Bill Condie’s country roots make him happy that his son, 8-year-old Carson, loves horses. Yet living in town in Nampa, Idaho, limits Carson’s horse interactions to posters, magazines, and the occasional trip to the Idaho Horse Park to watch a rodeo or event. “He’s only been on a horse a handful of times, and those have been on pony rides where he’s been tethered to a carousel and walked in a circle,” Condie said. “He has never felt the thrill of being free to direct a horse with both speed and direction.”

Carson is like many young boys and girls who yearn for a horse—who read horse stories and dream about horses; who play with horse toys and watch horse movies. He surrounds himself with all things equine.

As a parent, your child might have contracted horse fever too. And, you might see promoting animal relationships as a healthy road to developing your child’s self-confidence, compassion, responsibility, and sportsmanship. But you might also be overwhelmed at the thought of how to get involved in a safe and productive manner. Here are a few youth programs that can ease you into the horse industry while educating you and your child on safe and humane care, riding skills, and activities.

When contacting organizations, ask these questions:

  • What are the fees involved?
  • What activities are offered?
  • When and where does the program meet?
  • What are the expectations for member and parents?

Local Lesson Programs

Depending on your location, riding lessons might be your first line of action. Many boarding stables retain a ridi