Horse riding is not just a recreational activity, but a real school of life. Not only sports practice, but also the relationship that is created between the child and the horse, contribute to the harmonious physical and mental development.
The benefits of equestrian sports for a child
Riding includes many physical exercises that, even if practiced at a non-competitive level, make it a complete sport. All types of muscles work, posture improves, balance, dexterity and coordination develop.
From the first day of training, the child is asked to remain alert and calm so as not to irritate the horse. Children are taught to properly control the animal, to soften the gallop movement and to notice all the maneuvers with their own body. In just a month of daily training, the child will learn to anticipate the actions of the horse and prevent them in time.
Despite the fact that this is an individual sport, through communication with an animal, horseback riding develops a child’s sense of solidarity and equal participation in group sports, with the fundamental difference that a teammate is a more subtle player for interpretation and management than peers.
Unlike the equipment used in other sports, horseback riding helps to overcome fear, teaches you to distinguish between what the animal likes and what does not, and gradually comes the understanding of the cause of the horse’s anxiety. Emotional communication creates bonds of trust and “friendship” with the four-legged, which is a fundamental element in the growth of little riders.
Benefits for mental development:
- Ability to follow the rules
- development of patience
- formation of independent decision-making
- balance between personal needs and willingness to help
- reasoning, creativity, attention and memory.
Children hone their communication skills: unlike pets such as dogs and cats, the actions of a horse are not so easy to interpret, especially at the beginning of an acquaintance. Thus, the child learns to observe, capture the mood, control the tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and movements.
Horse riding is extremely useful for children who are shy and uncommunicative: they become more confident, as control over emotions actively develops. Another not unimportant advantage is the development of responsibility.
First of all, the horse needs care, if the young athlete does not comb the mane, feed and water his partner, then there will be no full trust, which means that he will not be able to win in the upcoming competitions. Care takes time and some effort, thanks to which the child realizes for the first time how much other living beings depend on a person.
A horse should not be left alone for a long time, unlike a toy, it requires attention. In addition, all animals have their own will and preferences, which the athlete must reckon with, and not ignore.
Hippotherapy for a child – positive aspects when recommended
Speaking about the benefits of horseback riding for children, one cannot fail to mention hippotherapy. One of the main goals of equestrian rehabilitation is to restore health or correct the physical development of a child with damage to the neuromotor system. In a healthy child, when riding a horse, all the muscles of the body work symmetrically, but when there are muscle deficiencies, when one muscle group tends to predominate over the other.
Hippotherapy helps to correct this deficiency through the rhythmic movements that the rider obeys so as not to lose balance. The undulating movement of the horse is transmitted to the rider, causing neuromuscular stimulation that has a positive effect on the cardiac and respiratory systems. There are also improvements in motor skills and psychological well-being.
Therapists recommend hippotherapy for children with the following disorders:
- Cerebral paralysis
- orthopedic problems
- traumatic brain injury
- cognitive-behavioral and language disorders
- down syndrome
Serious forms of scoliosis, myasthenia gravis, ataxia, osteoporosis, epilepsy, various types of phobias and panic attacks are contraindications.
Children and horses – at what age can you start
It is better to wait until the age of 10 to ride an adult horse, because at an earlier age the child’s muscles are not sufficiently developed, but even if the child is involved in other sports, it is not only about physical fitness.
Experts advise to pay attention to growth. When a child is not tall or tall and slender, even small learning errors can cause posture and hip problems.
This does not mean that preschoolers should not attend classes. For such kids, lessons are offered with ponies no more than a meter and forty centimeters tall from 6 to 7 years old. At this age, the child is already able to take care of himself and his friend, understand the preferences of the animal and keep himself in the saddle under the guidance of an instructor.