First riding lesson! I love starting young riders and the first time they sit on the horse is a very exciting day for everyone involved, especially kids and parents! As a trainer who comes from a family of non-horse people, I know how confusing this sport is for parents. It is unlike any other! Because of this, we try to make an extra effort to prepare parents for what to expect and how to set their kids up for success both on and off the horse. As a parent, even if you know nothing about horses or horseback riding, one of the most important things you can do is to outfit your rider safely and appropriately.

What to Wear

1. Mind Your Melon!

The number one piece of equipment? The helmet. When I was a child, the barn provided helmets for riders but with growing safety concerns about head injuries and concussion awareness, I cannot stress the importance of purchasing your own helmet enough! There are plenty of budget friendly and also safe for a beginner rider. For your little person’s first riding lesson, try the Tipperary Sportage Toddler Helmet. These helmets are reasonably priced under $100.00, and are ASTM certified. The Tipperary Sportage Helmet offers the same safety options for older riders.

Keep in mind, while this helmet comes in two color options, I always recommend purchasing a black helmet to prevent having to buy a second helmet down the road if the rider attends a horse show!

2. Protective Pants

While jeans are perfectly appropriate for a first riding lesson, I highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive pair of riding jodhpurs (jods,) or riding tights for my little riders. Jeans can be bulky, ride up the legs and cause rubs. For the price of a pair of jeans, parents can purchase riding pants that are light-weight, comfortable and provide grip and flexibility needed for comfort and safety in the saddle. The Equine Athletics Pull on Kids Ventilated Schooling Tights are made from technical fabric that wicks away moisture and also provides grip for security as riders learn balance and strength in the saddle.

I always like to mention the appropriateness of apparel for horse shows to prevent parents from having to purchase multiple items down the road, so for a fashionable and horse show appropriate approach, check out the “Adorabelle” Belle and Bow Equestrian Jods. These come in black and lavender as well as tan for showing.

3. Top Notch Toes

Horses are big! Even our small school ponies who don’t wear shoes can cause quite an impact on little toes. Little riders often learn quickly that toe protection is important as they learn to navigate four hooves in the cross ties and while learning to lead their pony. For your first riding lesson, a protective boot with a heel is a must! A hard toe protects the foot from impact from a horse’s hoof and a heel on the boot ensures proper foot position in the stirrup, preventing a little foot from sliding all the way through. For comfort and easy wear over your jods, we recommend a simple paddock boot. For little feet, Belle & Bow Equestrian Paddock Boots make an adorable synthetic leather option with zipper for ease in putting on and taking off. These are also “home” or horse show appropriate! For older riders, the same safety features, easy and durability are offered in the Equine Athletics Starter Child Zipper Paddock Boots. Both priced under $50.00!

4. Snazzy Shirts

When teaching younger riders, position is very important. As a trainer, it is hard to instruct on appropriate position when riders are wearing large or bulky clothing. Keep in mind that a close-fitted shirt that is able to be tucked in is most preferable during a riding lesson. This can be a shirt that your rider already owns, or you can dress it up with a cute Allpony Tee for your horse crazy kid!

5. Fun Extras

If you or your child are the type that likes to accessorize, here are a few other helpful options to “add on” at your first riding lesson! Half chaps “seal the deal” with your paddock boots and jods by securing the jods at the base of the boot so they can’t ride up and providing extra grip on the saddle. These could also be worn over leggings rather than jods. The Kids Half Chaps come in brown or black and come in a variety of sizes. Do you have a fashionista on your hands? While riding, long hair should always be safely secured back in a low pony tail or braids, so why not add in some Show Bows for fun and fashion?

– Emma Fogler

Emma Fogler is a professional hunter/jumper rider and trainer. Emma and her husband, Nick Stewart, own and operate Across Town Farm out of Mebane, NC. They specialize in teaching riders of all ages and levels and attend local to "AA" shows throughout the Southeast. Emma graduated from The University of South Carolina with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and enjoys combining her love of horses and writing by working for equine-related media and publications.

Visit: www.acrosstownfarm.com