Taking Children Horseback Riding for Spring Break

Taking children horseback riding

 

If you’re thinking of taking children horseback riding, and you don’t have horses or experience, you can still find a relatively safe place that will let you ride. Be sure to read online reviews of the places and get a feel for what it’s like. Here’s our experience taking the children to Jacob’s Ranch!

On the first day of spring break, I said to my husband, “We should really thing about taking the girls somewhere fun.” I actually can’t remember ever going anywhere on spring break, probably because it’s hard to travel with so many children. Now with two boys in college and three out on their own, we only have two at home, and everyone else in the neighborhood had marvelous plans. It was time for us to join the spring break crowd.

My fourteen-year-old, Liana, really wanted to ride a horse. Lisbon (six) was nervous about it, but agreed if she could ride with me. My husband and I also liked the idea. Plus, every experience is good for writing, so  why not? The next day we took off for warmer pastures in our Honda Pilot. We ended up in St. George, Utah near Zion National Park.

Can they ride alone?

Of course fourteen-year-old Liana wanted to ride alone, and I thought it might be good if six-year-old Lisbon tried riding alone for a bit too, so I picked out the most easy-going horse for her. She was named Miss Kitty, and Lisbon adored the name. I put a bicycle helmet on her for safety.

But just in case Lisbon wasn’t okay going alone, I picked out a strong, placid horse for myself that could hold double. His name was Cheeto. Yeah. And he acted like he’d eaten far too many of them. He was slow. In fact, I managed to get him going in a gallop only twice for about thirty seconds. He was lazy or old. Or more likely both.

Did they like it?

Lisbon ended up loving the ride and went the whole way alone (the guide did have lead rope on her horse). My husband who was on a huge Clydesdale also had a great time. But poor Liana wasn’t so lucky. Something was wrong with her stirrups, and the the guide didn’t understand (or believe her?), and so Liana’s knees hurt badly. Once when we were stopped, she took her feet out of the stirrup to rest her knees, and at that moment the horse spooked, skittered away, and Liana fell off.

Yes, she FELL OFF!

But she was okay. The breath was knocked out of her, and she was bruised and sad, but she was okay.  We didn’t even have to take her for X-rays, which my mother had to do when I fell off a horse as a kid (holding my little sister, no less, who didn’t even bonk her head).

Taking children horseback riding LianaTrading horses

After Liana fell, I traded horses with her, and almost immediately, my knees started to ache. No matter what they did with the stirrups, I hurt. It was hugely annoying. By contrast, Liana’s knees were fine on placid old Cheeto. Liana’s enthusiasm was very much muted after that, and several times my husband or I would circle back around when she fell behind. (See the picture on the right with Liana on Cheeto.)

And me? I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Me who loves horses and who feels comfortable on them normally. I had to be constantly vigilant, making sure the girls were okay. Taking children horseback riding was stressful! When the guide said my husband and I should go with the faster group, we declined. We didn’t know her from a stranger on the street, and we weren’t about to leave the girls, especially after Liana fell. I wanted to make sure everyone kept their feet where they should be.

Bottom line, I don’t think I’ll ever take children horseback riding again in that sort of setting. But if I did, I would make sure no one’s knees hurt. The guide should have been more vigilant, or my daughter more complaining, but at least she’s okay. She doesn’t want to go again, though. I feel like we dodged a bullet. Looking back, I’m not sure that taking children horseback riding was the right decision, but Lisbon sure loved it. In a heartbeat, I’d go again myself.

I told Liana I was sorry for taking her, but she said, “What do you mean? Falling off a horse is the coolest thing that ever happened to me.”

Go figure.

Do you have an experience taking children horseback riding? Let me know in the comments!

Teyla Rachel Branton

 

 

Copyright 2018 Teyla Rachel Branton
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25 Responses to “Taking Children Horseback Riding for Spring Break”

  1. Paul Landry

    That was the plan once. Being raised on a farm and having worked with horses and rode bare back, I wanted my children to live that experience. At the last minute, my daughter changed her mind, she was 8 years old, and no amount of coaxing would make her change her mind. Since this was suppose to be a family outing, plans were changed and we ended up in North Pole New York.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      You made the only choice you could since it was a family trip. I wonder what your daughter thinks about it now that she’s grown? Hope the change of plans made memories!

      Reply
  2. Barbara Hessenthaler

    We took our girls horseback riding also. Youngest had turned 5, oldest was 8. Our youngest daughter’s horse took off, it was supposed to be a mild horse. She was fine but for a little while we wondered. Later when we had our boys we didn’t take them horseback riding. Glad it all ended up good for you.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      My, how scary! I had planned to lead my six-year-old’s horse myself, but the guide wanted to do it, and since she has more horse experience, I was glad. I rode right behind them vigilantly. I’m glad we did it now that it’s over, but I think that a long ride might not be the best thing for a young child who is inexperienced. Lisbon did love every minute, though!

