Alright Mom and Dad — if you’re reading this, it’s looking like your little one has been bitten by the horse bug. Horse world can be pretty intimidating to newcomers, both because of all of the new lingo and because of the costs associated with getting outfitted for lessons. But don’t worry, we’re here to help cut through the noise and point you in the right direction. The following is a list of the three essentials you’ll need to get your kiddo started:
- The Helmet: Things happen, and a well-fitting helmet is a non-negotiable. Fit is everything, so we recommend trying helmets on in person at your local independent tack shop. Also, we know some parents try to save by purchasing pre-owned helmets. While we’re all about saving money by buying pre-owned, please don’t do that when it comes to helmets! Besides, there are plenty of cost-effective helmet brands out there; you don’t need to break the bank to protect your kid’s melon. We’re big fans of IRH helmets; they strike the right balance between safety and style, all at an accessible price point. They’re also show appropriate. For that reason we’d steer any hunter/jumper kids away from the Troxel helmets; while they’re similarly well-priced, they aren’t as show-ring friendly.
- The Boots: Sneakers are a no-no for riding due to safety reasons. Your child will need a pair of boots with a heel and a hard toe. Fortunately, there are a lot of great value options out there for children’s riding boots. We recommend that children start riding in black paddock boots. Why? Paddock boots and half chaps (see below) can be worn with regular old jeans, which means you can avoid having to spend money on multiple pairs of riding pants. Further, if your child is under the age of 14 and/or riding ponies, he or she will likely be showing in paddock boots anyways, so no need to spend extra!
- The Half Chaps: Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s not how it sounds. Half chaps are pieces of leather or suede that zip over your child’s pants and paddock boots from the knee down. What do they do? They help give your child’s leg a bit of extra stick in the saddle. Effectively half chaps turn your child’s paddock boots into tall boots, but they’re less annoying to break in and way less expensive. (You can even purchase sticky spray from your local tack shop and spray it directly onto the inside of the calf for more “stick” in the saddle.)
Now, in full transparency, your kiddo’s trainer will likely have a lot of opinions about whether to buy brown vs. black boots, or whether jeans are even allowed for lessons. So, a little email or phone inquiry may be advisable. (Some tend to be a touch particular! Which you will learn in due time! And commiserate about with your fellow riding parents!)
Stay tuned for more more parent-focused content in a continuing series we are calling “Parents of Riders,” or “P.O.R.”
What do you think riders? Any other essentials you’d recommend to new riding parents?