Introducing children to horses is a great way to expand their horizons, teach them new things, and help them overcome fears. However, it is important not to forget that horses are big creatures and, therefore, it is important to take safety into consideration. With the proper instruction, your children can learn to love horses and stay safe. In this article, we will be looking at how you can keep your child safe around horses.
Always Set a Good Example
As the adult, it is your responsibility to set the example to your children as children instinctively look to adults for guidance. So, lead by example when you’re introducing your children to large animals. Show them how you approach and move around a horse safely, leaving enough distance to avoid injuries and speaking in a slow and calming voice.
Teach them to Trust the Instructor
Teaching your child to trust their instructor is one of the most important things you can do and will ensure your child stays safe around horses. As we’ve already mentioned, lead by example and listen attentively while the instructor is guiding your child through their lessons, encourage your child and watch them closely to show you’re paying attention to everything they’re doing.
If your child has never interacted with a horse before, it’s important to realise that they will need a lot of instruction. Therefore, spend a lot of time communicating effectively with your child regarding safety around horses, how to interact with a horse, and how to behave. For example, communicate how important it is not to run or shout in the presence of a horse as this will spook horses and put others in danger. Simple instructions like these will help keep your child safe and ensure they act in an appropriate manner, stay alert, and stay safe.
Practice How to Groom a Horse Safely
Although we have written an article on horse grooming for beginner’s previously, caring for an animal as a child takes a lot of responsibility. From brushing down the horse, shampooing, removing the saddle, and hosing down, there is a lot to remember and it’s important that all grooming is done safely.
Your child’s instructor will teach them through the grooming process, but the most important thing to remember is to take your time and be gentle. Horses can lash out at rough treatment, so horse grooming should always be carried out by a firm but gentle hand.
Encourage Confidence in Your Child
Instilling confidence in your child is incredibly important for many areas of life, however it is also key when interacting with horses. While teaching safety around horses to your child is incredibly important, you don’t want to make your child afraid of horses in the process. One way to keep them confident around horses is to start them out by riding an appropriate-sized horse that is suited to them.
Another way to help your child gain confidence around horses is by feeding a horse sugar cubes. Feeding a horse shows children how gentle horses can be and is a great way to develop a bond between a child and horse.
Keep Your Fingers Clear of the Horse
A child’s first instinct when meeting a horse is to reach out for their face. However, a stranger reaching towards a horse’s face can seem threatening to a horse and cause them to bite. A horse can bite and crunch its teeth around a child’s unsuspecting fingers with lightening speed, so it is always best to teach children to keep their fingers clear of a horse’s face. Instead, teach children to pat the horse’s shoulders and neck as these are a much safer option.
Wear the Right Protective Equipment
Nothing is more important while your child is riding a horse than ensuring they’re wearing the appropriate protective gear. Ensure your child has been properly fitted with riding clothes, boots, helmet, and a riding vest. These items will ensure your child is protected from numerous horse-related injuries while on and off the horse.
Keep Children Out of Pastures and Stalls During Feeding
Children need to be kept away from horses during feeding time as horses love food and may become aggressive towards a child if they are in the way of their delicious hay and grain. By keeping children out of pastures and stalls during feeding time, you will help prevent any injuries or accidents.
Take It Slow
When introducing your child to a horse, it is important to take every step slowly. Horses and children can form incredible bonds and with the right rules, proper care, and safe supervision, there is no reason why your child shouldn’t grow up with a real love of horses. You can find out more about horses and proper horse care on the Prime Stables blog.