BY LEXI CLARK
What the heck is a jodhpur, and why is my child so obsessed with horses?! How many times have you seen the confused looks on the faces of non-horsey people as you talk about horses? How many of those times were they the parents of a sweet lead line child at the horse show? I know the struggle, and want to help give non-horsey parents a leg to stand on with a list of questions to ask as they begin the wonderful world of horses.
So, your little one loves ponies and has requested horseback riding lessons. How cool! It’s time to raise a little equestrian. It can be intimidating to involve your child in something so all consuming that you might not know anything about, but that’s okay. Here’s a little starter pack of information that can help you and your little rider learn the ins and outs of riding in a lesson program.
First, be informed about your barn and program. All lesson programs are different, and require varied amounts of commitment. There are some things that I would recommend asking yourself before getting involved.
- How involved do you want your rider to be?
- How many lessons per month?
- Do you want to horse show?
- What’s your budget for this hobby?
- How much equipment are you willing to invest in? (Clothes, saddle, horse, etc)
- Are you interested in purchasing a horse? And how soon do you want to purchase?
- What is your end goal for your rider? To be competitive, to have fun, to see if they really like it?
It’s ok if you don’t know the answer to some of these things, but trying to establish goals and budget can help you in finding the perfect program for your child. Once those are decided, your program can help you determine the rest of your decisions with riding.
In addition to asking yourself, don’t be afraid to ask your lesson program questions! Get to know their goals and expectations for you and your rider. Here are some common things to ask.
- What sort of requirements do you have for my rider to be involved in your program?
- How many lessons each month/week are suggested/required?
- Do you provide horse and equipment (saddle, bridle, grooming tools, etc)
- What sort of attire do you expect from the rider (breeches, boots, belt, collared shirt, chaps, jodhpurs, etc)
- Each lesson, what do you expect from my rider? (Catch horse, tack up, warm up)
- How much time should a lesson take?
- How early should we arrive for a lesson?
- How much time should we expect to commit to your program each week? Each month?
- What are some of the services you provide? (Lessons, horse training, horse sales, help us find a horse if we want one, horse shows, hauling, etc)
- How much do you charge for a lesson?
- What kind of budget should I expect for the goals I have established?
Each program is unique, and can require different things. For example, some programs require that you have your own horse or an intent to purchase one. Or something less extreme, require you to wear boots and breeches to each lesson. Maybe if you want to horse show you are required to have a weekly lesson or lease a show horse. Each program tailors to different wants/needs. Don’t be afraid to try somewhere else if it is something different than what you are looking for. Just set your expectations and you should easily be able to determine what barn is right for you and your child.
Being a part of a lesson program can be amazing for your little rider. It teaches them responsibility, confidence and develops their emotional intelligence. It’s a great thing to be involved in and can shape somebody for their life ahead. Good luck Non-horsey Moms. You got this.
PS don’t be intimidated by the horses. They are easily won over!
Lexi Clark works in the Agriculture industry as an Appraiser for a lending agency. She is an avid amateur rider who is developing her own at home farm and horses. She is always looking for ways to help create a safe atmosphere for people to explore their love of horses.