People have this mistaken impression that being an equestrian means you're rich, and that the girls who grow up riding and showing horses are spoiled and entitled. Well, I guess if you own a horse, and you're doing the pro-level show circuit, there's definitely a lot of money being thrown around. That's not the only way to do things, though! Trust me, riding horses is good for kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds, and all kinds of kids and teens do it.

I spent a good portion of my youth devoted to horses and riding. I dreamed of being an Olympic equestrian. I never had my own horse, but I worked my way up from group lessons to eventually leasing a horse from someone and taking private lessons so that I could compete in shows. I spent every weekend and several weeknights in the barn, cleaning, working, teaching, training, and bonding with the horses; doing pretty much everything I could to be with them. My parents, bless their hearts, spent all of their money on my riding gear and lessons, and I worked in the barn to get whatever extra time I could. I lived and breathed horses. I even considered the possibility of becoming a police officer, so that I could join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and make it a career. It was a pretty serious devotion. I eventually had to move on due to a knee condition that riding made worse, but I miss it terribly.

The good news: Now that I'm a mom, I at least get to make use of all the skills I developed during my years hanging around a barn. Sure, riding horses and raising kids might not seem related on a surface level, but trust me — there are certain things that only equestrians learn, and all of it is insanely useful when parenting. OK, I'm sure there are plenty of other awesome ways to become a strong parent, but frankly, I don't know how people who didn't basically grow up obsessed with horseback riding learned all of these vital parenting skills. All of the time I spent working with horses taught me so many things that have made me a more complete person, and have inspired me to do my best to instill some of these habits and qualities in my own kids.

You're Not Afraid To Get Dirty


You cannot be around horses and not get dirt on your hands, your clothes, and pretty much everywhere else. Your tolerance for dirt doesn't need to translate to your home, but it can make you a little less prissy about your kid jumping in mud puddles.

You Have A Strong Work Ethic

When you ride horses, you get used to doing a lot. You muck out stalls, you groom your horse, saddle them; You warm them up and work on your riding technique and then cool them down; You unsaddle, groom and feed your horse. It all requires muscle, perseverance, and dedication, and not only do you use all of those qualities every day as a mom, but passing those things along to your child feels so wonderful.

You Get Used To Being Around Poop A Lot


Sh*t happens when you work with horses, and sh*t happens when you have babies. Need I say more?

Mucking Out Stalls

Anyone who rides horses has to do it, at some point. There is nothing more humbling than cleaning gigantic piles of crap with a shovel. That's some important personal development going on right there.

Your Love Of Animals


Horses rarely live in an equine-only environment. There are barn cats or barn dogs, and you end up loving on them all. And passing on a love of animals is always a good thing. I also feel like it taught me how to feel abiding fondness for little creatures being underfoot while I'm trying to get stuff done.

Taking Care Of Horses

It's so important to understand that owning (or having use of) an animal means a lot more than just loving it. You have to feed them, groom them, exercise them, and take care of them. I don't think I really need to hold your hand through the parallel here.

Not Being Scared Of Large Animals


This is a thing, believe it or not. But an equestrian will never let that fear develop in their own child.

Working Hard To Get What You Want

For those of us who loved horses but weren't swimming in money growing up, we spent a lot of time doing grunt work in the barn in order to get credit toward lessons or boarding someone else's horse. So technically, my first job was at age 12, and I'd be happy to see my daughter doing the same thing at that age.

Practice Makes Perfect


Falling...erm, failing happens when you ride horses. They don't always do what you want them to because they have their own minds. Again, I think you can connect the dots between this and motherhood on your own.

Attention To Detail

Whether it's remembering to pick out your horse's hooves or making sure every buckle is done up, those little details make all the difference in your horse's (and your) safety. Something it's important to have as a mom, too.

The Sheer Awe At Such A Magnificent Animal


Reverence for the power, beauty and love that these creatures share with us can only make you a better human being, really. Teaching this to your child is a gift.

Developing A Rapport


This. Who isn't a better person once they've experienced this kind of bond and rapport with another being? I think parents, and their bond with their kids, are the only people besides equestrians who understand this on the same level.