In addition to the many equestrian activities that riders of all ages can participate in, kids have access to programs specifically geared toward them. They usually serve the purpose of teaching young equestrians about proper horsemanship practices. Here’s a short list of some of the more well-known opportunities for youth riders:
Pony Club members learn traditional equestrian riding disciplines, but also improve their horsemanship and riding through fun games on horseback.
The United States Pony Clubs (USPC) focuses on riding and horse-care education, as well as teamwork and sportsmanship in mounted games. Kids work their way up through certificate levels, demonstrating their proficiency in certain riding and horse management skills to earn each. Competitive Pony Club rallies test riders’ skills in mounted and unmounted races and quizzes. At the end of each year, clubs can compete in the USPC National Championships. Kids need to have access to a horse for Pony Club, but some groups offer the option to lease one. www.ponyclub.org
Yet another fun learning opportunity for horse-crazy kids is summer horse camp. There are day programs and overnight camps that include riding lessons and educational sessions about horses and horse care. Some also offer other activities, such as swimming, crafts, other sports, et cetera. Look for camps in horse publications, in advertisements at your local tack or feed store, or through an online search.
Youth breed programs:
Many major breed organizations have a separate youth membership that offers educational programs, contests, seminars and showing opportunities. Many even give away college scholarships. Check with your breed’s association to see if there’s a youth membership option.
This article originally appeared in the 2015 edition of Your New Horse.