Someone close to you has been bitten by the horse bug and their every wish includes riding lessons or a pony. It started small with books and toys and it just grew. Where did this obsession come from? There’s no good explanation for the source of this unbridled passion. Some people just seem hard wired to be riders and horse folks. For those who have never been bitten by the horse bug, they can only ask where to start
? Rest assured parents and family, you are not alone in wondering exactly that.
If you have a horse crazy child of any age in your family, don’t panic, resist the urge to worry. There are many avenues to explore. Far before the first riding lesson, there are many wonderful horse books to be read, and reread such as the Pony Pals series, Heartland, and of course the classics like Misty of Chincoteague and Black Beauty. Of course, once these books have been read cover to cover, you’ve reached the next step in satiating the needs of a horse crazy child; visits to a local barn and spending time around horses. It is at the barn that children learn to groom, literally touching horses, making that age old connection between horse and rider. Again, this is only the beginning. There are many other life lessons that come as a result of time spent in a barn around horses. It’s that connection between human and large powerful horse we call pony magic.
For some of us there’s nothing like walking into a barn to change gears from the daily routine and to tune into something outside yourself that needs your care and in return, cares for you. The cares of your day disappear as you enter the barn and see the patient and understanding look from a favorite horse or pony.
Wherever your riding experience starts, the first lesson should include rider safety around a horse and a strong emphasis on the basics as you begin to groom, saddle and bridle your horse. A good instructor will help in answering all of those questions; what grooming tools to start with? How hard to curry? Even knowing when clean is clean enough to tack up.
From your instructor, you will learn that grooming always comes before riding, it is the first step and happens every time you ride. You learn it is your chance to figure out what your horse likes and doesn’t like. Hershey pony might like carrots, but not peppermints, and conversely, you might find out that even though Hersey doesn’t like peppermints, Huey really does. The more time spent with your horse, the more you find out about their habits and personality. It is also your chance to check the well-being of your horse checking for skin problems, hoof problems, bumps or bruises that need treating.
At Gift Horse Baskets, we really think that the first gift for a new rider after boots and an ATSM approved helmet should be a grooming kit. It’s not a big investment, and it is worth buying good quality. Buying a few brushes and a hoof pick is a great first step! Traditionally, a well-appointed grooming kit has a curry comb, a stiff boar bristle or natural fiber brush, a softer finish brush, a hoof pick and a sturdy barn worthy container to hold these first tools. With good, regular grooming, you can become someone who understands first hand that the horse you’re planning to ride is a well-cared for, healthy living creature with personality and sensibilities who is willing to let you sit atop them and try their best, as you try your best to communicate, however skillfully, what you’d like the pair of you to do, be it in the crossties, the arena, or out on the trail.