Should Kids Ride Stallions
 By Saferaphus   •   14th Nov 2017   •   389 views   •   0 comments
A local newspaper recently carried a story about a young girl who is making history by being the first youth rider to ride a stallion at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, a prestigious indoor agricultural and horse show held for the last ninety five years in Toronto, Ontario in November. This follows a change in the the countryís national equestrian federation rulings that allow junior competitors aged fifteen to eighteen to ride stallions in jumper classes. Previous to the change, only adult competitors eighteen and over were allowed to ride stallions.

The change is welcomed by many breeders. Pony breeders struggle with not being able to display their stallions under saddle. In this case, the owner of the pony is thrilled to be able to showcase her Connemara stallion in the pony jumpers division with a talented young rider on board. But of course, there has been some opposition to youth riders showing stallions at the Royal and elsewhere.

Should youth riders ride stallions? I think it depends on the situation. There are probably situations where it will work, and many where it definitely will not. A few years ago, I followed the blog of a woman living in Europe whose very young daughter was taking dressage lessons. The school was extremely formal. You didnít show up in schooling tights or go to shows in a plain old black hunt jacket. And, most of the school horses were stallions. Many people argued that it was dangerous to place a young child on a large dressage horse, who also happened to be a stallion. But, for the owners of the stable, this is how they did things. The horses were very closely managed, the rider did little handling of the horse outside of the ring and to them it was all normal. But, to many, this way of handling and riding horses was quite different.

Like this European riding school, The Royal and most FEI sanctioned shows are very highly organized and managed. There is indoor stabling and horses are cared for by grooms and other assistants. In most classes, there is only one horse in the ring at a time. This is not how it's done at most open shows. The typical open show has trailers parked here and there, direct access to a busy highway, kids, baby strollers and dogs on leashes along with horses trotting to and fro. Fall fairs, gymkhanas and other small shows can busy, chaotic places, inside the show ring and out. And in this type of situation, a youth rider on a stallion is a dangerous combination. In fact, a stallion on the grounds at all presents extra risk, no matter the age of the rider.

Trail riding is another place kids and stallions would not be a good mix. There simply isnít any way to control who lets their horse get too close to yours, or ensure any horse will be quickly captured if the rider comes off. At any event, mares can be in season, or other stallions can be present. So a stallion on the trail needs the full attention of any rider or handler, although Iíll admit, that many adults probably arenít up to the task either.

Co you think it's okay for kids to ride stallions? Is there a time and a place? Are there really exceptional stallions that are kids safe? Or are stallions misunderstood? What do you think?
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