      Reply
  3. Kate

    We had a much worse experience with our daughter. On her 3rd riding lesson she was put up on a horse that was too feisty for her. 1st the horse started dancing, (I kid you not) sideways and backwards like those famous white horses.Then the instructor’s assistant, let her horse bolt, which spooked my child’s uncontrollable horse, who also bolted. My poor daughter wad so traumatized that she never rode again. I was really sad for her as all we wanted for her was the joy of riding.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Oh, that sounds like a nightmare! So sorry about your poor daughter. I don’t blame her one bit! For my daughter, it was the guide’s horse who spooked her horse, so I was a little annoyed with that, but I found it hard to complain when the guide’s horse spooked because of the horse she was leading with my younger daughter on it! In all, just a little too uncertain for my tastes. Hope your daughter has found something else she loves to do.

      Reply
      • Kate Cavell

        Oh she did, thank you. She is an artist who has just been credited for technical assistance by an author who just finished her rer. book, part of the series.So still loves the nature scene. Ii just saw a beautiful painting she did on digital media of a wild horse!

        Reply
        • Teyla Rachel Branton

          That’s so cool! I would love to see it if you have it online and can email me the link!

          Reply
          • Kate Cavell

            Hi Rachel
            The link is cave-of-ell.deviantart.com This is work by my baby! Proud mama

            Kate

        • Teyla Rachel Branton

          Very nice work. She’s talented!

          Reply
  4. Karen Frost

    She sure does look good on a horse!

    Reply
  5. Sharon Miller

    Our two daughters have been riding since they were two and by themselves at age four. Our youngest took her first fall off a horse at age two when her aunt led her around (aunt was on foot) when the horse shook and off she went. Two black eyes and an overnight visit to the hospital. But that didn’t stop her. Both daughters have had their share of being thrown but they just got back on and carried on. As 30ish women, they both still ride and love it.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Brave little girls! I was proud that my daughter got back on. Good to know they still like it after falling off.

      Reply
  6. Anita

    My husband and I loved horses. Our girls were 3 and 5 on their first outing. The little one was put on a tiny, laid back pony. We walked the horses with Daddy and me leading their ponies. Our mistake was going in the early spring when the horses were just coming in from winter pasture. A bird flew up from the bushes and Kristi’s pony got spooked. The horse reared up and our 3-yr old went flying head first. She was quite scraped up and we decided a trip to the ER was good. The Dr said didn’t we think she was a little young to be on a horse? Daddy said if we’d thought she was too young she wouldn’t be there.
    Fast forward 30 years. Both girls love to ride and now we’re taking our grand kids!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Wow. I’d say it’s none of the doctor’s business, lol. Nice to see your family is still loving it!

      Reply
  7. Kim Hampton

    Don’t let a bad experience with one guide scare you away from trying horseback riding again. There are a ton of good guides out there that will work hard to make sure everyone enjoys their experience. I grew up with horses and still love them, even though I haven’t ridden in years. Yes, there is no such thing as a “bomb-proof” horse, but good guide outfits have the closest thing you will find!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I have to agree. The guides for the most were super great. It was just those stirrups that caused the problem, lol. I won’t give it up. Not sure about my daughter. She did get back on, which was something. Thanks for posting!

      Reply
      • Kim Hampton

        If she ever wants to attempt riding again, you can road trip to Arkansas and I will make sure she has a good saddle and an awesome horse!

        Reply
  8. Kate Cavell

    She has indeed. She is an artist whose latest horse painting on digital media looks great.

    Reply
  9. Nathaniel Wyckoff

    At Griffith Park in Los Angeles, there are pony rides for children. All of our children used to love the pony rides when they were little. They enjoyed graduating from the “Slow” to the “Medium” to the “Fast” ponies. The ponies walk or trot a couple of laps around a track.

    A year or two ago, we took the children to guided horse trails. For $25, one could ride a horse on a path that ended back at the stables, led by a guide. Paying for six children to ride was enough; my wife and I sat that one out. Prior to riding, we got to buy carrots and feed them to the horses. The kids enjoyed that part, too.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I understand completely about the price. It’s held us back a lot of times, lol. You need to be creative when you have large families like ours! Sounds like they had fun!

      Reply
  10. Leila

    I used to take my daughter backhorse riding when she was a child an later as a teen ager. She is a natural, fell off only once, when jumping an obstacle. I didn’t ride, as I’m a louzy amazon. But she always enjoyed and so did I. Weeeeel, not so much, I was always afraid, ugh!

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Your daughter was brave to get back on then! My daughter says she’s not interested in riding again, sadly. But she has other interests!

      Reply

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