I've read the letters in Horse and Rider recently about getting kids into horses, and I agree 100% with Grace Quigley of Tennessee that just because there's a lack of children in horsemanship, it doesn't mean they aren't out there. I know many, many kids who want to do horsemanship but who can't afford it or lack experience. Lessons aren't cheap, and horses are expensive! And experience, well, that's something you can't buy. But there are solutions for these kids-mentors. Someone who already owns a horse, has the experience and has the want to give kids their time to teach them horsemanship. I've been lucky to have had several mentors, who showed an interest in teaching me what they knew and took the time to do it. If we want to get more kids into horses we have to be willing to give them our time! This year I plan on volunteering at my barn, and I'll be teaching a lot of the newer kids. I've had enough experience with children to know that if you make it fun, it sticks a lot longer in their brain. A couple of times I've made up a story that we had to 'complete' on our horses. "The bad guys are coming! We have to trot our horses to that corner and turn towards the fence, or they'll get us!" The kids just love it when you get creative.
Time is valuable, I know, but isn't it even more valuable when we use it to bring up the next generation of horsemen and women? Perhaps there are kids where you live who are practically drooling when you ride by on your horse, itching to get some saddle time under their belt. Yet they can't afford it or their parents lack experience. Why not try to reach out to kids and teach them, mentor them? Trust me, there's nothing more special to me than the times I can remember someone taking the time to teaching me something new with horses. It's worth your effort. I know.
Anyone else got any suggestions or comments? I'd love to hear them. This seems to be a hot topic right now, so hopefully we can get some solutions out there! Thank you!
"We were ninety-nine percent trouble and one percent innocent...What could we say? We were adventurers!" -The I Can! Cowgirls
"I'm not a horse trainer, I'm a horseman. What’s the difference? A horse trainer trains horses; a horseman trains himself." – Chris Cox
"How do you gain your horse's respect? By moving his feet forwards, backwards, left and right and always rewarding the slightest try." -Clinton Anderson
“It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.” -Roy Rodgers
"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." - Will Rogers