Horseback Riding

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Horseback riding (or Equestrian) is one of the most intense sports known to man. Not only because it's physically challenging, but it takes more than athleticism. Horseback riding takes commitment, time, patience, and most importantly building a bond with your horse. If you don't have a good relationship more.


Horseback riding is such a broad spectrum, but in the majority of it's disciplines it is definitely one of the hardest sports. (Behind gymnastics, that's just crazy hard props to all you high level gymnasts out there) There are a lot of things in the horse world that can't be learned from a book or watching videos they have to be felt. As a rider one has to feel every movement of the horse underneath them and understand what each means. They need to be able to come down from a full gallop to a walk using their leg ans seat without pulling on their horses mouth.

Western Riders have to control their horses with shifts of body weight, leg positioning and touches of rein, if one part of the body moves incorrectly they are telling the horse to do something entirely incorrect and could end up on the ground. Now try doing this going 30 MPH around barrels.

I ride a lot more English than Western and primarily event but have shown hunters jumpers and eq. Hunters have to look ...more

No way is horse riding not hard sport! In cross country, you're teaching a what, 1200 pound animal who could bolt at any given moment, to jump 4 ft into the air, clear a ditch and land lower than when it started. Guess who judges the distances? The rider. Guess who doesn't have anything holding them onto that horse whilst they are flying through the air? The rider. Try controlling said animal with just your legs, going at about 35 mhp easily, whilst thinking are my feet down, are we on the right leg, have I got enough contact with the bit, is there anything that could spook my horse, am I looking where I'm going? Yeah, it takes skill. No some of us might not be the fittest people in the world but we have calves and thighs of steel, I could do plie squats for a good 45 minutes before I start to really ache. Also, when you mount that horse, there's always something in the back of your mind saying this could be the last time you ever go near a horse because guess what, one false move and ...more

Riding is on of the hardest sports out there. It takes extreme physical skill, balance, flexibility, trust, a high pain tolerance, and real determination. We use muscles that most people don't even know they have. People who have been riding since they were children will still comment on how sore they are, or how hard their last lesson was. And it's not because we're weak. Everything is physical. People comment that we "just sit on the horse and tell it what to do" which is completely wrong. Even just "sitting there" at a walk requires muscles in your core, legs, thighs, and butt to keep on place without moving around in the saddle. We must keep perfect position: heels down, toes up, knees tight, thighs tight, butt in the saddle, posting, back straight, shoulders back, chin up, eyes forward, arms bent, wrists in, fingers tight, and making sure we do everything properly in order to send the right cues to our partner. Try remembering to do that while controlling a ...more

I have been horseback riding for five years. I've done gymnastics. I've played softball. I've swam competitively. I have also played golf for eight years. Not to take anything away from any other sports that still require hard work, but horseback riding is by far the most difficult. In no other of these sports do you have to control both yourself and an animal that is ten times stronger than you. A horse can spook, go after other horses and buck you off, and you have to control him with your leg. Do you have any idea how much strength that takes? Let me write that again. Control a 1400 pound animal WITH YOUR LEG. I only weigh 80 pounds. So it takes a little muscle. Not only that, but you have a posture to maintain with all parts of your body, and the horse's body. Did I mention that you still have to hold that position while jumping a three foot fence?

You can never be perfect at horseback riding. There's always a reason you can get better.

And not only is it one of the ...more

Can you sit on an animal ten times your size, control it, communicate with it, watch for other riders, work around other riders, keep your heels down, toes up, knee and this tight, back straight, shoulders back, head up, plan out your next move, pay attention to everything around you, look relaxed, but still keep a smile on your face and look like you're having fun? Don't get me wrong, I am having fun, but it isn't an easy thing to do. And a horse? It's an animal. It has a brain and instincts. It doesn't just walk in a circle and do everything with a human on it's back. No. It's a constant battle of using authority and command to get the horse what to do, while still letting the horse have it's own say in things. If the horse doesn't want to do this, it will stop and refuse to move. If something scares the horse (a very flightly and spooky animal), it will Buck or rear or completely take off, leaving you to hold on for dear life, try to calm it, and look like you're having a blast. It ...more

