Kids saddle up for horse ownership

Tina Zhao (8) carefully plaits the mane of 23-year-old former racehorse Chester at the Balance Equestrian holiday programme in Invercargill.

MANY schoolchildren dream of owning their own horse or pony but seldom see the reality of it.

Balance Equestrian has stepped up to change that by providing a programme where children could adopt a horse for a week.

The week-long adoption programme allowed the children to discover all the highs and lows of equine ownership including mucking out stalls, grooming, hoof care and feeding.

Traditionally, horse ownership could be quite elitist, Balance Equestrian owners Phil and Monique Koch said.

“We offer these as a taster of horse ownership. It’s not just about riding.

“We are looking to provide a place where kids can learn about horses without it being too costly.”

Children up to the age of 14 could come to hang out with the horses, and learn about nutrition, first aid and health – temperature, pusle and respiration – and to know when to call a vet.

A good amount of time was also spent in the tack room learning about tack cleaning and caring for the equipment.

The holiday programme, held in Waihopai, Invercargill, had proved to be so popular with children and parents, all classes were at capacity.

It was now planned to run the programmes about four times a year as the inaugural programme had been such a success, Mr Koch said.

Bookings were at capacity for the first year the holiday programme had operated.

The equestrian centre has also added another level to its equine consultancy services and training programmes, with riding instructor Jade Win teaching children horsemanship skills which focused on balance and practical skills such as safely opening a gate from the saddle.

Saddle club offered children an affordable opportunity of horse ownership.

Horses weren’t the only animal which captured the hearts of the children attending the holiday programme last week.

The centre’s chooks nesting in the stables added some delight for the children as they discovered eggs among the hay each morning. The quirky hens had their own hen house but preferred to nest in the stables.

Sophie Morrison (7) said she would love to own a horse after joining the group for the week.

“It’s been amazing. It was the first time this week I had ridden a horse. It was a bit scary at first but I just kept doing it and it wasn’t so scary,” Sophie said.

But her most favourite part of the week… “finding the chicken eggs in the stable”.

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