[Opinion] Horseback riding should be recognized as a sport


Horse rider Samantha Goldblum leaps over obstacle on her horse. Photo courtesy of Samantha Goldblum

Samantha Goldblum

Horse rider Samantha Goldblum leaps over obstacle on her horse. Photo courtesy of Samantha Goldblum

When people think of sports, they tend to think of typical sports such as softball, flag football or basketball. Being told by so many people that the sport they have dedicated their life is not a sport can be extremely aggravating.

“All you do is sit on the horse”, “the horse does all the work”, and “that’s so cruel” are just some of the common phrases that horseback riders hear on a day to day basis. Many people who say these things are ignorantly speaking about what they think involves no work.

Horseback riding is just like any other sport that involves endurance, equipment, teamwork and agility. Although most sports involve a ball, in this sport, the ball has a mind of its own and weighs thousands of pounds. 

Of course, all sports come with risks, but no other sport requires the player to work with an animal that could kill you in one second. 

In other sports, if there is a fall, it is not from very high up, whereas in horseback riding,the fall can potentially be five feet or more. Teamwork is involved between the horse and the rider, but instead of the communication as words, the communication is through body language, such as a squeeze signifying go and a tug on the reins signifying to slow down. 

When people think about the Olympics, they think about international sporting events in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in various different competitions. Horseback riding is just one of the sports featured in this event. 

This sport is not only physically challenging, requiring muscle strength, balance, flexibility, agility and overall body awareness, but it is mentally challenging as well. Skill, strategy, reasoning, memory and confidence are all important to horseback riding that are used in a split second. 

The actual riding of horses is not all there is to the sport. Carrying hay bales, filling water buckets, grooming the horse, cleaning the barn and stalls are just a few of the tasks on an equestrian’s ‘to-do’ list. There are many elements to the sport that are unseen by people.