Under the saddle of horseback riding


Horseback riding is one of the sports that are the most overlooked. There are many hours that go into training, grooming, and taking care of the horses. Not many people realize that riding is actually a sport. Most just believe that it is more of an activity than a sport. But, if they were to do what these riders do each day, they would see how much of a sport it really is.
Riding is one of the oldest sports. It is said that riding was done as far back as 4500 BC. Equestrianism, the formal name of horseback riding, originated in England and has been around for a long time. The riders work very hard at what they do, and, even though they make it look effortless, it really isn’t. These riders spend hours grooming and training the horses every day so they look and act perfectly.
The dictionary definition of sport is, “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” So, if you would look at the facts, you would see that horseback riding fits right into this definition. Riding requires much skill, and it involves a lot of physical exertion. Also, as you may know, a rider works on a technique or a skill for many days, sometimes even months. Even though this sport is different from “normal” recreational sports, it still requires much physical exertion.
A student of Fargo North doesn’t believe horseback riding should be considered a sport. They would like to remain anonymous. They believe the horse is doing most of the work, “The riders are just there for the ride.”
This is actually false. Yes, a horse does a lot of the work, but the rider is the one who tells the horse what to do and where to go. They have to work on each skill and guide the horse over and over again to get it perfect. Both the horse and rider are trusting the other greatly: the horse letting the rider guide them and the rider trusting the horse with their body. If trust is lost or something goes wrong, the rider could go flying off the horse or the horse could get injured. So, no, the horse is not doing all of the work.
Fargo North sophomore student, Allison Mouche, is on the opposing side of this argument. She has been riding for 11 years. She rides with Mattia Gunkleman, who runs a family-owned horse barn.
When people say horseback riding is not a sport, she chooses to ignore them.
“I usually just ignore people when they say riding isn’t a sport, because there is no use to argue,” says Mouche.
She loves riding, and as she has been riding for a long time she knows the ups and downs of the sport. Mouche knows that riding is in fact a sport and that there is no point in arguing when you know the truth. In Mouches’ eyes, riding is second nature to her.
“Yes I believe riding is a sport, it requires the same amount of time and effort in practices leading up to a competition as a sport like basketball.” she says.
Most people don’t look at horseback riding in the same way they look at other sports. As Mouche said, riding does require a lot of effort just like basketball. Basketball is more known and acknowledged as a sport, but riding is often overlooked. Girls who ride horses are even teased for the sport they play. They get called a “horse girl,” as if it’s supposed to be a burn. People don’t realize the beauty of riding. They think it’s “weird” so they don’t give these athletes the recognition they deserve.
Most know that riding is a sport, there isn’t a big argument about it. It’s not the fact that people don’t see riding as a sport, but that they don’t see it in the same light as other sports. Horseback riding can be as tiring and challenging as the “conventional” recreational sports you are familiar with, such as hockey and volleyball.
Before you go to call a rider a horse girl, think about how much that can hurt them. They put all of their time, money, and effort into doing what they love. Maybe try to walk in their shoes and see what riding is really about. Just because something may seem odd and different than what you are familiar with, doesn’t make it any less of a sport. It’s time for horseback riders to get the recognition and love that they have been working so hard for, don’t forget about their horses too.