Finding a Kid’s Horse
Older is Better—You want a horse that is set in his ways, experienced and unflappable. The Rule of 20 says that the age of the horse plus the age of the rider, must at least equal 20. Often you can find better trained and very experienced horse that is best suited to a child and also very inexpensive in the 18-22 year old bracket.
Been there, done that. Look for horses that have been used a lot, done many different things and worked hard for a living. He’ll be more solid and he won’t be looking to work any harder than he has to. If he has done activities that required him to travel off the farm—all the better! There’s probably nothing that will surprise this horse.
Babysitter wanted! You want a temperament of solid gold. Calm, friendly and willing, with an eagerness to please and a cautious approach. A thinking horse that will act as a supervisor to your child when you are not present. Look for a big, kind eye, a flat forehead and a calm awareness.
Size matters. Try to find something ‘right-sized’ for your child. If they can brush, clean feet and saddle themselves, it will be much better for everyone—but all the stuff above matters more than size.
Discipline doesn’t matter—for a starter horse, what you care about is safety and fun. A well-trained and experienced horse from any discipline will fit this bill—she’ll get more serious later on.
Start saving your money now! If your child is seriously smitten, her first horse will not be her last one. Plan on her outgrowing her first horse after a couple years—not so much in size but in performance. Her second horse may be more expensive as she moves into more advanced activities.
Don’t get cheap. Sad but true: the least amount of money you will spend on this horse is the purchase price. Spend as much as you can to get the best horse (again, buying an aged–but sound horse may give you more bang for your buck). Factor in the cost of one trip to the emergency room and spend that much more money on the horse for your child, in the hopes that you will avoid the doctor bills!