Compassion and respect for animals is a trait any parent would want their child to possess. Caring for animals and pets is a valuable life skill that can be instilled in your child from an early age. Most children initially learn these traits from watching their parents or elders around them, but as they grow older, they can be reinforced.
When young children are old enough to reason with, this is a good time to start introducing them to horses in a more hands-on approach. If your children are fortunate enough to spend time around horses as infants, this will instil an understanding and respect for these warm-blooded beauties. If you have not been able to expose your children to horses in their formative years, now is the time to start. A child, teenager or young adult is never too old to learn.
Horse and Pony Basics
Owning a horse or pony is a wonderful privilege, but you don’t need to own horses to teach your children the basic elements to caring for a horse. Visiting a ranch, farm or stables would be a great way to spend a day out educating your children on horse care.
The basic requirements when caring for horses are:
Adequate stabling is important to keep a horse safe and comfortable. Stabling should include a proper shelter for the horse to sleep in at night, to be kept out of storms or harm’s way, and to be tended to when needed. Adequate space is required as horses need to be kept active daily, especially when they are young. Tethering a horse should never be done over long periods of time, as a horse needs space to run and roam.
High-quality food is needed for horses to remain healthy and happy. Not only do horses require hay, chaff or pasture to eat, but they may need additional supplements such as a salt lick from time to time. Horses should always have access to clean and fresh water.
Health care for horses includes taking care of their coat, hair, teeth and feet. Horses should be groomed often, and their teeth need to be checked annually by a veterinarian. Their hooves need to be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks by a farrier, and horses that are ridden often will require shoes.
If you cannot access a stable or ranch, you can always teach your child how to look after or train a horse by other methods. The most popular way to teach children the benefits of horse care is to watch videos on training horses with them. There is a plethora of educational material available online that will not only catch the attention of young children but keep it too.
Social media is another great way to learn how to care and love animals, and it is just a matter of searching for horse related accounts on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube. The bottom line is to set a good example for your children when dealing with not only horses but any animal you encounter. This method of watch and learn will always be the first port of call in respecting animals.