Is horseback riding a sport?
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Horseback Riding Is A Sport, And If You Don't Agree, Bite Me

We deserve the label of athletes just as much as anybody else.

Horseback Riding Is A Sport, And If You Don't Agree, Bite Me
Ashley Dickerson

The definition of sport is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment". Everything about horseback riding falls under this category.

So why are we still arguing whether or not horseback riding is a sport?

Let's break this definition down.

Physical Exertion.

A lot of times I hear, "It's not a sport because the horse is doing all the work". Isn't it funny how the only people that say this are the ones who have never ridden a horse competitively and have absolutely no idea what it takes? Yes, the horse is getting a good amount of exercise, but so is the rider. Unless you have an absolutely perfect horse, which does happen, you can't just hop on and have a horse that just knows exactly what you want it to do and when. The rider must tell the horse where to go, which way to bend, when to jump, when to slow down/speed up, etc. Everything the horse does is determined by the rider. And yes, this is EXHAUSTING. I come out of a course sweating profusely and needing my inhaler because of the work I have to consistently put in throughout.


"Leg, leg, squeeze, squeeze".

"Right rein, left leg, left rein, right leg, both reins, and both legs".

"Hold down the line, hold, hold, let go and jump".

"Sit back and whoa".

These are just a few of the things running through my head all during the course of a five-minute jumping course. And you have to ask exactly right at the exact right time so the horse can understand and act so it will all go smoothly. It's a lot.

Have you ever seen a horse going strongly to a jump and then suddenly ducks out and avoids the jump? That's an example of what happens when you stop commanding the horse and just sit there. If a horse isn't confident what to do, they won't do anything. And that is when horseback riding can start to get dangerous.

And....have you ever seen a horseback riders legs? They are some of the most muscular and defined legs on any athletes. Your legs are what gets this thousand-pound animal to move under you. But your arms also get a workout holding horseback and supporting them through the reins. The control it takes to use rein, leg, and seat all at the same time to control your horse requires a pretty large degree of athleticism and core.

Individual or Team.

Yep, horseback riding involves a team. A team of me and my thousand-pound partner that need to work together. My partner can't call out to me the way your soccer or football team can. I need to know certain cues and how to act on them to keep myself and my horse safe. Working on a team with members that don't even speak the same language is so much harder.

Competing against another for entertainment.

I may be biased, but I think horseback riding competitions are some of the most intense of sports to watch. Whether it's show jumping or cross country, racing against a clock, jumping jumps bigger than I am, yeah I'd say that's entertainment. Football, soccer, and all those other basic sports compete only against one other team. I compete against roughly five other teams of riders and horses. And yes, the judge does judge my horse and the way it moves. But that's NOT the whole competition. Our teamwork is also being judged. My way of communication is being judged. My form is being judged. Everything about both of us is always being judged. And the ribbons are very satisfying as well.

If you still don't believe horseback riding is a sport, I recommend you go out to a barn and tack up any horse, get on it, and see what you can achieve. I'm sure by the end of thirty minutes, you'll be singing a very different tune.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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