Is horseback riding a true sport ?

Of course, this sport has its own group of maligners.

How is riding a horse  a sport ? *scoffs*

How did it even make it to the Olympics?

How is it ranked as one of the hardest sports in the Olympics ?

Wait…hardest sport ? Now we’re talking.

As a novice, and a beyond passionate rider, it is inevitable for me to defend this “don’t you just sit there?” sport. Before I present the facts, I grit my teeth with balls of fists every time one says that. How I wish I could allow the critic to ride bareback at 35 miles per hour, on an 1800 pound wild creature, which could do potential jumps to the height of five feet, or might even get spooked. Things could escalate.  Imagine an encounter with a 300 pound football player; imagine jabbing them in their ribs and smothering them with a saddle. Then, yank them in the direction of your choice. Now, try that with a four times bigger…savage..brute.

Equestrian sports featured on the Olympic program of the Paris Games in 1900, with jumping events, and were then withdrawn until the 1912 Games in Stockholm. Since then, this sport has been on the Olympic program with remarkable regularity.

Horseback riding, to spectators, appears smooth and easy. What they fail to acknowledge, is that professionals are supposed to make it look and seem that way. In contrast, if you place a rider with no experience, the rider would jiggle , joggle, swing, and eventually come to consensus with the idea of it being a sport. The aforesaid lines only apply to those who manage to stay on.

Moreover, horses go through rigorous training and repeated abuse. These creatures are subjected to extensive conditions to suppress their energy levels. They are tethered and made to starve until they are compelled to respect and obey the master. Horses are hang tied to create exhaustion and support lower head carriage. Some are excessively jerked and whipped. They are ridden to absolute black outs. What makes you think an animal could possibly rebel after such constant, sometimes abusive, and painstaking training. They are TAMED.  They’re not easy.

This sport demands significantly high levels of athleticism and resilience. It requires some powerful muscles to stay at par with the horse’s movements. It would not look presentable if your body kept jerking back and forth. I would also state the need for a sixth sense. You constantly have to sense the aura. Anything could go wrong.

YOU DO NOT GET TIME-OUTS !

A huge chunk of sportsmanship is to respect and accept the myriad of sports around in the arena. I could call baseball “swinging a bat”. I could call rugby “sprinting with an egg”. But, every sport has beauty and fan-following deeply embedded in it. The key is to persevere the one that nurtures a sense of belonging.