السبت 22 يونيو 2024

Fitness for Equestrian Kids & Youth

موقع أيام نيوز

I get asked frequently about exercises that would be suitable for children and youth. Clients want to know how to help their kids avoid injury, develop as athletes, and even leverage a child’s interest in riding to inspire more activity in general. At a Pony Club clinic I taught this spring, the emphasis was on fun as I helped about 20 kids ranging from ages seven to seventeen understand basic cardiovascular conditioning, strengthening exercises, and stretches. Luckily for me, they came to my part of the clinic after their session on conditioning their ponies for combined training events; having just learned about principles, practices, and concepts for conditioning their horses, it was easier for them to understand similar ideas for their own fitness.

Clearly, each age group has different physical requirements and limitations. The new Sport Canada Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) guidelines which will be implemented through Equine Canada programs emphasize that children’s programs should focus on fun, development (physical and mental), and wellness, and the importance of spending significantly more time training than competing.

General sport conditioning guidelines indicate that children under 14 should be introduced to the widest variety of activities without too much specialization. Specialization begins to occur through the teens, and it is not until the later teens and twenties that training is highly focused.

The guidelines affect a child’s development both as a rider and as an athlete in general. If you have children in other sports, you will notice a close mapping between their activities in those sports and the LTAD stages. As riders, younger children are best introduced to as wide a variety of equestrian disciplines as possible. There is plenty of time for them to specify as they mature and start to show clear strengths and tendencies. In the meantime, fostering a healthy sportsmanship and leadership attitude, and other qualities such as patience and self-discipline early on, will provide them with psychological tools to excel under pressure later in life. Many good riders break down under pressure as adults. Also, should your child hit the teenage years and abandon horses altogether, your investment in their riding will still bring dividends in other areas of their life.