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Helping Parents Engage their ChildrenJanuary 2018

Story: Monica Rylski - 2nd year Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management, Equine Management major student

It can happen in an instant, perhaps while watching a movie, driving down the highway, or reading a book; your child has been mesmerized by a horse. For the next few years you can expect to hear how much your child wants one, and you will unwillingly repeat to them 'No, we can't afford it.' You, as an adult, know that buying and owning a horse is not an investment to be taken lightly, financially or otherwise, but your kids don't know that.

If your kids change what they like to eat every other week, and getting them to help out with chores around the house is like pulling teeth, owning a horse may not be for you or them; however, have no fear parents, there are ways of introducing your eager youth to these magnificent creatures without straight up buying one or breaking the bank.

Here are a few suggestions that will slowly introduce you and your child into what it takes to be an equestrian, while along the way learning important life lessons like responsibility, the value of hard work, patience, cooperation, and communication. To start, it is beneficial to determine if this interest in horses is a good fit for your child. Taking them to a local fair, festival or a free horse show is a great introduction. In this atmosphere they can observe and possibly interact with horses.

It is important to familiarize children with the size of horses because they are much larger than what they seem when seen from afar; younger children may find their size overwhelming and frightening. On the other hand they may be so filled with awe and wonder that their interest blossoms into passion.

If this initial introduction has your child hooked, there is a plethora of opportunities to get them involved. Working with horses is challenging and fun; along the way the horse can teach someone to be patient, develop their leadership skills, and enhance their communication abilities. Facilities offer a variety of programs such as: summer camps for kids, family sessions, birthday parties and riding lessons.

ind list of certified riding coaches at your provincial equestrian federation. Contact Ontario Equestrian for more information on facilities with certified coaches and instructors in Ontario.

Owning a horse as mentioned above is not for beginners, but perhaps co-boarding a horse can give you a taste of the experience. Co-boarding involves sharing a horse with other people, while paying for a portion of the boarding fees and health costs.

It is an exciting opportunity to develop an engaging path for children and young adults toward a life with horses.