Anyone who doesn't think horseback riding is an EXTREMELY difficult sport obviously hasn't ridden a horse. And no, I don't care if you rode a horse once a trail ride when you were six. That is NOT riding a horse. Horseback riding is connecting with a 1200 lb animal and communicating without words. Horseback riding is supporting the horse with all aids imaginable, from your legs to your seat to your voice. If you're a good rider, you'll know you use every muscle with an enormous amount. You use your abs and lower back to keep your balance, your calves to do too many things to name (including telling the horse where to go, urging them forward, getting them to bend and collect, etc. ), your thighs to keep you on the horse, and not to mention, you use all your arm muscles, core, and many, many other muscles when grooming, tacking, feeding, carrying water buckets, lifting hay bales, and other chores (being an equestrian isn't all about being on the horse, you know). When you're on a horse, ...more

If you just think you can get on a horse and do the stuff we equestrians do years and years of training no it ain't that simple.

Everything to do with riding a horse has so much concentrating that has to be done. When your riding dressage you have to think about how your horse looks is he moving forward enough is he collected to a point that is almost perfect and is he listening to your aids you are giving him with your legs, hands and voice commands. You even have to think about how you look and are you the rider sitting straight and are yur heals down and your hands not moving while trotting which will make the horse not do what you really want him to because in your head you think he could but he's getting a different command.

In showjumping no matter how high you are jumping you have to make sure the horse is moving forward enough that it isn't gonna miss calculate the jump and knock a rail or if its moving to quick and its just gonna possibly hit straight into the ...more

BY FAR THE HARDEST MOST DANGEROUS SCARY ATHLETIC SPORT THERE IS! - by the way I am typing this with one hand because I fell of my horse, and broke my wrist. So there's a start. This makes me so mad and I could go on forever... Look I'm not saying that all of the other sports are not scary or DANGEROUS or difficult. But I think this deserves spot #1 equestrian is not the most recognized sport, people think that all we do is sit on a horse, and that it takes no effort... I was doing a lesson and I saw someone pass out after they got done with there jump course. People can form a love for a sport, and for there team mates. But you can't really fall in complete love with a ball, or a frisbee, or a puck. If you don't have a bond between your horse you won't make it, you need to know this animal even though its completely unpredictable and could kill you in just a split second or hospitalize you with a simple kick. Many times people will have the strongest bond with there horse and then ...more

I have been riding 11 years I'm 13 and before that 2 years on the lead, anyone who says horse riding isn't a sport or isn't a hard sport is flat out crazy. Why is it in the Olympic Games people!? I am a show jumper and also do sporting and barrel racing, and how do you think it feels directing a 600 kilo horse about metre and a half tall towards a 1 metre jump, or galloping flat stick to and around a barrel and straight back home as fast as you can go, or going flat out weaving that massive animal between a line of pole with about 5 metres set between them at flat gallop! Does that sound easy to you? Do you people have any idea how dangerous it could be if a 600 kilo animal feel over at flat gallop and crushed you? So many people have died or been seriously injured riding horses it's not funny! This sport should be number 1 on this list! Just think all horses are different some have hard mouths and when you go to pull the up you are literally pulling on a weight of 600 kilos, you ...more

You've seen people ride horses and explain how hard that is alone. Now imagine you're standing on one leg, trying to do a scorpion pose while there is a cantering, 6 and a half foot tall horse under you, putting your balance off center the entire time. Horseback vaulting basically is acrobatics on a horse, but there is so much more than that. You need to have perfect balance, be extremely flexible, know how to dance, and be strong enough to hold up three or four other people. As a child I did horseback vaulting alone. I suffered twisted ankles, broken bones, and bruises. I would never come out of a lesson unhurt. If you take vaulting on a very serious FEI scale, you practice for hours every day, and do major conditioning at the end of that. I have been so weak toward the end of my lessons sometimes that when I did a handstand my arms gave out and I fell under the galloping horses, Every movement has to be SO precise or you'll end up killing yourself from a broken neck. We don't wear ...more

I have competed in pretty well every sport and can honestly say that I find equestrian sport, more specifically show jumping to be the most difficult I have every competed in.

