Horseback riding is most definitely a sport


When somebody tries to tell me that horseback riding is not a sport, the first thing I do is roll my eyes and tell myself to calm down. As the daughter of a horse trainer and growing up around brilliant, hardworking, passionate, athletic riders, it is very frustrating that onlookers do not give the sport the credentials it deserves. Most observers think that riding is easy because the riders look graceful and poised. What many do not see is the blood, sweat, and tears that go on during hours of practice, lessons, and barn chores.

Many athletes make their sport look easy; all a runner has to do is move their legs, all a dancer has to do is sway their body to the rhythm, all a skier has to do is go down the slope. But if you have ever ran in a race, danced in a show or skied down a slope, you know that is not the case. Any serious athlete has spent hours, days, weeks, and even years training and striving to become better at their craft. As their skills grow, their body also becomes stronger. Some of the strongest people I know are equestrians. Most riders do all the hard manual work themselves. Lifting 50lb bags of feed, dumping wheelbarrows, loading up hay bale after hay bale. Did I mention controlling a 1,200 animal with your legs? Talk about muscle.

The physical work isn’t the only aspect that makes horseback riding such a sport. It is also the mentality. Riders learn teamwork through the partnership and the communication needed to reach an animal. A horse and the rider is one of the greatest examples of teamwork. A rider also learns so much from their coach and trainer. While there is a professional bond, most students and trainers create an emotional bond through working together for so long. They’ve come together through so many failures, triumphs, and victories. Horseback riding truly is like any other sport in those aspects.

Recently, I haven’t been out to the barn as much as I should be, and part of that is the dread of how sore I will be the day after I ride. The pain after taking a break from riding and then one day just jumping back on is incredible. So if someone is a doubter in the verification of the sport, I highly suggest them to hop on a horse. First of all, they will see the skill required to ride a horse, and do it well. And second of all, they will see the physical strength and mental coordination it takes for both themselves and the controlling of the horse. It is easy to plop up on a horse and just sit there but to truly ride takes years of hard work. And if they still have doubt, all I have to say is – it’s in the Olympics.