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At what age did you start your (human) children?

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  • At what age did you start your (human) children?

    I stopped riding and showing about 10 years ago (SoCal) and since then have moved to Maryland, gotten married and had a child. She just turned 2 and I'm dying to introduce her to the horse scene!

    Am I INSANE for thinking about starting her with riding lessons?

    Obviously she can't really steer, or truly comprehend any kind of instruction, but even just 20 mins of lead lining around on a pony would be great! We've done the pony ride thing, but there is nothing really near our house to do so on a regular basis. And since I'm new the horsey scene in MD (Anne Arundel County - Edgewater) I don't really have any connections.
    Just wondering if anyone has started their human children at an early age.

    Posting this on the H/J board because that's probably the route we'll go!

  • #2
    Started mine just after her 2nd birthday, just lead-lining around on school ponies. She learned to hold the reins correctly, pull to steer and stop, cluck/kick to go before she was 3. Not that she was big enough for the ponies to notice her doing all this :-) but she knew what to do when she finally grew. Didn't let her off the leadline until she was 5 though!

    However, I wouldn't have paid money for the lead-line....fortunately I was in a situation where I had access to ponies!


    • #3
      I rode while pregnant & started bringing my dd to the barn when she was 6 weeks old!! As soon as she could sit astride a pony, we'd put her up & lead her around. She's almost 4 1/2 now & started actual "lessons" at 4 (the age permitted by barn's insurance). She's not as committed to it as I am, so I'm just letting her decide when she wants a lesson & we schedule it. I'd love it if she wanted to ride, but I'm NOT going to push it - it will save us a ton of $ if she decides not to ride. lol.


      • #4
        I was on a horse before I could walk; riding on my own by 3 yrs. old; and showing walk trot by 5 yrs old. Obviously, this depends on your child's fear factor, access to a super safe pony, etc.


        • #5
          Are you kidding? Start now.
          My uncle put me on a horse when I was 6 months old and it was perfect, I've never had a fear of them. I rode horses, not ponies, by myself as soon as I could balance, before then my uncle held me in the saddle.
          I'm just jealous of the kids whose mothers rode before the kids were born!

          Last year a family who competes bought a little pony from my barn for their 6 months old son to ride. The pony mare is perfect for him.


          • #6
            My mom rode and we lived on a farm when I was little so we were always riding, but we had to BEG as Mom didn't want to push us into it. We did leadline until I was three and my sister four and started taking lessons and showing walk/trot at five.
            I would suggest trying to find a trainer you like that seems to produce solid riders and will be in your eventual budget/interest (i.e. local or AA or whatever). You could take your daughter to some nearby shows that trainer will be at and borrow one of trainer or trainer's friend's ponies for the leadline. Maybe you'll even catch the bug again and go take a few lessons with this trainer!


            • #7
              Mine started at all different ages. My now 10 and 5 1/2 yr old started to really get into it 2 1/2 years ago, so at ages 7 1/2 and 3... My now 7 yr old just started to really get into it 9 months ago. My 2 1/2 yr old is heavily addicicted and has ben forever. My 6 month old has only been on once so far,lol! Currently the kids ride once or twice a wek. We are looking to get a horse(for me!) so that may change!


              • #8
                Having access to nice ponies is 'the' thing as far as I can tell. I wanted for my daughters to have the same if not better access to 'ponying' so I started to buy the ponies when our eldest was 2. Today she is 4 and makes me pick her up from Kindergarten-Bus (5 Minutes from our house...) by pony. She likes it but isn't as fanatic as our younger daughter who is 2.5 and wants to sit on anything for as long as possible. I have her sit on my Hanno-mares while I palpate them (in stocks, of course only experienced mares!), she sits on every pony, climbs the saddle rack by herself and is talking 'horses' all day if anybody will listen. I am trying very hard to distribute my time evenly among the two but being a vet and dedicated horse-person it's not always easy. I would hate for my older daughter to only feel loved when she is into horses like I am.
                I think the sooner and more gentle they are introduced to horses the more they can benefit from it. I wouldn't try to steer them into any performance direction unless they want to. I train a bunch of pony-kids two times a week now on our own Welsh ponies to at least partly cover their cost. Lovely having a house full of little horsey-kids. Have fun and make sure she understands the helmet thing. Back when I was little nobody ever wore one so today I suck and had to force myself to wear one after becoming a mother. But the little ones consider it normal so I'm very strict on it and make it a habit.
                Froh zu sein bedarf es wenig...


                • #9
                  Start now!

                  I was on a horse by the time I was 6 months old. My Father had me on the front of his saddle as soon as he could!


                  • #10
                    I started tagging along to my mom's lessons at 5 and started my own lessons shortly thereafter.
                    Bigeq.com First in Hunter/Jumper Sales Online


                    • #11
                      I was placed on several different horses by 3, and started taking riding lessons at 4, showing w/t at 5.
                      I don't remember much from before I was 4, but I can still remember the names of all those horses, even from "pony rides"


                      • #12
                        Riding lessons? Yes I think she's to young.

                        However my oldest son was on a horse at 3 months. We had a therapeutic horse that was trained to back ride. I put a bareback pad on and rode with him (helmet and all of course) my youngest will start in a month.


