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Should Competitive Horseback Riding Be More Widely Considered A Sport?

1677 words - 7 pages

Should Competitive Horseback Riding be More Widely Considered a Sport?

Imagine you are riding a half-ton horse in the jump off at the World Equestrian Games. The clock is counting down with ten seconds to go. You have worked your entire life for this one moment. There are zero penalties with only one jump left. As you take off over the six-foot fence, you let the horse do his job. He clears the fence with room to spare and the two of you are announced the world champions of 2012. Who is to say that this moment is different than competing in any other sport? By definition, a sport is an activity involving physical effort and skill where one competes against others. Competitive ...view middle of the document...

Most begin playing at a young age while they dream of one day playing for the NFL or NBA on a winning team. Dedication is just one factor in making a sports athlete but there cannot be dedication without strenuous work.
There is a defined line between pleasure riding and competing. Pleasure riding is just what is seems: spending time with horses during free time to have a fun “get-away” from a busy life style. Competition horseback riding is the opposite: it is a lifestyle. This way of life is difficult and repetitive but exciting. When the hard work pays off, it makes for a sweet victory. Full-time competitors are rarely lounging on the sofa watching reruns of their favorite TV show. They are at the barn everyday from the wee hours of the morning to late at night. A typical day includes feeding the horses, riding five of more hours training and sometimes teaching students. Each day is about the same routine until there is a competition. This is where the real strenuous work comes in effect. Depending on the location of the show, one will spend numerous hours driving to and from the show facility. The day of the show competitors wake up around 5:00am to feed and water the horses, ready the equipment, groom the horses, and shake of the “show nerves” before it is time to ride. Once in the saddle, there is little time to warm up the horses before the scheduled competition time. Most horses are ”hot” or extremely excited during the competition because they are in a new place. How would you like to try to calm down a 1200-pound beast without using words? That usually does not work very well. Competing for horseback riders is the equivalent to traveling to an away game for a sports team. There is a new environment and the hard work and training is showed off in the game.
In any sport, competing is what all the work and dedication is for. In horseback riding events, most riders compete as individuals. The majority of the public does not realize is that it is always a team sport: the rider and the horse. The horse is the vital part in competing because the horse must want to win as much as the rider. In some of the lower level competitions, one does not compete for a world title or trophy but a ribbon and “pat on the back”. I competed in the lower levels of Dressage at many shows around the state. Dressage is like the highest level in ballet. It is all about timing and precision. In this sport, you compete for a score and sometimes an award. For many years, I showed horses that were new to the showing atmosphere. I rarely received a ribbon and placed on the scoreboard, but I went home proud with a great feeling of accomplishment. Many people asked me why I showed horses that do not win and my response was always the same, “I show for the joy of training horses, not for the blue ribbon.” If this does not meet the qualities of a sport, then what does? I have always competed against many riders that I knew well and...

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