Summertime Fun for Kids and Horses

Looking for something entertaining for your horsey kids to do this summer? Here are five great ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
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A young girl smiles, eyes closed with delight, as she hugs her pony’s head.

Build on that bond! Now's the time to plan summertime fun for kids and horses. 

School’s out, weather’s warming, days are lengthening. Time to think about summertime fun for kids and horses.

Horse shows, trail rides, and horse camps are all obvious choices, but what about other, more out-of-the-box ideas? Activities you can organize with your kids at minimal cost but with maximum fun?

Read on. The activities below can be organized at the barn where your kids ride or at your or another friend’s home barn. Older children can learn organizational skills by planning and orchestrating the events themselves; for the younger kids, you’ll be the point person.

Here we go.

• Spa Day. Many children, especially younger girls, love the “fussing over” aspect of grooming. Make it a social event by inviting friends and their ponies or horses over for a Spa Day, where the equines are bathed, clipped (optional, and only with supervision, of course) and groomed to a fare-thee-well.

For extra fun, provide kid-sized grooming tools in bright colors. Or add an arts-’n-crafts element by supplying extras like safe, water-soluble paints and mane or hoof glitter. The book Fun With Ponies and Horses (by Debby Sly) has terrific how-to’s for braiding and “decorating” our four-legged friends with ribbons and bows. (She even explains quarter marks, those cute designs you comb into the hair coat on your horse’s hindquarters.)

• Costume Contest. Challenge kids to dress up themselves and their mounts to compete for inexpensive prizes in goofy categories (such as Scariest, Funniest, Most Confusing, Least Money Spent). Make a parade of costumed pairs part of the fun; enlist someone to video the procession around the arena.

• Mock Show. Classes can range from gymkhana fun (egg-and-spoon, anyone?) to horse-show-proper (horsemanship, pleasure, trail, etc.). The objective can be pure entertainment or mental preparation for a real show, or a combination of both. Parents can help with the judging and announcing; inexpensive prizes or even old ribbons can serve as awards.

• Game Day. Mounted games are terrific fun as well as skill- and confidence-building. And the possibilities are endless. To get started, find great suggestions as well as safety precautions in Games on Horseback (by Betty Bennett-Talbot and Steve Bennett).

• Pony Sleepover. Sleepovers, that childhood favorite, can work with horses, too. If your home setup allows, invite one of your child’s riding friends and his or her equine partner to a sleepover, perhaps combined with some of the grooming elements of a Spa Day.

Have we whetted your appetite? Do you have some great ideas of your own? Let us know at our Facebook page!

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How equine organizations recruit youngsters into the fold.

How one old horse teaches young kids the ropes.

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