Going through my mail this morning (there's a lot of it--I just returned from an eight-week maternity leave), I found a brochure for the Let's Move! campaign. The program strives to end obesity in children by encouraging kids to be active, as well as to eat healthier. On the surface, this seems completely non-horse-related and destined for the recycling bin. But with further thought, I realized what it means for kids and horses.
Growing up, my main source of physical activity involved my horses. Cleaning pens, carrying water buckets, saddling, riding, grooming, fixing fence--the chores list is endless, as horse owners are well aware. Yes, it was hard work, but I enjoyed almost every minute of it (exceptions being breaking ice, pushing the wheel barrow through mud, and cleaning trailer mats). It kept me busy, put me outside, and kept me away from the TV and video games. My sons are experiencing the same joy of being outside and playing around the barn. (We haven't yet armed my 3-year-old and 8-week-old with manure forks.)
So as fewer kids get involved in the horse world, that leaves them with more time to sit and be inactive, which leads to countless problems, obesity being only one. Exposing kids to horses not only enriches their confidence and mental health, it keeps them physically fit--something not achieved by many young Americans.
In the August issue of H&R, look for Senior Editor Jennifer Forsberg Meyer's feature about horsey activities for kids. Exposing your child to one or more of them could lead them to a lifetime of physical fitness and good health.