Activities for Young Riders: Part 2
- October 28, 2017
- Savanna Simmons
I wrote a blog about Activities for Young Riders: Part 1 that gives my kids some goals while riding and to keep them focused. Our four-year-old really enjoys riding and begs to ride all the time, but I think he gets a little bored if we don’t give him something to do. I don’t blame him, when we ride inside as we have been, due to this lovely fall wind, and will do a little more of when winter hits, riding in circles can be quite a bore. Here are three more activities you can do with minimal effort to keep your young one hooked for a little longer.
Many of these activities can be done with a kiddo being lead. Allow your young rider to do as much as they can and just step in to help when needed.
4. Ball in pail
There are a few gymkhana classes that have to do with kiddos putting something in a bucket, like a flag or ball. Most gymkhana or playday classes involve three barrels and one or two buckets, but really this can be done at home with one barrel or lick tub and one bucket, like a short version of basketball. We actually have a dog toy that is a rubber ball on a small loop of rope. This is handy for Brindle to loop on his wrist and ride over to the barrel and drop the ball inside. This again develops a sense of a goal, a little urgency eventually, and command of the horse or pony. It also desensitized the horse or pony to such activities like riding up to a barrel and movement up top. (If you’re unsure how your son or daughter’s mount will react when the ball is dropped, be at the ready to step in and gain control.)
5. Counting strides
This is one for a little more advanced rider, but we’ve been talking about cadence a bit and I think it’s great for youngsters to start to feel what the horse below them is doing. There are quite a few things that can be done here, like having your child count every stride, 1, 2, 1, 2, or perhaps every other stride, left, left, left, or alternate three lefts, then three rights. You could also have your kiddo count off five strides, then stop, or five strides at the walk, then trot for five strides, then come back to a walk for five strides. For a littler one like Brindle, I can set up a ground pole and have Sparky walk or trot over it and help him develop a feel for the horse doing something different.
6. Varying speeds
If you have more than one kid ahorseback or are riding with your kid, you can have races of varying speeds. Turtle races can be fun over short distances (try to limit how long or how many times one can stop depending on riding levels). You may also set up three or four cones for kids to go around and try to “catch” one another. Start kids at the opposite side of the track both facing the same direction i.e. clockwise or counter-clockwise, and tell them to catch one another at only the walk or only the trot. If they break speeds, they’re out. This works best with kids of fairly matched skill level, and if you do this activity with your kid, you can allow them to catch you occasionally to build confidence. Pretty soon, it will get competitive and you’ll have to work a little harder to not be caught.
Be mindful that your riders don’t ride up on the hind end of the other horse. If they get within a certain distance, or even riding along side the other horse, can be close enough so as not to irritate other horses or crowd other riders.
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...