Young equestrian riders learn many critical life skills from horseback riding. Being a rider from an early age truly teaches children, what we like to call the three R’s of riding: responsibility, respect, and reward.

First and foremost, this sport requires a tremendous amount of Responsibility.   When a student first begins lessons, they are slowly introduced to this by caring for their horse and equipment, including daily care and grooming, before and after each ride. Furthermore, riders must care for their equipment and the barn they ride at. A rider must also learn to better understand their horse by studying horse behavior and by learning to develop better communication through interaction and handling, such as knowing when a horse is feeling ill or lame.

Secondly, young riders learn Respect.  Respect for an incredibly intelligent animal who is kind, proud and excellent at teaching us so many life lessons. Respect for their coach and trainer who is there to mentor them and share their gift and knowledge. Respect for fellow riders and the spirit of sportsmanship. This is earned over a course of time after one develops a working relationship with their horse and coach.  Time management, discipline and dedication to the sport are inherent qualities of great riders. As you become a better rider and your communication improves between you and your horse, confidence is gained and rewarding relationships are formed.

Lastly, we strive for the greatest Reward of all, an amazing bond between rider and horse.  This bond can be felt when you have a successful ride, when you are grazing your horse, or by winning a very important event that you worked all year to accomplish. Whatever it may be, it should fill you up with a sense of overwhelming accomplishment and happiness. As one rider quoted, “there is a moment for every rider – a moment where time slows to a standstill, a moment where everything is right. In this moment there is no separation of horse and rider: You think together, breathe together, feel together, look together and act together as one. When my horse and I jump, it’s like flying. That is why I ride. That is what drives me.”

In the end, a passion for riding can teach responsibility, respect and will develop bonds that are forever rewarding.

By Kelly Maddox Riding Academy.