                        • #13
                          My oldest (a boy, now 10) started lessons at 7. The middle child (a girl) wanted to start from about 3 but she was nearly 5 before she began proper lessons. And now my youngest (also a girl) at 2-1/2 is always asking to sit on the ponies. I don't know how long we'll be able to hold off with her.

                          I do think it's nice to have an early introduction to horses. It's certainly made my middle daughter much less fearful of horses and riding than the other girls her age who are taking lessons. On the other hand, I don't think that many children, particularly boys, are ready for any kind of focused instruction before 5.

                          I have, though, known people from horsey families who were on horses as soon as they could sit up. I even know of a one-year-old child who went hunting tied to the saddle in front of her mother.


                          • #14
                            I started about then and so did my daughters and now my grandchildren just the same.


                            • #15
                              I was on the back of my neighbors horses before I could walk. Obviously they weren't formal lessons, but it was a start. I could ride on my own at 3 and I started taking lessons when I was 5.
                              Theater Majors only: Lead swap, lead swap, wherefore art thou, lead swap?


                              • #16
                                My daughter came out wanting to ride I think. We were leading her around on pony when she was 2 or less and she slipped off and screamed, wasn't hurt was mad and wanted back on NOW. As soon as she was on smiling and happy. Started her in lessons at 7 and she's never quit. She's an awsome rider and does level 7 & 8 jumpers.


                                • #17
                                  My daughter has always wanted to ride and we always told her she would start lessons when she was 6....she rode at every fair where there was pony rides, and every opportunity where a friend had a pony to lead her on etc. I would not have done formal lessons that early, nor would you actually find somewhere that would take a child that young into a lesson program. If you have your own pony or a friends pony, that's one thing, but formal lessons, you won't find at that age due to the liability. I couldn't wait and gave my daughter a formal lesson at age 4 (my instructor didn't tell the BO she was that young and then again at 5 she had one lesson and two weeks of riding camp. Now she's 6 and finally going every week....and is finally physically really capable. It was torture for me to wait this long but she was very patient and it has paid off.


                                  • #18
                                    My son started when he was 3, it was a formal leadline class. The only reason the trainer took him on was because he could speak really clearly and took directions really well, so she new he could understand the things she was teaching him. In the 3rd lesson he was taken off leadline and after that never did real leadline lessons again just reg. lessons. He was in his 1st show (which was a leadline class) when he was 4. He loved his big pony so much and rode him for 3 years. Then mean ole mom decided she needed to get a horse of her own and now he wants to ride him, but he is just a little to much for a kid so he rides all the older QH and ponys around the farm. He says one day he will be good enough to ride my big horse. lol I am sure it won't be long till he will be passing me up. lol


                                    • #19
                                      Might be too early for formal lessons but she could certainly enjoy being on a pony if a barn in the area offers it.

                                      Key with the really little ones is to let it be on their terms a bit. Making it fun and not putting any pressure to stay on for a certain time etc.

                                      My best friend (and BOs) kids come down to the barn almost every day. Her 3 year old drags her pony out of it's stall (sometimes she needs help with attaching the leadrope, sometimes not), posts to the trot for short stretches (almost every step), and gets upset if she gets lifted on rather then get a chance to get on by herself on the mounting block.

                                      She will come down and ride (sit on "her" schoolpony) for 5 min some days and 45 min some days. She thinks putting hoofpolish on is almost as fun as riding and takes great troubble doing it every time she rides. She loves getting her own tack and will if left unattended try to put her own saddle blanket on. She loves to graze and will go get her "own" schoolpony out of it's stall and drag it/have it drag her out on the grass by herself as long as somebody puts the halter on.
                                      She knows where the leadropes hang and has just mastered climbing onto the tacktrunk next to their hook so she can reach high enough to grab one or put it back.

                                      I know it's a PITA mostly to do it for other peoples kids, but it's a big part of the experience. If you ride and board at a school horse barn try to get there on off hours and see if they will let you and your kid play around with one of the safe ponies a little before and after her ride.

                                      If not schedule her 1/2 hour horse experiences rather then lessons, where she can be part of hanging out with her pony and tack it up, ride for as long as she wants to and then untack, graze, bathe or whatever.

                                      They can have fun at this point, learn to perfor simple things like a two point, walking over rails, holding their reins, pull back for whoa and cluck for go. If really into it "proper" riding can occur as early as five or six on the right pony but instruction should still be more about just having fun.

                                      I would take this opportunity to start back up! Call around for lessons and go see a few of the barns in your area. Find one that will get you back in the saddle and that also has some small ponies you can introduce your daughter to.

                                      Two reasons this might be a good way to go. A, you will start again if you haven't already. B, it will be a lot easier for you to acess one of the schoolponies for play if you are an excisting customer rather then somebody walking in off the street looking for lessons for their 2 year old.
                                      We would not cater to a random kid, but we will cater to the kids of our students. A few more years and you will be riding together!
                                      Timothy, stop lurking


                                      • #20
                                        I am a professional, but both my girls started riding at two years old. Of course, it wasn't much more than just a glorified pony ride, but they were doing leadline in no time.

                                        I think the most important thing with the little ones is keeping everything fun. Some would love to be on the pony all day long, while others ride for 10 minutes and want to be done. You want to grow in them a love, passion, and desire for the horses, and all this needs to be done with the concept that riding is fun.

                                        Personally, I try to not start the little ones riding until around 5. That being said, I have started others that were around 3-4 years. It all truly depends on the maturity level.