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Kids and Competition- Are They Ready?

Making the Most Out of Competition

Competition can be a great way to get your children involved in the care of the horses in your stable. Most experts agree that children should have the opportunity to show what they raise. So if your child shows an interest in joining an equestrian competition (whether itís 4-H, Barrel racing, etc) it is important that they understand the commitment that they must make in order to compete. Let them handle every aspect of the horseís daily care. Guide and teach them the proper way to care for horses, and let them take the reins once they understand the basics.

Competition is also a great motivating tool. If they lose one competition, urge them to work harder to win the next one. There is a fine line between motivating and pushing, so it is important that you set boundaries as the parent or authority figure. After a competition, discuss with your child things that they could have done differently. If they would have set aside more time to practice would it have helped them any? Do they need to study up on horse care issues? What did the winning horse/person do that they didnít? Sometimes the answer will be clear, sometimes it may not be. The important thing is to talk and communicate with your child.

Teaching Kids about Good Sportsmanship

As with all competitive sports, losing is a part of the game. For every winner, there are 10 losers. So, it is important that you discuss the proper way to deal with a win (or a loss) with your child. Teach them the importance of being humble, and congratulating the winner every single time. If your child wins, they should shake hands with each and every competitor.

Local equestrian competitions are often filled with the same competitors, so it is very likely that your child will begin to develop friendships with the other children in the ring. This can be a good and a bad thing, as rivalries are a natural progression when competition is involved. Watch your child closely, and if you see such relationships forming, speak up! Remind them that each and every child in the competition has the same chance of winning and losing, and that if anything, they should befriend those that possess skills and traits that they may be lacking.

Have Fun!

Only you know your child, and can properly access whether they are ready for competition. Children mature at different speeds, so donít use age as a determining factor. The child must be ready for hard work, determination, and be old enough to understand the complexities that go along with competitive sports. And never forget the ďfunĒ factor. If competition or horse care stops being fun for you or your child, move on to something else. Donít try to force your child to pursue something that they donít have their heart in.

 

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