I have to admit I took DD to the barn a ton when she was in an infant carrier- but once she started walking I usually just left her home as managing her and a horse just didn't feel safe (other than special visits.) All of a sudden at 3 though she listens well, I can tell her to stand somewhere and wait for me. I have her walk along the outside of the pasture fence with me while I get my horse. All of a sudden it seem manageable to bring her and get both quality time with her and my horse.
So- I curious about others' experiences with pre-school aged kids at the barn. Safety tips, rules, what you had them do (She loves to sweep.) Basically any advice for keeping her safe and having fun at the barn.
Also, I think she would totally love it if I got her some brushes of her own - any good toddler grip ones? She has trouble holding some of mine.
BTW- we are visiting my boarded retired horse who will be 24 on Friday- so we just brush and feed treats. The barn is at a house where they have 3 children- so it's a mellow child friendly place, not a big show barn.
Insomnia has the best of me and I need to be asleep right now, but I did this with my daughter. We had a lot more going on in and around the barn. I got her a set of teensie brushes - didn't matter what the bristles were so we ended up getting some face type brushes and there was a whole line of pony grooming equip. While it was still too big, she managed. How cool that you are taking her! I would love to go back to those days because I was so busy, I sadly took them for granted.
I got a little rake and wheelbarrow for my niece and she helped muck out my mare's stall with me.
Great memories....I remember being there late afternoon as the sun was starting to set and as we picked the stall, little dust motes drifted around and sparkled in the sumbeam coming through the stall window. Emily was in awe as she thought they were "fairies" flying around. She is in college now and I kid her about it every chance I get.
She had a wheelbarrow, rake and her own set of brushes and she would help me groom.
Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Bernard M. Baruch
Well, my children and my saint of a horse survived. I do remember yelling at my 3 year old daughter throwing a tantrum outside the ring while I was riding my horse, my son was tucked in his carseat in the ring, my horse thought I was yelling at him and became upset and did every trick he knew before I realized he thought I was mad at him....Fun times....
I have a 3.5 and we have a farm. You have to be very careful at this age. 99% of the time they will stay where you put them, but that other 1% they can get into a lot of trouble fast around machinery, horses, etc. so I don't ride while mine is at the barn.
On the other hand, I do take him out to the barn a lot -- every day when the weather is good and many times when it isn't. he loves playing in the ring footing sand, picking up poop, playing in the stalls, playing in the grain bins/hay room, playing in the horse trailer, etc. We have a safe pony he can brush/pet, and he can feed them all treats, etc. It's really fun to have him around and I can do things like clean tack, sweet the aisle, pick stalls and feed while he is occupied (or helping me).
As a boarder I will say that I get very nervous when other barn folks have very young (pre schoolers) in the barn. IMO small unpredictable humans and large unpredictable horses are not a good combination. That being said my BO has a rule that all young children must wear a helmet at all times in the barn which I think is wise. All horses can kick while in the aisle or on cross ties so having small kids wear helmets makes good sense.
I think having a play area for young kids would be a good idea....a sandbox (not the arena), swings, etc for them to play on, where they can be seen from the arena and supervised. I do think it's a good idea for kids to learn how to behave around horses/the barn when they are young though, provided there is constant adult supervision.
every kid is different. if she cries when you yell loudly- she might behave wonderfully at the barn- if she ignores you, then maybe not a good idea.
I do not like little kids in the barn b/c they run, they get too close to my horse, they make loud crashing noises, ( i am the one who hates noise, not my horse). but GOOD kids are welcome anywhere. it's the bad parents i guess i should be complaining about.
For me (and my 6yro and 3yro sons), the key really is the barn itself. There is no way I could have my 3yro (or really, even the 6yro) at a busy boarding facility. It isn't safe, for anyone.
However, we board our horses in a private backyard barn type facility, and it is ideal. My sons know the safe play areas (sand pit in a far end of the property, away from all the stalls; empty barn stall; around the back of the tack room; etc.), and know and abide by the rules.
As for the rules, what I've come up with is: NEVER go in a stall, or be right next to a stall; stay out of arenas; do not run, yell, scream, or throw anywhere near a horse or whenever someone is handling a horse; always wear boots; never come up directly behind a horse (or really in the kicking zone); talk to the horses and let them know where you are (and watch their ears so you know they hear you). Some of those rules are more comprehensible for the 6yro than the preschooler, of course, but it helps that big brother sets a good example.
It's wonderful that I can go now and the boys Do Their Thing. They have their giant Tonka trucks ($5 garage sale jackpot finds--we have gotten YEARS of barn use out of them), their buckets, their toy tractors, etc.--and they know they are barn toys only. Having some sort of barn-only-toy collection is a big help, as is having things like sidewalk chalk (I have some), critter cages (for catching rolly pollies), and good ole buckets (because buckets of water and mud are teh aweseom!).
It is imperative to add that one must be hyper vigilant as a parent and be willing to not get what you want done, done, in the name of keeping your child safe. I cannot ride if I have my 3yro with me, because he's too squirmy, unaware, and unsafe, and he's in that "I'm independent! Watch me flagrantly break your rules to test boundaries and give you a heart attack in the process as I fling myself into imminent danger!" phase. With my oldest, I was finally able to ride and watch him from the arena, trusting he wasn't going to do something self-destructive or maiming, at around age 5.
And, I wouldn't be a good, upstanding member of the horse community if I didn't try and enable...ahem, encourage you to get a preschooler-sized horse. Our mini is ideal for the boys, and they have their own brushes and such. The 6yro is now fully able to do everything for her--though, I swear, the boys have MORE THAN ONCE fought over who gets to pick up her poop. (Hubby: "Boys! Relax! There's plenty of horse poop for everyone!")
Right now, the 3yro is more interested in the dirt than the horses, but the 6yro was too. Now the 6yro is all about teaching our mini to drive--he wants that more than riding lessons, so...well, I guess we just may have to.
Good luck and let me know what else I can help with. It's been utterly fantastic for us, but it would never work at a more public facility.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
Lauruffian, your boys are so adorable!
I don't have wee ones of my own, but my dear nephews grew up at their barn at their house. Specific tasks, able to listen and do what mom says, little tools, a sand pile to play in, don't touch electric fences, don't grab the bunny by the ears (that happened once...only once!), only pee in the manure pile (that was a fun one to teach them), don't run or scream when someone is riding in the ring. Basic "good boy" behavior.
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
My 2 year old helps me feed almost every day. She knows which bucket goes to which horse, and even who get what type of feed. I let her pour the feed in, and groom her Mini gelding, as well as feed him. He is fairly kid safe, but not long ago I did just about have a minor heart attack as I turned around to see him standing flat on her hand. Thankfully it was on the soft ground and not the concrete.
My 3 are at a private barn, where its just me, and my ponies, so its easy for me to have her there. It really helps to take my daughter in her wagon, which not only holds her, but her sippy cup and a few toys as well. Plus, if I need to keep her from getting underfoot, I can tell her to stay in her wagon.
Now, when I taught at a boarding barn, there was a Mom who would bring her 3 year old out, and not supervise him, which would scare me to death. I cant tell you how many near misses I saw.