There is a large difference in riding a lesson horse over a 3' jump or a horse down a beach and jumping a top level show jumper. High level show jumpers are not the calm docile animals you want to walk up to and pet they are fit and high strung for the most part. If you see any of the top level equestrian athletes in the gym you would be amazed by the weights we lift and the amount of cross training we have to do. If you have any doubts try balancing between two stirrups on a horse pulling you around a course and then not getting dislodged when jumping over a 5'3 high jump that's 5'6 wide. Still not convinced then account for the fact that the horse may stumble trip abruptly halt somersault act up etc, it takes a lot of training to keep your cool when you know one miscommunication will send you away in a ...more

Horseback riding is by far one of the most difficult and most dangerous sports. Imagine pulsing squats for 60+ minutes while controlling an animal who may not really want to make those pulsing squats easy. Imagine having to relax your body enough to let it roll with the movement of a canter and still focus on control of the horse. Imagine putting your life into stirrups and a leather rope that all could snap if one thing is done wrong.

Then throw in some jumps, which some horses will refuse (leading you to slam into their neck and easily break your nose), some horses will fall (hopefully not on you, but it has happened).

Lots of sports, you fall and get up. Horseback riding, you fall, and 95% of the time you're guaranteed pretty bad bruising at the lucky end of the spectrum. Either way, you get back on that horse and finish your lesson or your course or whatever. The only people who I've not seen get back on after an injury, were those who were knocked out, had their ...more

Horse riding takes so much strength, stamina, flexibility and confidence that it's almost impossible for people who have never seriously rode to understand. And I don't blame them! Most of the time it's not even rudeness that they are going for, it's just that they literally do not understand what we go through. Most people don't realize the strength a horse has. Just because it's a herbivore, it's harmless. But they don't know that the impact of our bodies on the ground can be equivalent, or exceed, that of a car hitting you. They don't know how difficult to be independent of the horse, and yet still work in perfect harmony.

The difference between our sport and "normal" team sports is that ours involves an animal that has the instinct of running away from their fears. And we, with all the strength and agility of our bodies, have to convince it to hurl itself above a bright blue obstacle. In riding, you have to have the precision and the determination to show the ...more

Toes up! Heels down! Elbows in! Chin up! People who say that the horse does all the work could not be more wrong. If you shift your leg slightly, lower your position just a little, you could die and/ or your horse could break a leg and die. Hockey players, basketball players, pretty much every other sports only require you to fall a few inches. Horseback riders fall five feet or more, and then could get trampled by a thousand pound animal. I dare you to say its an easy sport now. If you haven't been in the saddle, going over a jump (a few times in my case on a horse who is determined to kill you) then you really can't say that horseback riding is easy and boring. In no other sport do you have to control a thousand pound animal with a mind of its own. And before you say anything about it, yes horseback riding is physical, and no the horse does not do all the work. If the you let the horse go on its own while cantering or galloping, there is a very high chance you would die within the ...more

Many really don't think about the effort that is put into the equestrian sport. In no way do I feel that other sports should be downgraded and considered not difficult, but I think it should definitely be brought more to the attention of how difficult equestrian really is. Most common sports have traits you need in order to perform well which are all mostly the same. However with equestrian you need all of those and more. I'm talking endurance, because trust me, not many people know how aerobic equestrian really is. You need a ton of strength in all parts of the body: arms, chest, shoulders, abs, thighs, quads, calves, you name it, and I can tell you how it incorporates intoned riding because all of those muscles do. It also required a very specific personality type, it's not for everyone and especially in dressage, riding requires a specific feel you need to have which takes years and years to learn because it really isn't something a trainer can teach you. They can help you a ton of ...more

