All of the reasons for very young children not to
ride listed on RC are very valid. I don't want to take anything away from the
family who had the 2 generations of young riders. Grandpa was very proud, I am
sure. All of us in this sport who have kids, probably want our kids to love this
sport as much as we do. Some of them will excel, maybe even at a very early age,
and some of them couldn't care less. Only the parents can judge the
There are exceptional children who can read by the
age of two, or can sing like a bird before they are 5, or even ride a 100 mile
ride. Reading and singing have, oh I am guessing here, zero probability of
However riding very large animals in open
environments can turn into an ugly situation.
Scenario 1. You and your very small, young child
who can barely get his/her legs around the girth of the very large horse are
trotting around the farmer's field when all of a sudden a tractor pulls out of
no where. Your child can either be in front of you or behind, either way you
can't grab the reins of the other horse quick enough and off they go. Hopefully,
the field has just been plowed and the child has a soft landing.
Scenario 2. You are on the last leg of your 100
mile ride with your very young, small child. You are 10 miles from the finish
line, it is midnight and very dark. Your horse trips, you go head first and are
knocked unconscious. You were the last riders out of the last check so no one is
coming up behind. Oh I know eventually, you will be missed and some one will
come looking for you. But in the meantime, your very small, young child will be
traumatized thinking that you could be dead, it is very dark and they are
very scared. And , on top of that, your horse took off, your child's horse
wanted to be with your horse and threw your kid. Now the child is hurt, you are
unconscious and no one will know you are down for a while.
I know these are extreme scenarios but they are
very possible. I don't know about physical insult to a young body riding for 100
miles, but mentally, it could make the difference of whether or not that child
ever rides again.
My daughter's first ride was very memorable. Oh, it
is funny now, but it wasn't for her then. There was a river crossing, a "Man
from snowy river" cliff we had to go down and lots of farms with equipment our
city horses had never seen. To many obstacles for a young riders first ride.
At the cliff she drew the line. We all got off the
horses, sent them down first, and then followed to the bottom. Allison got down
the cliff and ran as fast as she could to the top of an adjoining hill top. From
there she screamed at Wendy and I, "I'M NOT GETTING BACK ON THAT HORSE AND YOU
CAN'T MAKE ME!!". When we finally got back to the vet check, I told the vets our
time was up, we were done. We had done 15 miles of a 25 and Allison had just
turned eight. I didn't take her again until she was 10. What a difference two
We also have to remember that young children love
to please their parents and will do things to make them happy. I didn't want
Allison to grow up and say things like. "I hated riding, but my mom made me go."
I didn't push her and now she truly does enjoy riding. Maybe not with me, but at
least she goes.
Allison and I were on a training ride once and
galloping down a lane when a black snake popped up out of the grass. Todd jumped
to the side and Allison, who is an excellent rider slowly slid down onto the
grass. I can't begin to describe the thoughts that were racing through my mind.
I jumped off and ran to her and by then she was sitting up. She had broken her
wrist. Boy, did the guilt set in, right then and there. It was an unavoidable
accident, but that didn't relieve any of the guilt.
She is now 13 years old, and I still worry about
things that can happen on the trails. Maybe a minimum age should be set for the
I'd like to submit a minimum age of 35. Maybe by
then, I won't worry as much!
Lisa Salas, The Odd fArm