From the Edi­tor

Horse & Rider - - Contents -

IT’S SAID THAT youth is wasted on the young. In some ways, I guess I could agree with the sen­ti­ment—es­pe­cially when it comes to nap­time, me­tab­o­lism, and end­less en­ergy.

But if a young­ster has ac­cess to a horse, that’s prob­a­bly the best pos­si­ble way to take ad­van­tage of his or her younger years.

Here are just a few rea­sons why.


Do you re­mem­ber the last time you came off your horse? It prob­a­bly hurt a lot more, for a longer time, at 40-, 50-, or 60-some­thing than it did when you were a child. And I’d guess from my own re­cent oust­ing from the sad­dle that it made you more cau­tious the next time you mounted up—even a lit­tle fear­ful that it might hap­pen again.

Kids bounce. And when they come back up, some­times it’s even with a smile on their face or a look of de­ter­mi­na­tion. They don’t have the lin­ger­ing aches, pains, bumps, and (very large) bruises. Even when they do, say, break a bone, they fin­ish their six weeks in a cast and are horse­back be­fore we adults are half­way through the heal­ing process.


When was the last time a kid had to worry about pre­sent­ing to a client or drop­ping off a mort­gage check? If you can tear them away from their de­vices, kids are rel­a­tively dis­trac­tion-free in the sad­dle. Yes, there’s home­work to think about, but if the op­por­tu­nity arises for my sons to fo­cus on rid­ing or math, sad­dle time wins, and they quickly for­get about the class as­sign­ments. That dis­trac­tion-free mind is ripe for learn­ing, too.


Learn­ing gets harder as we age. Our ex­pe­ri­ences in­flu­ence our ob­jec­tiv­ity and will­ing­ness to be ed­u­cated by peo­ple we see as “un­like us.” Kids lack pre­con­cep­tions that might limit learn­ing op­portu-

ni­ties. And be­cause they’re learn­ing all day at school, their brains are primed to take in all the info to ride bet­ter, whether those lessons come from a trainer, in­struc­tor, par­ent, or even the horse.


As we age, main­tain­ing pas­sion takes work. We face burnout, hit plateaus, and lose in­ter­est. Even if a child has been horse­back “since she was born,” horse life is new, ex­cit­ing, in­trigu­ing, and full of op­por­tu­ni­ties. Chil­dren have the en­ergy and drive to take risks and try new things. That pas­sion grows and de­vel­ops as young rid­ers gain skills, get older, and be­come skilled horse­men. Then, when they reach par­ent­hood, they can share that pas­sion for all things horses with their own kids.


You’ll see many young rid­ers on the pages of this is­sue (in de­part­ments and fea­tures) and read about rea­sons why the out­side of a horse is good for the in­side of any kid.

Look for Bob Avila’s ad­vice for young rid­ers (page 47) and Se­nior Edi­tor Jen­nifer Forsberg Meyer’s “Why Kids Should Ride” (page 62).

But our com­mit­ment to get­ting kids horse­back doesn’t stop in the pages of the mag­a­zine, and we hope yours doesn’t, ei­ther. Do you en­cour­age equine pur­suits for your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren? How are you shar­ing your West­ern horse life with kids so it con­tin­ues for gen­er­a­tions to come? Email me at the ad­dress at right to share your con­tri­bu­tions.

You can reach Jen­nifer Paul­son at jpaul­son@aim­me­

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