Why should children learn horse archery? A child's development is at the forefront of most every parent's mind. Parents spend a lot of time working to teach and create experiences that will help their child develop into a happy, healthy and successful adult. So why should a parents spend some of this vital development period sending their child to learn horse archery? Well, I am so glad you asked because I would love nothing more than to talk about it. Let's list a couple of important realms of development, and then we will talk about how doing horse archery will positively affect them.
To begin with let's talk about physical development. This is the most obvious realm of growth that a child goes through from the time they are born into young adulthood, being fully physically matured at 25. Physical development in young children happens very rapidly. Sometimes taking huge coordination and muscular leaps in a matter of weeks. This is why its incredibly important to engage your child in movement and play when they are young. Participating in any sport will help your child to create pathways in their brain for using their body in different ways. For example, soccer will teach your child how to maneuver their feet and strengthen their cardiovascular system and legs. Horseback archery on the other hand, involves the entire body. A child doing horse archery will learn how to use their hands, core, legs and eyes to balance, ride, aim and shoot the bow. Horse archery involves not just fine motor skills, but also core balance and pelvic strength which will improve overall muscular health and development and help prevent back pain and injuries.
Mental development is another critical realm for children and young adults. When a child is young their brain is the most malleable. The experiences they have as a young child will go on to hugely impact them in later adulthood. Children who learn new skills, overcome challenges and have many positive adults encouraging them are more likely to become mentally healthy, happy and successful adults. Horseback archery teaches a child to focus and stay positive through the practice of archery, a meditative sport. Working with horses teaches children to have empathy, be assertive and to keep a positive attitude. Horses are conscious beings and working a horse teaches the important skill of learning to accept when something doesn't go your way.
The final realm is Social Development. This is arguably one of the most important for long term happiness. We know that people with strong community live longer, happier and healthier lives. A child's social development primarily happens when they are very young. They need to learn social skills like reciprocity, communication and forgiveness to have meaningful connections throughout their life. Horses are the most impactful social teachers in this sport. They live in family groups and have social styles that are very similar to humans. This is why humans and horses have worked so well together. Horses teach children the value of give and take relationships, non-verbal communication and forgiveness. As riders we often make mistakes, and sometimes our horses make mistakes too. Community is also built by making friends with other horse archers their age and healthy competition mixed with good sportsmanship.
Horse archery is an activity that builds relationships with humans and horses. It involves the whole person: body, mind and spirit. To shoot an arrow off a galloping horse requires a trusting rider and horse team, a calm mind, and joyful spirit.
Safety is always the most important thing in every element of life, and especially in one that involves independent animals and projectiles. We value physical, emotional and social safety more than anything else at Ridgeline. In pursuit of this value, all of our instructors a SafeSport Certified. All riders wear an STMI certified riding helmet at all times. All students use foam tipped arrows until they pass a safety skill test. Horses are trained daily and carefully matched with students to ensure safety. At Ridgeline we have a goal of 0 incidents that has been upheld to date.