As the days get longer and the weather (maybe, perhaps, fingers crossed) starts to get kinder, I start thinking of outdoor activities for the kids. One of the favourites is horse riding, particularly with my eldest daughter. We haven’t the time or the housing for her own pony so she goes to a local riding stable where she has riding lessons and instruction on stable management. She loves it and I think it’s a great, healthy hobby and one that can be carried on throughout her life.
It got me thinking that it might be useful for other parents to find out about riding school recommendations and regulations, about what equipment the novice rider needs and about the benefits of riding as a sport for children. I contacted a friend, Lucy Dillon, who is a qualified riding instructor and she gave me lots of interesting information. The full article can be found in the Mimitoys PlayArticles section (www.mimitoys.ie/playarticles) but the main points can be summarised as:
- minimum age is around 7 years, when children are able to follow instructions, concentrate on what they are doing and are physically strong enough;
- The Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE) is the body responsible for monitoring riding stables and its website (www.aire.ie) lists all its accredited stables;
- you don’t need any kit to start as most stables will provide the essentials to new riders; and
- riding is a great way of getting fit, improving coordination and attention.
I think it’s interesting that even children who may not be particularly sporty can be good at riding and this can be a great confidence booster. As Lucy says “Everyone can ride a horse - the only thing holding you back is fear”.