Why Horse Jumping is a Great Sport for Kids’ Physical and Mental Development
Children learn to be self-disciplined and take control in a horse-related sport that requires attention and a calm temperament. This translates into discipline and responsibility in their everyday life.
Shy kids find horses to be reassuring and will often bond with their horses. They can be honest with the animal and make human mistakes in a safe environment.
Show jumping requires a high level of coordination between horse and rider. The riders must communicate clearly with their horses, read the course, and understand how to position themselves to clear each fence.
This sport also teaches kids to set goals and work toward them, leading to success. Children who participate in horseback riding often meet new friends and spend more time outside, away from the glitz of modern life.
The horse jumps themselves also help improve a child’s coordination. For example, you may notice that competition riders walk around the arena before their ride to view each obstacle and memorize the course (the jumps must be jumped in numerical order). Additionally, higher-level blocks often present more technical challenges with tighter turns and smaller or odd distances between them, requiring an athlete to adjust their horse’s stride dramatically.
Horse jumping is an excellent exercise for strengthening core muscles, triceps, shoulders, and the psoas muscle group that runs from the lower lumbar to the underside of the pelvis. It also helps maintain the thighs and upper arms.
Jumping involves the rider directing the horse over several obstacles on a timed course. The blocks vary in height and width.
Gymnastic grids should accommodate your horse’s natural size of trot and canter stride. Start by placing a bounce and low vertical on one long side of the arena and then a second high vertical about 9 feet away (one stride when you canter in).
Repeat this exercise until your horse can bend and counter-bend to his aid at the trot without losing balance or momentum. This will help prepare him for the higher jumping exercises.
Horse jumping provides kids a core workout and builds their abdominal, lower back, arm muscles, and shoulders. This also improves hand-eye coordination.
The sport originated from the tradition of English fox hunting in the 1800s when Parliament’s Enclosure Laws allowed people to own and control large tracts of land by surrounding them with fences. Jumping competitions are based on navigating a specific course of obstacles within a specified time limit.
As a horse approaches the first of his jumps, he compresses the last approach stride by several feet, coiling up energy and power for the vertical push-off off the ground. When his front legs leave the ground, they flex forward and flex their hocks to extend and bend the elbow joints and fetlocks. This elastic rebound allows horses to leap over the height of a jump.
In addition to building core strength, kids horse jumps improves balance and enhance multi-tasking abilities in kids. It also teaches children to persevere when falling off and encourages them to empathize with their horses.
Jumping is a physically demanding sport that tests horse and rider strength, agility, and speed. It requires the lightness and finesse of a 1,000-plus pound animal to leap through fences without knocking down a single rail in a short time limit.
The rider must also use their core muscles and the pelvic, inner thigh, and adductor (inner) muscles to stay balanced on the back of a moving horse. All these muscles provide a great workout and help burn calories, which is excellent for weight loss and fighting obesity.
The coordination required for horse jumping improves kids’ problem-solving skills and overall cognitive well-being. In addition, horses help build self-confidence and boost their mood.
Jumping competitions are timed, and the rider-horse combination that accrues the fewest faults wins. Faults are penalties that may include knocking down fences or refusing to jump.
Course designers sometimes add technical difficulty by building a grid with shorter or unusual distances between fences, requiring riders to adjust their horse’s stride accordingly.
Amid social media pressures, school stressors, and managing overbooked lives, spending time with horses can help youngsters develop a sense of balance and calmness. And the bond they create with their horses teaches them that hard work pays off. Falling off and getting back on a horse also teaches children to persevere in the face of fear, preparing them for life’s challenges ahead.