Riding is different than most other sports because if a person is taught the correct basics they can ride for a lifetime. I’ve known people who continue to ride in their 70s, and 80s and even a few who have continued to ride in the 90s. That’s something that you’re not apt to see happen with soccer or tennis or even golf. Riding is not limited to the young.
An all-weather activity
The development of indoor arenas, all weather footing, water proof tack and insulated equestrian apparel clothes has made riding a year round activity.
For all kinds of people
Contrary to the opinion of some instructors, our sport is not only for the physically gifted, the thin, or the athletic person either. It is a sport that has the ability to add to the quality of life to every body type, lifestyle and age group. Horses provide opportunity for exercise, fresh air, individual activity, team activity, companionship, competition, humility, grace and accomplishment to all who participate. Riding is a universal sport.
If more of our youth learned to care for a horse and ride it correctly, we’d see fewer kids hanging out at the malls. If more adults rode with the confidence that results from good basic instruction, we’d see stress levels drop and health improve. Winston Churchill stated, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
A good instructor
A good instructor has a thorough understanding of the basics of good horsemanship. He pays attention to detail and has a strong desire to see his student improve. The good instructor has the patience to explain the same principal over again, perhaps in a new way. She helps her student develop goals and runs the race of endurance to help attain them.
Good basic skills
Our goals and purpose may change over time but the need for a good basic foundation doesn’t. Skills like a secure seat, steady legs, and sympathetic hands never go out of style. The instinct that causes a rider to automatically use the correct leg in the correct spot at just the right moment isn’t lost because a person switches from competition to riding for pure enjoyment. Basic skills, once they are imbedded in your body’s memory bank remain, even if a rider takes a break of a few years.
Developing excellent basic skills does not require that a student compete, although many people like to try their hand at a horse trials or schooling show. But in a perfect world competition is a test of the rider’s progress and not the end goal. If competition becomes our end goal and winning becomes our only desire, then we resort to short cuts, gimmicks, and tricks. In the end we are riding only for a prize and not the love of the sport. In the end we rob ourselves of the pleasure of riding for riding’s sake, and of enjoying riding for a lifetime.
May you enjoy every minute that you spend on the back of a horse.
The Riding Instructor