A "tack box" is a trunk where horse owners keep their saddle, bridle and grooming items. These items are called the horse's tack. As a spin-off of the very successful summer fishing campaign, "Trade your Xbox for a Tacklebox," spearheaded by Bass Pro Shops, I propose, in support of an equestrian theme, "Trade your Xbox for a Tack Box!"
Owning horses and horseback riding changes the outlook of a family. It encourages them to become more physically fit along with being more communicative and connected with one another.
Within the last 10 years, America and its children have become severely addicted to their smartphones, laptops and video games. Children and adults are now electronically connected at all times.
This type of cyber-experience dependency has especially affected the younger generation. Parents are starting to see just how disconnected their children are becoming from the world around them.
This younger generation exhibits more trouble communicating, are the most overweight in the history of America, are on more medications and antidepressants than any other generation, and most importantly, spend very little time outside exploring and having adventures with real friends.
It seems that the more we are cyber-connected, the more we are disconnected to the real world around us. The truth is that these cyber devices are controlling our lives. People need to take their lives back, feel connected to others and realize that friends are REAL and not just a number accumulated on Facebook.
Horseback riding and the interaction with horses can change and fix this downward social cycle. Not only is horseback riding a very active outdoor sport, it also connects the rider to another living, breathing being that responds instantly to them.
A horse encourages the rider to experience life by sharing its energy moods and getting the person active. Horses teach responsibility by their care, provide rewards for doing a job well done in their condition and give a high from the feeling of accomplishing riding goals.
When your child rides horseback with other like-minded children, it builds real friendship along with actual physical activity. Children's stamina and hand-eye coordination improves, as well as their moods, which is a welcome relief to any household that has teenagers as a part of the family.
Computer games have become so realistic that children are now addicted to an immediate high-level type of response, similar to how caffeine affects the brain. Because of this hyper response, children are having issues learning how to deal with normal life's problems and downtime in the real world.
In addition, children and others may be having difficulties creating bonded friendships. They may also experience cyber bullying and feel as if they can't get away from the constant stimuli. These cyber experiences feel so real to them that they can't tell the difference between "real life" and "cyber life."
Help a child experience life through horses and a tack box. There are so many benefits to be gained from being around horses and riding on their backs. Now is the time to visit a horse stable or take a ride on a horse.
Lori Ricigliano is a licensed horse judge, trainer and riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She has held her USEF/AHA "R" Rated license as a horse judge for more than 25 years and operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is www.RiciglianoFarms.com.