All I want for Christmas is a pony…
I think this question is one of the most common I get on my website. So today’s blog is all about answering it! First, let me just say that I know ALL about really, really, REALLY wanting a horse. I’ve been there. That said, I also understand the concern parents might have about getting their child a horse of his or her own.
As a child asking your parents for a horse, you need to remember what I said in the “Horse care, beware!” blog (maybe go back and read it if you haven’t). Horses are expensive, time-consuming, even potentially dangerous. In addition, how do your parents know that tomorrow you won’t wake up and decide that now you’re into tennis–or dancing, or art, or swimming–instead of horses?
So, if you really want to convince your parents to get you a horse, you need to do the following things (Of course, these pointers also apply if you just want to take riding lessons or work at a barn and your parents still aren’t interested):
1. Find out exactly why they don’t want to get you a horse. Is it because it’s too expensive? Is it because they are worried you won’t take good care of it? Is it because you have never even ridden before and they aren’t convinced that you’ll stick with riding? Is it because they are worried you will get injured? It’s really important when you ask your parents why, that you listen very closely and without any eye-rolling or arguing or sighing. You have to actually hear what they are saying–they want to be understood just as much as you do. Parents reading this, make sure you are honest and open with your child when he or she approaches you. Don’t be afraid to really discuss the concerns you have!
2. Once you know what their concerns are, find out ways to address those concerns. If the concern is money, brainstorm some ideas of how you could earn some money to help out. Or consider leasing a horse first (much less expensive than owning your own horse). If the concern is safety, look at safety gear together (liking riding vests) and talk about what things you could all do to minimize the risk involved with riding. If it’s because they aren’t sure you’ll stick with riding, make an agreement on how long you would need to take lessons before they will reconsider getting a horse–maybe weekly lessons for two years? Stay calm and honestly look at their concerns. Parents, you can help out this process by considering why your son or daughter wants so badly to be involved with horses, and what you would need to feel comfortable with the idea.
3. Consider taking it in steps. Instead of starting out asking for a horse, start with asking for weekly riding lessons. If these go well, and you are still interested, then you can talk with your parents about leasing a horse. If the lease goes well, then you can move onto buying a horse. In this way, you’ll show your parents how you are able to care for a horse and are committed to owning your own horse. For parents, be open to talking about possible compromises, like leasing. Clearly, this subject is important to your child. And here’s a chance for great lessons on planning, negotiation, responsibility, creativity and initiative!
Kids, remember that your parents aren’t just out to make your lives miserable by refusing to get you a horse. They want what’s best for you, and sometimes they just aren’t able to get you everything you want just because you want it. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you to be happy! If you work with them, often you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve together. So good luck, and here’s to a fabulous cooperation between children and their parents–and lots of happy ponies!