According to the American Horse Council Foundation, there are over 7 million people involved in the horse industry in the U.S. Early introduction into the horse industry through horseback riding lessons can begin in early childhood. Is your child wanting to join their ranks?
The equestrian world can seem like a mysterious place to the uninitiated, with terminology and traditions that seem way beyond your grasp. It will all become second nature to you once your child has been riding for a while. For starters, all you need to worry about is how to dress them for their first horseback riding lessons.
Keep reading for a detailed explanation of what they will need for horseback riding lessons.
What Does a Beginner Horse Rider Need?
The most important thing a beginner horse rider should have is a qualified, dedicated instructor. Always choose a reputable riding school for your little one's introduction to horses and riding.
These first few riding lessons will shape their future as horsepeople.
Before you arrive at your child's first lesson, you'll need to invest in some apparel to ensure they're comfortable and safe in the saddle.
Speak to your chosen riding instructor about whether they have any gear available to hire. You could also borrow some items from friends when you're getting started.
Either way, there are a few items every rider needs from the outset. This varies slightly depending on whether your child takes Western or English horseback riding lessons.
Western vs English Horseback Riding
Before you go shopping for their equestrian clothing, or search for a horseback riding lessons instructor, you must find out whether your child wants to take up Western or English-style riding.
These two forms of horseback riding have a few similarities when it comes to building a partnership with a horse. Yet, they differ widely in most other respects.
The most noticeable difference is in the riding attire used for these two horseback riding disciplines.
What to Wear to an English-Style Horseback Riding Lesson
There are several types of English riding practiced today, and each of them has its own dress code. While shopping for riding gear, speak to the shop assistant about your needs. If you don’t, you could find yourself completely confused by the variety on offer.
You only need to worry about the basics at the outset when beginning your horseback riding lessons. These are:
- A Riding Helmet
- Riding Boots
- Riding Shirts and Pants
No reputable riding school or trainer for horseback riding lessons will allow your child to mount a horse unless they're wearing a correctly fitted ASTM certified riding helmet.
A riding helmet is vital for your child's safety if they fall off their pony or horse.
If their hat is too loose, it will fall off or shift before they hit the ground, leaving them vulnerable to serious injury. Too tight, and it will give them a headache before their lesson ends.
It's best to buy an adjustable helmet so that your child’s horseback riding lessons instructor can help you fit it correctly before the lesson starts.
It's never a good idea to buy a second-hand helmet. They're only rated for one impact, so unless you're certain the hat hasn't been in a fall, steer clear.
There are two types of riding boots available for English riders, i.e. long boots and short boots. Short boots, also known as Jodhpur boots, are best for beginners, as they allow greater ankle mobility for little legs.
Riding boots must have a heel at least 1 to 1½ inches tall. This prevents your child's foot from slipping through the stirrup while riding or during a fall. Ensuring proper fit will allow them to get the most from their horseback riding lessons.
Riding Shirts and Pants
A close-fitting t-shirt or collared shirt is best for both Western and English riding. Loose shirts, or shirts that ride up, look untidy, make it difficult for the instructor to correct your child's posture during their horseback riding lessons, and can be distracting. You should choose riding pants to suit the style of boot your child wears.
Jodhpurs extend to the ankle and fasten beneath the boot to prevent them from riding up. Breeches go with long boots and end just below the knee, so there isn't too much bulk around the ankle.
They should wear long socks with breeches to ensure comfort while riding.
Dressing for a Western Horseback Riding Lesson
We're all familiar with the basics of Western riding gear, from watching TV series and sitcoms. Yet, before they begin their horseback riding lessons, you need to get the finer details right when your child takes up this equestrian sport.
Your child can learn to ride Western style while wearing an English style helmet. Chances are they'll want to look the part, though.
Traditional cowboy hats are far cry from the collision-proof helmets used in English riding, but you do get reinforced hats nowadays that will keep your child's head a lot safer in the event of a fall.
Cowboy boots are the only option when riding western-style. Choose boots with a roper-style heel and leather soles that prevent their foot from becoming entangled in the stirrup during a fall.
Synthetic soles with slight traction also work well for Western riding, and they stand up to wear and tear longer than leather ones. These types of soles are more economical when beginning horseback riding lessons
Shirts and Pants for Western Riding
Jeans are the gold standard for western-style riding, so choosing the ride jeans for your child’s horseback riding lessons is important.
Make sure you pick a pair with no seam inside the leg or with an inside seam that isn't too prominent. Seams can chafe the child's leg while riding, causing great discomfort.
Jeans ride up when mounted on a horse, so your youngster should wear a pair that's a little longer than their everyday wear.
Book Your Lesson and Watch Your Child Thrive
When considering horseback riding lessons, it may seem daunting to watch your child entrust their life to such a powerful animal. Especially after reading about all the necessary safety measures.
You can rest assured that your chosen instructor and their faithful school horse or pony will take good care of them. At the lower levels, falling from a horse rarely leads to serious injury, anyway.
Horseback riding has much to offer children of all ages. It can help improve their coordination, discipline, confidence, and leadership skills.
Now that you know what to expect, schedule your child's first consultation here, and let's get them started with customized horseback riding lessons to suit their age and abilities.