I'll keep this simple... In horse back riding, your legs, as well as the reigns which your hands hold onto are your handles. Say for one instant you let go of the reigns or loosen your legs, what if the horse takes off? Imagine the strength it takes to keep yourself on the horse. What if the horse throws you off the saddle and onto it's withers? The amount of strength an skill it takes to stay on is unbelievable. I've been riding for 10 years I am 14. Part of what makes this sport hardest for me is knowing, everyday when you get on that horses back whether it's five feet off the ground or sometimes even seven, you know that the animal you are climbing up on weighs a thousand pounds more than you. And you know, if that animal decides it doesn't like you, or just doesn't want you on it's back, it can kill you in a second flat. In my experience, that is the hardest part for me. I mean yeah, for days after you ride you can be sore, and staying on when that horse takes off is nearly ...more

You know what I think about people who say Equestrianism isn't a sport? I think that they only ride push-button trail ponies. Tell me, have you ever felt freedom on the back of a creature who could kill you in one swift motion? No, no one besides an Equestrian can describe that feeling, as we're the only ones brave and strong enough to ride a horse, a creature with a mind of its own. We are part of one of the only sports which include contact with an animal of this power. We have learned to communicate with a 1,000 pound animal without words, and without the ability to speak our language. We communicate with our movements, our posture and our thoughts. Have you EVER seen a horse rider in the arena having a full-on conversation with their horse? Nope, as it is usually not allowed in the higher levels, so the riders and horses are left to speak with their passion. We start to get tired after an hour? No; we keep moving. Unlike all other sports ours builds up our strength and skills in ...more

Okay I'll try and make this quick. Horseback riding is extremely hard and dangerous! I have only been riding for about 2 1/2 years and I have so much more to learn but it is by far the hardest sport I have every tried. (I have played soccer, soft ball, and cheerleading) I recently just got a horse (about 2 weeks ago) and I have already fallen off. I cut my arm quite bad, cut my hand, and jarred the whole right side of my body and that is all because I fell on sand. I got on bareback and wasn't properly positioned when my dad let go of the reins and I wasn't on 5 seconds before my horse was off at a canter. I Event which takes extreme athleticism and mentall power. First you go to dressage which the judges are normally so very rude. You have to perform off of memory a 3-5 minute routine. (Time get higher when you go up in the levels) you have to make sure your horse looks proper, she is round, she is bent to the inside, her strides are just the right length, she had enough energy, you ...more

"Horseback riding isn't a sport! " "You just sit there." "The horse does all the work." "It's so easy." Okay, let me get a few things out there. My step-brother is a hockey player, football player, basket ball player, you name any main stream sport he's probably played at least once. But then he comes over to my sister (a gymnast), my step-sister (a cheer leader), and I then says, "It isn't a sport." He especially targets me. Well, honey, I'd like to tell you.

When you even just work with horses in general you have the courage to well at a 1200 pound animal that can kill you, the strength to haul bucket after bucket of water, the trust that the horse won't hurt you, and many more skills. When you also ride, you have strength in muscles that many other athletes don't use as much.

Now moving onto actually owning a horse. When you own a horse if you don't live on an acreage, farm, etc. you have to pay money to board this ...more

Have you ever tried Dressage? There's a /reason/ Dressage riders are considered YOUNG for the sport at thirty-five. Have you ever tried lead-changes, half-passes, leg-yields, keeping the contact with your horses mouth?

You're concentrating, not only, on you, but also the horse. You need to get AND maintain the horse's bend, speed, body position, but you need to concentrate on where your hands are, how heavy you're sitting in the saddle, where your legs are. Have you ever tried to do that? No? Then you don't know how intensely hard this sport is.

A horse is an animal that will spook at a butterfly. Try controlling a 900 pound animal that's going at speeds of up to fifty miles per an hour while bucking. To top it all off, you're at a show where you have to worry about others' safety! Meaning, you have to regain control within a few seconds, or you risk getting you, your horse, and bystanders hurt.

