10 reasons your teenage daughter should own a horse Inspired by Hanna E. Broaddus
As a teenager, you think you are utterly independent, debate everything and seeking full control over your own life. Looking back, you might realize that it was actually your horse that kept you safe and out of trouble, when your parents could only do so much.
There are many reasons that your teenage daughter might want a horse. There’s also many reasons that as a parent, you may think it’s a bad idea. There are pros and cons to every situation.
Cons: Yes, horses are expensive– they’re black holes for money, let’s be realistic. It is usually the turnaround for parents. They take countless hours and coordination of chauffeuring your daughter back and forth from the stable yard and so on. There’s plenty of other cons, for sure. But for argument’s sake, let’s try to put all those hesitations on hold for the next 5 minutes…. And go!
There are far more benefits, many that you may not even know about yet. A horse could mold your daughter into the person you’d be proud to see her grow into. To all the parents who are weighing the pros and cons of horse ownership, here are few pointers:
- It keeps her out of trouble. Let’s say this again. IT KEEPS HER OUT OF TROUBLE.
When she’s busy at the yard riding (… and grooming, and cleaning tack, and doing turnout and sorting out horse’s food and so on) she has less time to get into trouble. Boredom and friends who may be a bad influence get pushed to the sideline. As it is with any intensive sports program. Some may argue that horses take up too much time for kids, but it’s not true, as long as it’s not all work and there is some play in there, their days may be full but they’re filling.
- It costs money – which she should be at least partially responsible for.
Horses do cost a lot of money. So does their tack and vet bills. And the stabling bill if you choose to keep a horse at a stable yard. If you’re willing to help your daughter in some financial way, it will be greatly appreciated. But in no way should any parent be expected to pay for everything. Figure out a system to split up the costs that works for both of you. If she wants a horse, she should be expected to get a job to help pay for it (like doing some chores at home or start a small business, like baking cookies, etc, whatever brings a buck or two). Plus, that job will help keep her out of even more trouble.
- It builds responsibility
Independence builds a lot of responsibility and character in your little girl, as long as she follows through on her end of the deal to take care of her horse. If you’re thinking that a dog can build the same responsibility and be a lot cheaper, you’re right and you’re wrong. Having a horse builds more responsibility than a dog. If she had to decide between going to town with her friends and taking her dog for a walk, she could potentially combine the two. With horses, she will have to separate out time to devote to its well-being alone, unless she has some really good friends who don’t mind hanging around the yard while she is doing all her horsey stuff. In addition, horses help her build a strong community separate from you as a parent, while a dog is an addition to your home/family life.
- It builds self-confidence. Everyone says this because it’s true.
Most riding is an independent sport. However, she’s not alone… She’s in a partnership, where she is expected to be the leader. And she’ll have coaches teaching her how to lead in the most effective way. Nothing builds self-confidence better than a “leadership training” that she loves. Another thought to ponder on: your daughter is going to tell this 1,000-pound animal to move five steps to the left. And then five steps to the right. And when the horse does something out of line, she will have to administer the proper discipline. How would you feel if you were in that situation? It’s a form of empowerment that’s only found working with large animals.
- It will help her meet new friends.
Your daughter has a loving, hard-working side that the others won’t see. Best of all, these girls will have the same passion and devotion in them too. That connection creates a stronger bond just in itself.
- Stable yards mold a good variety of role models of many ages.
Having a horse stabled at a yard offers a daily interaction for your daughter with people of all ages. When you drop her off, she will have the opportunity to freely connect with other children and adults, without feeling the pressure of mom or dad standing by. If they get close enough, they’ll start to seek support from these adults and children alike, which is the key – they’ll normally offer the same advice you might want to as a parent, and your daughter may be more apt to listen to someone outside of the family. Better than getting advice from her friends at school? Maybe so.
- It keeps her humble.
Horses are going to teach her that she’s wrong all the time. She didn’t ride that move quite right, her legs slipped back and that’s why she fell off. Nobody else made her fall off but herself (and no, it’s never the horse’s fault). Or her instructor is telling her (again) that her hands need to be quieter. That she’s getting there, but she hasn’t got it yet.
In every situation with horses, she will always be able to get better and she’ll never be done learning. Every rider understands this very quickly.
- It will keep her fit.
She will ride in all kinds of weather. Doing turnout, feeding – all these stable yard chores actively burn calories and build muscle. If you think kids are too sedentary these days? Get them a horse.
- It helps them be creative, active teachers.
Having her own horse means that for the most part she’ll be riding on her own, outside of a lesson situation. This means that she’ll have to work through a lot of daily training challenges that come up when riding on her own. It will force her to think creatively about how she’s training her horse and how to solve a particular problem.
If something worked in the last lesson, but it’s not working now, what else can she try? How else can she solve this issue? Being in a lesson program provides necessary guidance, but when it’s not paired with independent riding, it can create a mental dependence on someone telling her exactly what to do and when to do it.
All this active participation in learning how to ride, how to train and what to do when a challenge emerges will help her in high school, in university and in every job in the future.
- It teaches her HOW her brain learns new things.
She will learn a lot of life lessons through riding. Riding will help her with other things she has to do in school and later in life, in her career. It’s all about self-awareness.
At the end of the day, you’ll have to work as a family to decide if getting a horse is really the right choice. But horses help girls grow into empathic, engaged, and responsible young women. You make the final call.