I always said I was really happy to have had only girls, because I would never make a good “boy daddy”. When I grew up in Germany, I was trained in what is generally perceived to be ‘sissy stuff’ here in North America – ballroom dancing, ice dancing, and riding. I would have been lost having to take my male children to early morning hockey tournaments, baseball games, or football camp. (not to mention that I truly enjoy watching sports where every single competitor does something different – it was bad enough when the kids were still in competitive swimming and we had to spend every weekend at a hot, noisy, chlorinated pool!) In Germany, especially among my circle of friends, pretty much every guy I knew was a rider. It was considered the ‘de rigueur’ and accepted ‘macho’ sport that I guess hockey is in Canada, but here I think it is still the exception rather than the rule that boys are brought up to ride – or stick with it for very long even if they come from a ‘horsey’ background. Why is that? I went to my good friend Dr. James Warson, MD, Author of “The Rider’s Pain Free Back” for a possible medical reason behind this “cultural phenomenon”… He came up with a pretty insightful reason.
Many an equestrian mother has longed for the day when her son could accompany her riding. Too often the scene has been this – several rides with decreasing son’s interest and an eventual loss of interest altogether. The reason may be purely biological, and possibly correctable. The young male rider has something to worry about between him and the saddle, his scrotum and its contents. The scrotum has three muscular structures within it; the Dartos tunic in the wall of the scrotum, the vas deferens ( the thing they cut when doing a vasectomy), and the cremaster muscle, which retracts the scrotum upwards. In a prepubescent male, the cremaster muscle functions poorly, so the poor lad often finds himself suffering repeated concussion of his testes when riding. This is more pronounced at the trot and canter, and explains young boys’ reluctance to advance above a walk. The whole thing becomes rather embarrassing to a young boy to try to explain to mom, so he just turns his interest elsewhere.
But - there is hope! Recent advances are being considered in riding pants of young boys to address this problem, and hopefully mother and son will be enjoying rides together soon. Our patented Schleese AdapTree® is another innovation that will accommodate the male physiology much more comfortably – for obvious reasons.
Have any of you had any experience with young boys initially interested in riding but then giving it up pretty quickly?
Jochen Schleese, CMS, CSFT, CEE