Everyone knows that toy horses are fun to play with, but did you know they can be educational too? Exposing your child to different kinds of horse toys can teach your child empathy, compassion, and independence. Want to find out how? Keep reading for 7 reasons to choose horse toys for girls (and boys, too).
Horse toys spark the imagination
What little girl hasn’t dreamed of riding through the forest on a magical unicorn? Unfortunately, unicorns aren’t real – but they’re alive and well in our imaginations. Horses are majestic and awe-inspiring creatures, but it can often be difficult to get close to them in real life. So what’s the next best thing?
Imaginative play is important for healthy development. Open-ended toys (such as dolls and toy horses) foster creativity, and can help children develop social skills as well.
A doll and her trusty horse can go on many adventures together, just the two of them! If your child is horse-crazy, she may want to orchestrate elaborate show jumping competition scenarios complete with contestants, judges, and prizes. Or, she can take the fun outside and set up a large obstacle course for a team of enthusiastic hobby horse riders. The possibilities are endless.
Quell the please for “I want a horse!”
It can be so difficult to hear a child’s repeated requests for something that’s out of your budget or ability to give. We want to give our children everything they desire, but a real-live horse is often out of reach for most families.
Often, children can be satisfied with the next best thing – a lifelike horse toy that they can care for like a real horse (but without all the food bills or manure). If a simple stuffed animal doesn’t suffice, there are large rideable animatronic horse toys that just may do the trick.
Taking care of horses promotes independence and hard work
If you’ve ever been to a local riding school, you’ve probably seen half a dozen or more barn regulars working diligently – sweeping aisles, filling water buckets, or grooming horses. Horses are a lot of work, and most riding stables couldn’t function without this dedicated group. These girls and boys quickly learn the importance of independence and hard work, which are skills that they can bring with them into adulthood.
Unfortunately, not every child gets the opportunity to spend hours at a barn, no matter how much they’d like to. If you want your child to get the most out of their horse toy experience, read a couple of books together about horse care. Your child can then become a genuine equine enthusiast too (even if it’s only in her imagination).
They support real live horse care
All toys can help children navigate and prepare for hypothetical situations that they may encounter in the real world. With horse toys, children can practice their skills taking care of a real horse, but without the expense and responsibility.
Taking care of live horses and ponies requires time, effort, and knowledge. All of these things can be gained over time, but practice makes perfect! If you don’t have an actual horse at home to practice on, a toy horse can be the next best thing.
If your child is already an equestrian, she may want to practice setting up an imaginary competition. This could help calm her nerves before the big day as she practices a jumping course or dressage test with her collection of toy horses.
I learned how to do several different braiding techniques simply by practicing on my ever-tolerant toy horse with a flowing mane and tail (many real-life horses thank you for your service, Buttercup). These skills saved me much time and effort in the barn.
They inspire empathy and caring for others
While all children experiment through play (and some may put their dolls in precarious positions at times), many children act out real-life scenarios with their toys. Children learn through play, and imaginative play helps them figure out the world around them – as well as relating to others. A young girl who has trouble with her peers may benefit from acting out hypothetical scenarios at a pretend riding school.
Even pretend horses require care and attention! Your child can practice responsibility by feeding, watering, and grooming her toy horses.
Horse toys can encourage physical activity
Horseback riding is a physical sport that requires strength, coordination, patience, and agility. It’s a lot like riding a bike – if the bike is four feet off the ground, weighs a thousand pounds, and has a mind of its own. If your child is lucky enough to take a weekly lesson (and even if she doesn’t), she may want to spend her time practicing out of the saddle with a toy hobby horse.
Did you know hobby horse riding is an organized sport in Finland? Girls take these “riding” competitions very seriously – almost as though their stick horses were real. And it looks like a lot of imaginative fun, too!
Young equestrians can practice with a hobby horse to increase physical endurance and sharpen their mental focus. These simple horse toys can be easy tools to help remember complicated dressage or show jumping patterns for an upcoming competition.
There’s a horse toy for every age group
When you’re choosing any toy for your child, always consider the recommended age range. These ranges are usually related to safety, and they’ll tell you whether or not a toy contains small parts or other hazards. Luckily, there’s a horse toy out there to fit the needs of children of all ages.
The youngest children can enjoy a hardy plush horse, but older children may enjoy collecting sophisticated scale models. There are plain figurines, stuffed animals, or even animatronic robot horses! If you’ve got the room, there are plenty of ride-on horse toys too – so your child can pretend to be a real-live cowgirl.
At the end of the day, horse toys are just plain fun!
Even though they may be simple, horse toys are fun – especially for your horse-crazy girl. Your child can construct elaborate imaginative scenarios with their stable full of playmates, or spend hours brushing and braiding their manes and tails. Or they can head outside for some trail riding adventures, or send their pony pals to the moon for some space exploration. Equestrian astronauts? Why not! The sky is the limit when you choose horse toys for your girls (and boys, too).