Horses are powerful animals that, when tamed, make excellent companions and co-workers. With the right training and a talented rider, a horse can compete in races, participate in tough ranch work or simply provide a way for people to burn some recreational time. Because horses are strong, but often require the help of humans to stay healthy, the care and training of these animals can impart big life lessons on children.
Set a care schedule for your horse and give some of the responsibilities to your child. These tasks must be completed regardless of mood or weather; for example, if your child is responsible for feeding the horse in the morning, he can’t skip it simply because he is tired. The horse needs to eat.
Help your child understand how to read a horse’s behavior. Horses show clear signs when they are agitated, stressed or upset, and learning to spot these behaviors is critical for the safety of the animal and that of your child. Handlers must be responsive to their animals.
Emphasize the idea that when it comes to the relationship between your child and the horse, the horse’s needs must come first. A child must learn to respect a horse’s perspective before he can be a safe rider or handler.
Teach your child to treat the horse with kindness, but also with confidence. Horses must respect their owners, and owners must earn this respect by behaving in a consistent and fair manner. If you respect your horse and treat him so, he will return that respect ten-fold.
- Always supervise your child’s interaction with horses, especially when the child is first learning. Horses can be dangerous with inexperienced handlers and riders.
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