What an amazing experience my first summer working at FLC was! Even now the memories of hot days down at the stables, forest rides and horsey splashing in the lake are constantly on my mind. I couldn’t be more proud of Jessie and I, our riding program, the achievements of the campers, the hard work of the horses and the special bonds that were formed over the summer at the FLC stables.
Now back in New Zealand with another summer underway (lucky me!), I’ve been out doing lots of riding of my own and it has got me thinking of just why I ride, what is so special about horses and what this pastime has taught me over the years. I wanted to share my thoughts with you to give you a glimpse of just some of the benefits your child could gain from participating in the riding program at FLC next summer. For me, the main things I have learnt from being around horses are trust, respect, responsibility and confidence.
When you’re new to horse riding it is a big deal to put your safety into the hands of your riding instructor and a large animal and trust that you will be taken care of. However, this trust is the foundation on which a healthy relationship is based and is one of the most important aspects of horse riding. Learning how to move safely around a horse or being asked to drop your reins to feel the horse take care of you teaches valuable life lessons of when to protect yourself and when to let your guard down. Respecting the horse and its size and learning to understand body language in order communicate helps build a relationship between horse and rider that is based on trust and honesty.
Horses can also teach you a lot about responsibility as, like most domestic animals, they rely heavily on their human carers to keep them fed, watered and healthy. At FLC we not only teach children how to ride but also teach them the importance of basic horse care – grooming, tacking and un-tacking, feeding and how to tell if your horse is happy or not. This gets the campers not just thinking about their own safety and wellbeing but also that of their four-legged friends. In 2019 we plan to incorporate more of these horse-care session into the program, as spending time around horses out of the saddle is such a rewarding experience.
Probably the best aspect of learning to ride is the sense of achievement and improved confidence one can gain. Take a child who is maybe a little shy and reserved around their peers and teach them how to convince an animal that is ten times their size to do what they ask and watch their confidence skyrocket! Learning to take charge whilst building a respectful partnership with their horse shows a child that leadership is earned not demanded and that with a bit of patience and hard work, amazing things are possible. I certainly saw this with many of our riders this summer from their first lesson to their last, an amazing improvement in confidence and skill – what more could you ask for as a riding instructor!?
If you think your child could benefit from learning some of these life skills whilst at the FLC stables next summer be sure to enroll and sign them up for some riding lessons!