In my last post, I wrote about a fairly conventional and well known game, Cricket. This blog is about a sport which isn’t as typical as that, but it’s still popular and has its share of enthusiasts. I’m talking about horse-riding.
Of course, you can also call it ‘Equestrianism’, if you want to be all pedantic about it (see what I did there?). Anyway, Equestrianism refers to the skill or the sport of horse riding. It includes a wide range of activities and sports involving horse riding.
But wait a minute, you say. It seems that you’re just sitting on a horse commanding it to run around hither and tither! The horse is the one actually doing all the work! How is that a sport?!
Well, a sport has 2 aspects to it – physical and competitive. Equestrianism definitely is a sport because it has both of these things in abundance.
So, how exactly is horse riding physically straining?
I wouldn’t need to explain that to anyone who’s ever tried riding a horse, even for a short while. A beginner will quickly notice how sore his body feels after riding. For those who haven’t had the opportunity, think about this – you’re constantly fighting to maintain balance, bouncing on a galloping horse. You have to apply pressure with your legs and change your posture in order to guide it. Wouldn’t all of this require some amount of strength and endurance?
The most obvious workout during horse-riding is for your core strength. The core is commonly used to refer to the torso or the midsection of the body. The muscle groups in the core act as a stabilizer for the rest of the body, and they are used daily for the most mundane things, like bending and reaching underneath the sofa to pick up something you dropped. Trying to ride a horse well and maintaining balance keeps the core engaged.
While riding, your legs and thighs absorb the impact of the horse’s movements, thus you’re exerting your lower body muscles too. You’re constantly pinching your thighs around the horse to remain on the saddle. Also, while steering the horse, you use your arm muscles quite a bit.
Coming to the competition part of it – there are number of equestrian activities which are competitive in nature, and some of them are even part of the Olympics. To name a few, there’s horse racing, polo, dressage, endurance racing, show jumping, and so on and so forth.
The first thing to know about Equestrian sports is that there are two forms of it – English Riding, and Western Riding.
They differ mainly in the saddles used for riding, the riding style, and the activities that each style encompasses.
The saddles used in English riding are thinner and lighter, allowing for more direct contact with the horse. They were designed to allow the horse to move around efficiently. Western saddles, on the other hand, are longer and heavier, spreading the weight of the rider over a larger area of the horse’s back. They also have a deeper seat, leading to a little more stability for the rider. The saddle is meant to be secure and comfortable for long rides.
The main riding difference between both styles is that in English riding, both hands are used on the reins(rope like things you hold that are tied around the horse’s mouth) to control speed and direction, along with the other aids like the seat and legs. In Western riding however, the rider uses neck reining to control the horse’s speed and direction, which simply means that you use only one hand to hold both the reins, and rely more on the seat and weight movement to gesture the horse.
English riding has sporting events like dressage, polo, show jumping, endurance riding, and many more.
Western riding has its own set of activities, like reining, cutting, ranch horse, and so on.
As an example, dressage and reining are two similar riding activities. Both of them require the horse to perform a predesigned series of movements, which involves moving in circles and straight lines, taking turns, etc., at different speeds.
That’s all about horse riding folks. I would encourage you to read up more on it if you’re interested.