My daughter just turned 1, she is pretty well coordinated (been walking since 9mo).
I was thinking I might start taking her for pony rides this summer on my gentle older mare (with helmet of course, and another person to lead).
Any advice would be appreciated- she's our first and only, so no prior experience with toddlers on horseback!
I don't have kids, but I vault with a group that has a lot of toddlers come for drop-in lessons or on the team. I think the youngest have been around 2 1/2, and they start out double, with Mom or one of the older classmembers up there with them. They start out walk only for at least the first few times. Some of them do compete at the walk on their own, after they've been doing it for a few months, but with a spotter/instructor right there next to them.
Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.
DD started lessons at 3 and kept it up until she was 5 and growing mobility of of 3rd daughter made it too difficult. She was quite bitter until age 9 or 10 when I was able to get her started again.
At age 3 she was mostly being led around although she did learn to steer and stop at the walk. By 5 she was steering over poles and doing a little trot work. I can't remember how consistent we were back then but she loved it.
I think he was 3, and just rode my gelding on my bareback pad for a minute, in circles, with me and daddy at side. He was scared of the horses then, but watching the Triple Crown races made him want to be like a jockey LOL (he'll never be jockey sized past the age of probably 11)...
This year, at age 5, he's decided he wants to go trail riding with me on his pony, but had to be western like mom's saddle, same color too We'll see how long this lasts. Anyone got a cheap 12" western medium oil saddle that might get used 5 times?
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My kids have all been babies, pretty much from the time they were old enough to sit up. We had a basket when they were really small. And they rode double with us when we were cooling out a horse from about a year old. they all had helmets, and were never alone until they could steer and stop.
Dd is now 6 and walks trots canters and jumps her made and green pony. Its NEVER too soon as long as you are careful! And finding the first PERFECT pony is so much fun!!
If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.
My DD sat in the saddle in front of me for her first rides at 10 months of age. We did not do that very often, and I remember when she was old enough to talk and came out for a ride, when I said that Peppy was done, she said "I don't think so!", so we had to walk one more circuit of the ring to appease her. She was in her first lead line class at a schooling show when she was two months shy of 3 years old. Here is a picture of us:
She has always had excellent balance, and I credit my husband for that, when she was old enough to sit up on her own, he would put her up on his shoulders, and trot and gallop through the house with her. He did this until she got too big for that game.
I taught my daughter to ride on my 15.2 hand saint of a QH, and all lessons were on a lead line until she was about 6 years old.
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams
My mom had me up on a horse before I was six months old. When I got big enough to not need somebody hanging on to my leg, mom would set me up on one of the gentle horses whenever she had to be doing anything around them. She figured the odds of a horse accidentally stepping on me would be greater than the odds of me getting tossed.
very first 'ride'? TimexJr was 6 weeks old, and we plopped him on top of the Old Grey Nag (holding on to him of course) and took a few pics of him 'riding'. the look on the OGNs face was priceless. but pretty much as soon as he could sit with some semblance of balance we'd do pony rides, and let him do more and more as his motor skills progress. he's 6 now, w/t, has cantered once or twice, steers pretty well and does pretty well at the local gymkana in his Pee Wee division.
We had my oldest (now 2.5yrs) up for pictures very very young (holding her from the ground), and she's been tooling around on the lead line with a side walker since about 12mo. Last summer (18mo-2yrs) she showed leadline on a SAINT of an old show pony, and was starting to steer and stop at the walk on her own (with pony still on a lead, just starting to think about it) and she could post the walk a bit. Taking the winter off because its not fun for ANYONE, though she askes to ride daily! This spring-fall we'll be doing the same thing as long as she asks to do it. My youngest (11mo) has sat a few times, but he'd rather crawl around chasing the cats. lol If he ever wants to ride (and we'll keep low key offering as he gets old enough to know whats going on), it's there, if not, no biggie!
6 months (holding her, of course). Riding on her own balance at 18 months being led (and jumped her first ditch at that age; thought I'd killed my baby when I felt the pony collect and jump, I didn't see the 6" furrow in the lawn. When I looked back, she was solidly in the saddle and grinning ear to ear, saying "Do 'gain Daddy!"). Riding on her own at 3-4, lead line classes at 4-5 (she'd ride the pony on her own up to the ring, then her sister would clip a lead to her for the class), solid season showing a 1500 pound AQHA horse at 6, canter classes with a double bridle ASB Pleasure at 7 (legs too short to cue the canter so she taught him canter cues from the whip), hunters at 8, and has evented ever since. Prelim at 14, Intermediate/NAYRC at 17, advanced at 20; now riding/training professionally/full time. Be careful what you wish for.
I put mine on with me or a family member since they were 6 weeks old. Now, keep in mind, that my daddy and or my uncle, both experienced horsemen, were there with me, and I was on dead broke horses.
I gotta tell this one though. I was leading my buddy's retired saint of a barrel mare through my back yard with my then 2.5 nearly 3 yr old dd on her. DD was tiny, and the mare was an easy 16.1 I let go of the bridle for some reason, and when I turned back, Jamie had turned Misty away from me and those little legs were just pounding away like butterflys on crack. Misty just was not even noticing (how could she, Jamie's legs didn't even reach the fenders of the stirrups good) and was just walking on along slow and easy as always. I asked Jamie where she was going. Her little reply? "I gonna run a barrel Mommy." I wish I had had a picture. That mare was such a saint.
My little one went for her first ride around 6 months of age. Sitting in front of Mommy with Daddy walking nearby. She is 19 months old now.
My mare walks likes she is on eggshells when the little one is on her back. She loves to ride with Mommy leading and Daddy spotting. Her little head is just now large enough to fit her cute little helmet. She says whoa and giddy-up complete with a tush push. LOL
We teach leadline lessons on our Fjords. Our starting age is 4, but I know I have had some 3 1/2 year olds sneak in. All horses are on a leadline. The kids learn to walk, turn, halt, back, and go over ground poles, They do trail stuff, like putting letters in a mail box. They learn to trot in hand (instructor, not parent dealing with the trot.) Lessons are 30 minutes.
Going off line is a bigger issue because of physical development and emotional maturity of the rider. Horses are not like robots and a number of the younger kids get frustrated with it. Of course they don't have the strength or skills to correct some of the behavior, either. I have pretty saintly horses, but they are horses, not robots.
PA, where the State motto is: "If it makes sense, we don't do it!".
Before you start your one year old on horseback you might want to confer with someone who is certified to teach riding in a therapeutic setting. At one the child's skeletal system may not be able to handle the stress of riding.
I have a smattering of therapeutic experience and I do know there is sufficient instability you can have a snap between the T-1 and T-2 vertebrae that can result in death.
Before anyone jumps on me-- it's better to be safe than to create sadness where it doesn't have to occur..... At your daughter's age there is more to worry about than simply using a helmet....
"Good gardening is very simple, really. You just have to learn to think like a plant." ~Barbara Damrosch~