The Styles of Being an Equestrian

When you think of sports, what comes to mind? Most people would say football, basketball or soccer. However, horseback riding is a lesser-known extremely competitive and intricate sport.

Sara Byrne and Shaina Lowenthal

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When you think of sports, what comes to mind? Most people would say football, basketball or soccer. However, horseback riding is a lesser-known extremely competitive and intricate sport. Some of our own students at HANC even show in horseback riding competitions!  Horseback riding underlies quite a few different aspects.  Unfortunately, this happens to be a belittled sport due to the fact that people don’t have the correct knowledge about it.  Here are several styles of riding that require different types of training and skills:

  1. The first style is classic show jumping. In other words, when the horse runs around the ring jumping over large sticks. This, believe it or not, is extremely competitive and has several aspects to it.  There’s hunters, jumpers, and equitation which are all different ways the judge judges the class.  Hunters is based on the horse and how the horse looks.  The rider needs to have a strong connection with their horse and needs to change their body language to allow the horse to understand what you’re asking.  Jumpers is all based on time and if you have any mistakes, for example if the horse knocks down a rail of the jump it could effect your overall score. You have to beat the clock to win.  Equitation is similar to hunters but instead of the horse being the center of attention, you are.  You must have the correct riding style in order to win the class.
  2. The second unique way of riding is dressage. In this category the horse “dances” around the ring.  The horses are trained different moves to show off in the ring.
  3. Cross-country is another style of jumping. Similar to cross-country on foot, there are obstacles designed for the horse and rider.  It is based on endurance of both you and your horse.  To achieve this, you need an extremely well trained horse.  Some obstacles you’ll find in this are large jumps, going up hill or down hill, and water obstacle.  With all this you also have to stay in a time frame similar to jumpers.
  4. Polo is an interesting sport within horseback riding. There are two different teams usually with three players per team and its like a game of hockey but on horses.  The riders carry a long mallet and are covered in protection like knee pads, helmet, and elbow pads.  The goal of the game is the same as any other sport which is to score as many goals for your team as possible.  They achieve this by the horses galloping around the arena bumping into each other trying to get their goal. This is a very physical sport, especially for the horses.
  5. Barrel racing is one of the many western sports out there. Here the horse and rider gallop around barrels in a cloverleaf patter in the fastest time possible.  This is one of the abundant rodeo events people tend to enjoy.

These are only a few of the many activities within horseback riding.  Each one is a challenge for both the horse handler and the horse itself.  Being an equestrian is tough but with hard work and a great connection with your horse, anything is possible.  It’s a rewarding and challenging activity which people very much underestimate.

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