There's times when you have an extremely sensitive, picky ...more - Gail

Horseback riding is much more hard than just sitting there. If it wasn't hard why would it be a sport in the Olympics. Toes up, heels down shoulders back, head straight, squeeze with your legs, look straight, sit up tall; and that is just for sitting there. The only reason horseback riding seems easy is because the riders in pictures are so flawless they make it look easy. Have you ever tried to control a 1,500 pound animal with just your legs and arms? We'll it is harder than football, that's for sure. If I told you to jump over a 2- foot jump on a horse you would bounce off at the trot as soon as you start( unless you are experienced like me). First before you even get on a horse you have to learn all about them on the " ground." Horseback riding is the hardest sport I have ever done and definitely the most dangerous." If horseback riding was easy they would call it football."Walk, trot, canter, gallop." Even those gaits are very hard to stay on at or do properly. Don't even get me ...more

I have been doing horseback for almost 10 years and I can confidently say that it is the hardest sport I have ever participated in. I have done soccer, gymnastics (which is VERY hard), and volleyball competitively, and a few other sports recreation ally, and they haven't been even close to as hard. People who say horseback isn't a sport, that all you do is sit on a horses back and tell them to move forward are so wrong. I ride endurance, which means that I am sitting in one exact position, controlling a 900 pound animal with a mind of its own, squeezing my calves and thighs as hard as I can as we gallop at speeds of up to 30 mph for 30-50 miles. Yet everyone says that it isn't a sport, and that its not hard at all. We have to constantly be aware of every bone, every muscle, every single part of our body, and be aware of our surroundings so we don't run into a tree or a fence or into a road. So when people say horseback isn't a sport, that they have done it before and that it wasn't ...more

People who say horseback riding is not a sport are wrong. In the past year alone I have fallen off 5 times. Injuring my back again, bruising my knee bone and shoulder, and given a concussion. Every time I come home from riding I have at least 10 new bruises. I am not talking about being lead around on a pony, I am talking about doing a 2'6" jumping course without stirrups. Using only your leg muscles to hold you in place.

My partner is not another person I can communicate with. My partner is 1200 pound ANIMAL that I can't really communicate with. If they decide they don't won't to be ridden, then I have to try and survive the bucks, spins, and rears.

If you fall, once you hit the ground the danger is not over. You can be trampled, that almost happened to me. I had to quickly roll out of the way, while trying not to cry out in pain from my back injury. Also I have been kicked and beaten just standing next to a horse. You could get injured or killed just as easily ...more

People who say horse back riding isn't a sport have probably never even say on a horse, and if they did only a few minutes for a pony ride or at a dude ranch only allowed to walk and possibly trot. Equestrians have to work with a live, 1500 pound animal with a mind of their own. Is that harder than your stationary object or 5 pound ball? Is it harder to work with a teammate who wants the same thing as you and that you can talk to? Equestrians work muscles you probably don't even know you have. Or heels are down, leg is on (or off), thighs and knees and seat are holding you on, core is balancing you, shoulders are straight up, elbows are at your side, hands are giving and taking, opening and closing, eyes are already on the next obstacle. If you jump you may go around the ring in 2-point so many times you lose count. In dressage every little movement could be a que, down to the tightness of your fingers. We may not be able to run for a while but no other sport could post for hours on ...more

I have swam, and done cheer, and gymnastics, but horse back riding is so much harder than any of those. It requires every bit of you physical body to work to communicate with a 1,000+ pound animal who can kill you easily in one step. We do not sit there and do nothing, but we practice for years to learn to hold our bodies and do everything so quietly that it appears we are doing nothing at all. Going to dude ranches and riding is not the sport of horseback riding, although it does show the passenger (carried along by the good will of a dead broke horse) how hard it is. Have you ever seen someone get off a horse at the end of a dude ride, they all waddle around and feel like they will never be the same again. Real riding takes years and years of that, over and over, but at the same time, you are so much more sore. It takes your mind to tell the horse what to do, to inspire them to trust you, to be prepared for the worst case senecio without tipping the horse off. Horses skin is 20x ...more