The more time you spend selecting the best instructor for
your child, the better your child's experience will be, and the fewer problems
you will have. Become familiar with the various activities available for your
child and with the sources of information listed in Chapter 8.
is essential that you become very familiar with horse behavior. I've seen
several instances where a parent contributed to an accident between a child and
a horse because the parent panicked, did not know what to do, and therefore either
froze and did nothing or did the wrong thing. Also, stay current on your first-aid
knowledge and skills. They will come in handy for your child and friends as well
as for their horses.
Through all phases of your child's equestrian development,
he or she needs safe clothing and tack. You will need to invest in proper footwear
and headgear as well as other riding accessories. In addition, your child's horse
or pony will require safe, suitable equipment for riding.
You might have
heard the phrase "backyard horseman," but that doesn't mean you can keep a horse
in your backyard. A small pony will need a minimum of an acre and carefully planned,
safe facilities to live in.
Realize that it will probably cost at least
$2,000 per year to keep a horse. This figure represents routine costs such as
feed, bedding, routine vet care, and farrier care.
involved with horses requires an investment of time, money, and hard work. Be
sure your child knows that he or she must make trade-offs in order to see that
a horse or pony has good care. Sometimes it will be necessary to miss a favorite
TV program or a party to take care of a horse's needs.
Depending on the
age of your child, you may have to do a portion of the horsekeeping work yourself.
I look on this as a bonus for you rather than a burden because caring for horses
has given me so much enjoyment. You might find, as other parents have, that after
you have cared for your child's horse for a while, you will want to acquire one
of your own.
You should know at least
as much as your child does about horse care and handling. Refer to the recommended
reading list on page 112 for other books that will provide more detailed information
on various subjects: training, riding, health care, hoof care, facilities, management,
safety, showing, and much more.
I am so grateful to my parents for encouraging
me to pursue my interest in horses. Although I didn't own my first horse until
I was nineteen, throughout my early childhood my parents created many opportunities
for me to learn about horses and ride them. There are many ways you can help your
child have a positive and very rewarding horse experience. I hope this book helps
you and your young horsekeeper on the way.