Riding with your kids


New Member
Jul 26, 2020
I have a 3yr old who is just starting to go for rides around the field on my old plod of a horse. She sits up there, dad holds her I lead, the other day I was riding and she sat up front for just a few minutes, did on standby ( never say never, but my horse is one of those that at worst skips sideways if we encounter a dirt bike squealing on its brakes round a corner of a trail). Looking around... there seems to be some cultural differences in how we approach kids in the saddle in the uk compared to the US and I was curious to hear some opinions. I've seen buddy saddles, but having my child behind me seems terrifying, so what are your thoughts on having a child upfront? I am probably being very naive, but can't shake the feeling that its safer having her with me with dad on standby than putting her on a pony with a lead rein where a sideways move could have her off.

chunky monkey

Well-Known Member
May 2, 2007
I couldnt really tell you. Most people seem to do lead rein. I think for any child to learn it must be a very quiet pony.
I agree about child in front rather than behind but quite honest i wouldnt want to do either. Ive come off a very quiet horse in the past. The thought of having a child sitting with me and child falling off and me landing on a child is scary. I would feel so guilty if me landing on top of a child and potentially paralysing it. Well the thought.

At least if a child comes off on a fall the saying goes they generally bounce when they are young. With the heavy weight of another person then impacting on top well im not sure.


Remember me?
Dec 21, 2011
Shetland, UK
Under no circumstances would I have "a child upfront".

Also, if it were my three year old, there would be one responsible person leading, and one adult either side of riding child until she had control of her legs, her squeals and her bouncing and she would be riding a brain-dead Shetland or something very small, very reliable and very understanding. I would also not be going out of the school or a very controlled quiet environment, ie outside menage.

But that's just me and I ran a riding school so insurance and common sense and survival were also considered relevant.


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
My mother was put up in front by her father before WW1. But I suspect only for a static photo. They had a donkey cart.

However I went to a UK BHS recognised riding school for my first lessons as an adult and was told they did not start teaching children till 8 years old as some people were of the opinion that it damaged the development of their hips (i.e. might make children bow legged)

By the time my grand daughter wanted to learn she appears to have gone from the occasional lead out to weekly lessons at about 6 years old.

Walk out rides for 3 upwards in the Uk usually have a person leading the shetland piny and another supporting the child in the saddle.
In UK the custom is as described by Frances but at both RSs my grandchildren went to, lead out rides were outside the school on bridle tracks.
It is an interesting question whether having one's first lead out in a school or out in the open affects one's later confidence out hacking? My first ride was on a donkey on a beach.


Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
Having hit my nose on the neck of a spooking horse before and my mum doing the same and getting a very bad nose bleed, I don't think I'd put a little human in between me and the horse because then they would get squashed if similar happened. Doesn't have to be a spook, what about a trip that catches you by surprise. I'd say lead rein with person by the side. But then I don't have kids so I think whatever feels right for you and your family you should do ?

Mary Poppins

Well-Known Member
Oct 10, 2004
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No way would I do this. I have a very well behaved 16.1hh shire horse and didn’t let my kids sit on him at all until they were over 10 years old and had long enough legs to balance on him. I don’t understand the rush to get toddlers riding. Why not wait until they have developed natural balance themselves?
Sep 29, 2019
Maybe look at something like an inky dinky saddle at three years they should be able to ride on a pony on the lead trim next to a horse I know three year old who can jump off the lead trim and are balanced etc so I would rather have her learn by herself to become independent ❤️
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