Horses encourage healthy living, education and youth development. Getting parents and kids involved in horse programs can build lifelong friendships and teach children lasting lessons they can’t be taught in school. The need for kids to step away from the gadgets and spend time outside with one of the world’s most beautiful animals is greater now than ever before.
There are magical things that can happen between a young person and a horse. Being on and around a horse from a young age can build complex social and emotional skills like accountability, empathy, leadership and confidence.
Unfortunately, the numbers of kids getting involved with horses are decreasing every year. Why? Many think it’s a combination of financial reasons and the number of activity options and competing interests out there, which kids can get started with and interested in at ages much younger than they can start spending time with horses.
As one of the nation’s top equestrian programs, William Woods University has been actively involved in creating equestrian education professionals who are passionate about getting young people riding. The Online Masters of Education in Equestrian Education, for example, helps current equestrian professionals gain new insight and tools to take back to the stable.
Courses in digital lesson planning, equestrian program sustainability and educational events, as well as class education theory and how it applies to equestrian programs work well in keeping horse educators up to date with the latest trends and promoting successful education programs for youth.
Every summer, William Woods University hosts summer riding camp sessions for interested youth. Kids ages 10-18 spend five days staying at the university. A typical day includes riding lessons, demonstrations and discussions on horse health, anatomy, nutrition and the responsibilities of horse ownership.
- The American Paint Horse Association, for example, organizes efforts to work with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to earn their horse badges.
- The American Youth Horse Council is a nonprofit organization that works to help connect kids through horses.
- There has also been new growth in riding programs for low-income families, as well as urban youth, such as the Chamounix Equestrian Center’s Work to Ride Program in Philadelphia, which has been featured in Sports Illustrated and on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.