As well as bringing our ponies to your party, we also run regular, hand-led pony rides in the forest at Kinglake and Flowerdale. We are located less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs. Many families take the opportunity to visit Kinglake National Park while in the area.
Pony rides and engaging with animals
Caring for animals has many hidden benefits for children, such as learning about empathy, respect, relationships, and the environment. Pets can have a calming influence on children as well. Experts say that observing and interacting with animals can positively affect children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.
Studies show that children with dogs engage in more physical activity for longer periods of time than children who don’t have a dog. Furthermore, another study found that children who have early contact with dogs and cats are healthier and have fewer respiratory infections and ear infections. In addition, they have reduced incidents of allergies, have more stable immune systems, and need shorter courses of antibiotics than children without contact with any pets. Ponies included!
According to the United Kingdom’s Pet Council, children with pets have higher self esteem, greater empathy and better social skills. Children often talk to and confide in their pets in ways they wouldn’t with people. They are more confident with tasks that they find difficult, simply because animals don’t care if mistakes are made, are non judgemental, and provide unconditional love. Studies in Australia have shown better school attendance in classes with animal mascots, and a reduction in vandalism.
Pets can actually help children make new friends too. They are more likely to approach and interact with other children who are playing with an animal, which bridges the gap between potential playmates. But this isn’t only relevant for children, adults can also benefit from friendships facilitated by pets, resulting in new social support networks.
Can owning a dog help children to excel in school? Yes, according to a study in 2011. It showed that children who read aloud to a dog improved their reading skills by having a higher words-per-minute reading rate. This is possibly due to the dog’s ability to reduce the child’s stress and by providing non judgemental support. Owning a pet may also encourage children to have an interest in animals in general and in turn lead to study in research and science.
How old do the children need to be for a pony ride in the forest?
This is something we are asked regularly by mums and dads. Most riding establishments have restrictions on age due to the fact that the children would be riding solo at the establishment. However because our rides are hand-led (that is, someone leading the pony) it is very safe, so we can offer these rides to any age group. If you have an enthusiastic 3 year old, we would love to help them enjoy a pony ride!
Pony rides and forest therapy
Forest Therapy first became popular in Japan in the 1980’s and it’s many benefits in physical and mental health has seen it spread into other countries around the world, including Australia. Participants engage with nature through the 5 senses by practising a set of activities with the help of a guide. See p. 14 in Victorian Landcare magazine. https://www.landcarevic.org.au/assets/Uploads/VLCM-75-lo-res.pdf
Lifestyle diseases are the leading cause of ill health in Australia. By engaging in gentle physical exercise, Forest Therapy has multiple direct benefits including:
- reduced blood pressure
- lowered pulse rate
- reduced stress hormone levels
- reduced anxiety and depression
- increased positive mood
- enhanced energy levels
- better concentration
Indirect benefits include:
- overall fitness levels
- improved immune system
- better sleep
- weight loss
- reduced risk of heart and lung disease
- lessens feelings of stress
- higher self confidence
Pony rides in the forest as a relaxing family activity
As owners and handlers of ponies regularly engaged in forest rides, we see the benefits of gentle outdoor exercise within the first 5 minutes of departure! Deep sighs, relaxation of their mental state, and being open to new opportunites for learning are not only observed in the ponies! Children, their families and friends benefit too and unanimously enjoy the experience.
It’s not just dogs and cats that have so many health benefits, but horses and ponies too! Pony rides in the forest are becoming increasingly popular as parents and carers recognise the benefits of participating in outdoor activities and engaging with the ponies. Mums and dads enjoy the walk as well, and have numerous opportunities to take photos or videos of the children riding the ponies. We can facilitate small groups or individual experiences.
So come on, mums and dads! Get outside and enjoy pony rides in the forest!