to care for and handle them, these skills develop out of passion. They become true life skills, part of the child, and they stick. Life skills learned through horsemanship will become an integral part of your adult child.
What can you add to this list of horsemanship life skills?
Thank you for reading The Riding Instructor.
Here’s to many happy hours spent with horses.
Barbara Ellin Fox