I originally posted “6 Reasons to Own a Child Rider” a few years ago on Pony Glam, but I’ve matured since then and now have even more reasons to continue to proclaim that everyone should own a child rider at least once in their lifetime. The facts still remain that your mouth may become quite dull and calloused, you will be forced against your will to enter a costume class and you may spend countless hours in zebra-colored polos (bonus: wrapped incorrectly), but one thing I can assure you is that they will always have your back.
1. Treats. They always give you treats. They give you treats before they even get you out of the stall. They give you treats if they fall off. They give you treats even when the mean boss-mare trainer says not to. And they don’t just give you boring apples, they will give you anything that is remotely edible, including half of their packed barn lunches on the weekends. Who said horses don’t like goldfish?
2. Easy work load. If left to their own devices, these child riders would opt for bareback gossip fests in the arena with their other pony friends every time. Practicing their sitting trots or doing “no-stirrup November” is thankfully lost on the child rider. The best part is that when the trainer asks, “did you practice your transitions today?”, the little child rider nods her head “yes” when in reality the only thing practiced was seeing who could stand up on their pony’s bare back the longest… at the trot.
3. They give undivided attention. Child riders are known for giving you their undivided and sincere attention. When they are grooming your itchy spots, they aren’t thinking about homework or talking on the cellphone. When you are bored in your stall because you have already inhaled your hay, they aren’t gossiping about Susie’s new ex-GP horse, they are singing songs in your stall and feeding you goldfish (see #1 above).
4. They are always up for anything. Child riders will do anything their trainer tells them to do in a lesson. They are not scared of anything and are always up for new challenges. Finally! No more boring and predictable courses. How many times can you practice the same bending line anyway? YAWN. Jump the Roll Top one stride, to the Log Jump Skinny…with no hands and your eyes closed…”DONE and can we raise the height” says the child rider!
5. Light as a feather. I have yet to meet an adult rider that has a self-proclaimed “good eye”, even though they always appear to have two working ones. Every horse has experienced the feeling of their rider getting left behind at the jump (imagine an elephant doing a cannon ball on your back) or their rider eating mane at the chip fence (yea, sure I can jump with your entire body weight on my ears). And yes, a child rider may not have the best judgment on where to leave the ground, but at least they rarely interfere with your ability to judge the distance for yourself. And if they do get left behind or end up around your ears, at least you barely know they are there.
6. Showtimes are early. 8:00am showtimes! Need I say more? No one wants to stand around all day waiting for their class, especially if it may mean multiple baths, longes, schooling rides, tacking and untacking, etc! With a child rider, you wake up, eat your grain, trot around the show ring a few times, take a few pictures with your ribbons on your reins and then you are back in your stall in time to watch an entire season of Vampire Diaries on Netflix. Winning!
7. They understand that grazing is an art form. With a child rider, they understand that if anyone knows where the best section of grazing grass is, it is YOU, the horse. They don’t try to lead you to the clovers. They let you lead them and if that means you pull them all over the show ground or the barn facility, they are fine with it. They don’t question you when you want to eat weeds, lick dirt or smell poop. There is no judgment with a child rider.
8. Child riders let you get to know your neighbors. A child rider isn’t afraid of a few high pitched squeals or sudden front leg thrusts. They understand that it is only friendly to want to say hello to a new face so they let you sniff a nose or a new butt without pulling you away. Adult riders really have no social skills.
9. Height advantage is in your favor. Child riders are typically shorter than their adult counterparts. This means they can’t easily get the halter on you, or the bridle, or the saddle for that matter. They also can’t reach 50% of your body area during bathtime, which cuts down on the entire shower process and results in you going back to eating grass sooner than later.
10. Summer breaks. The child rider has summers off from school which means your day is over earlier too. No more getting yanked out off your stall just as you were preparing to settle down for your evening grain. No more having your blankets ripped off so that you can trot around a semi-lit ring in the cold darkness. Child riders understand the value of your time, so in the summer they are there in the morning, leaving promptly just in time for lunch and your afternoon snooze fest.
11. Better moods. Let’s face it. The only thing on the child rider’s mind is sleeping, eating, and you. They live and breathe us horses. They never bring the drama or the stress that the adults bring to the barn and are generally in great moods most of the time. They are just happy being with you, which means you can get away with so much more, even if they are looking.