The next generations of Seasoned Riders
There seems to be lot of discussion today about youth riders and how the horse industry on the whole seems to be loosing youth riders. Many speak about the decline and fall of horse shows, because there is no next generation of riders out there. Others speak about how young people don’t have any interest in horses.Some say all young people are interested in is their I-Phones and I-Pads. Perhaps we have seen a slight downturn in young people who are interested in horses, but believe me there are still plenty of young people out there who couldn’t be more enthusiastic about horses, riding and showing.
There are still kids out there who are growing up around horses. Whether it’s Mom and Dad who have those horses or Grandma and Grandpa the horse gene is still being passed on. There are also kids out there whose folks have no interest in horses, but they have convinced Mom and Dad that spending every weekend showing and trail riding is a good idea. No, I don’t believe that the young people today have no interest in horses. Standing in center ring at several horse shows a year I see those kids with their horses. Perhaps there aren’t as many as when all of us were younger, but they are out there riding their horses - with those silly grins on their face all that horse enthusiasts get. The ten and under lead line class are usually well attended. They come in grinning ear to ear patting that pony’s or horse’s neck as the are lead around by an adult (or sometimes an older sibling). They are more than happy to talk to you about their horse/pony and tell you all about them. Those smiling little faces peaking out from underneath a riding helmet at you are the future of the horse industry and they are out there.
For all of you who say “ teenagers have no interest in horses anymore,” I say you are wrong. I know several teenagers who arrive early on a Saturday morning with their parents and horse in tow ready to spend the day doing what they love - riding their horse. I see them hugging their horses as they wait to come into a class. I hear the conversations they have about their horses and how proud they are of their horses. I see their face light up and watch them throw their arms around their horse when you hand them that Blue Ribbon. I see them work harder at each show and see how pleased they are when they do better.
I see them laughing as they put costumes on their horses and themselves for the costume class. Guess what -I don’t see them looking at their I-Phones too often unless it’s to show someone photos of their horses. Oh, they do get their phones out to take photos or check the time.
I have seen kids of all ages in the show ring showing their horses in performance classes and in-hand classes. I have seen them driving horses as well. I have seen two and three generations showing together. I see photographs posted on social media of Grandmas and their Grandkids out riding on the trail. I have seen photos of three generations of horsemen/women trail riding and camping together and loving it. If you talk to a 50 plus rider there is a good chance they will tell you their Grandkids love being around horses and riding with them.
I myself have a 15 year old great niece who comes to visit two or three times a year and the first place she wants to go is the barn. When she was younger and her Grandma tells her “You have to take those dirty clothes off before we go to out” Beth looks at her says “ No I don’t - I’m a horsewoman,” and she means it. She as always wanted groom the horse and help tack them up. If has teenager she always wants ride all the horses and would rather ride than go to an amusement park. She has that silly grin when she is riding. She talks about when she will be able to have her own horse.
So in conclusion I have no doubt that the torch will be carried on for generations to come.