‘It’s not just a girls’ sport’: mother of pony-mad five-year-old challenges stereotypes

  • The mother of a pony-mad five-year-old hopes the “stigma” of boys riding can be decreased, and hopes the industry can acknowledge it is not just a girls’ sport.

    Jessica Flack told H&H her son Dylan enjoys riding and competing his pony Pepper, including representing his branch of the Pony Club, “just as much as the girls”.

    But not only has she found it a struggle to find clothes that fit and are not pink, sparkly or covered in unicorns, she is also concerned about whether her son will want to keep riding in future

    “I’ve always had and worked with horses, and he’s always been round them but I never really thought about getting him a pony,” she said. “It just seemed to happen.

    “He’s always been keen, especially so now he can jump and go fast! But it’s so hard trying to get what he needs.”

    Jessica said it is a general perception that ponies and little girls go together, citing a widely shared social media post about reasons to “buy your daughter a pony”, in which she changed “daughter” to “child”.

    “It worries me a bit,” she said. “He’s only five and all his friends think it’s really cool he’s got a pony but as he gets older, it could be a problem, and that could be why some boys stop riding. I know people whose sons have been called names, and they don’t ride any more.

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    “It’s weird it’s seen as a girls’ sport when such a high percentage of the top riders are men; I don’t get it.”

    Jessica said she taught in a riding school for four years, and almost none of her pupils were boys.

    “Maybe non-horsey people think they’ll try little girls on riding, but not their little boys,” she said. “I want to make it more normal, as the whole stereotype worries me. I don’t want Dylan to think riding’s a girls’ sport when he gets older.”

    Do you have a young son who rides; do you think riding is seen as a girls’ sport? Email hhletters@futurenet.com for your chance to be featured on our letters page. The letter of the week wins a bottle of Champagne Taittinger.

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