Activities for Young Riders: Part 1
- October 15, 2017
- Savanna Simmons
The weather here in Wyoming this fall has been beautiful . . . but windy. The constant blowing makes it a little less fun for young riders to want to be aboard a horse. Luckily, we have a small barn that has a large round-pen set up for our kids to ride in on blustery days, so I’ve gotten a little creative with some activities for them to do. After all riding in circles can get quite boring.
Many of these activities can be done while leading the horse or pony, but allow your young riders to do as much as he or she can without your help, and then step in only where needed.
1. Set out cones
We have a set of multi-colored cones that helps Brindle have a goal in mind when riding. It’s hard to a little one to direct a horse or pony when they don’t know where they’re going themselves. Cones really help. I let Brindle set them out wherever he cares to, a pattern isn’t necessary, but a little distance helps. Once he’s mounted, I can give him ideas of where to go, or he can himself. He only knew a few colors when we started this project, and I think doing this really helped him learn colors as well (small bonus). As he begins to learn directions, I can tell him to turn left around the red cone, then right around the purple cone. He can also stop over or by a cone or back near one, etc. This all gives him a far better command of his pony once he’s out in the big pen or outside.
2. Build the basics
There’s much more to horses than just walking, trotting, and loping. Can your youngster back his or her ride? Can they bend in each direction and do a full turn in each direction? These are good things for a kiddo to work on and develop in a pen to become useful tools for outside. There are also things your child can fine-tune, like the horse trotting or loping off right when they are asked, or stopping harder without the horse or pony running through the bit and backing a few steps after a stop. I would recommend only doing a few of these things for a short time each ride, they tend to not be as fun, but they’re good practices to build up in young riders.
3. Follow along
Most kid horses want to follow an adult anyway, but playing a sort of “tag” with your kids, with you being the target, is a fun game. If your kid’s horse doesn’t follow too close, run around a little and juke a bit to see if your kid can keep up. Don’t get run over and make sure your young one doesn’t get “spun off”, but this game usually ends in giggles and a little exercise for mama. This can prepare a kid to follow along cows, especially if they have a cowy horse, and they need to learn to hang on a bit!
For older kids, it’s fun to “cut” someone. Kids can do this with one another, with one person acting as the cow and the other as the horse. This is better done with two kids on horses; if one child is on the ground, there is a level of danger of being run over, so I would advise against that.
Stay tuned for more activities!
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...