Horseback riding is more than just a hobby or a sport, it’s a skill, an art, that can be learned with hard work and dedication. It takes a lot of learning and practice to successfully mount and maneuver a horse. Fortunately, whether you want to do it for leisure or competitive endeavors, local horsemanship classes can further develop your skills or get you started. But why should you even consider riding a horse?
This is probably the best and simplest reason why you should be riding a horse: it’s fun. Imagine yourself trotting down a trail, enjoying the breeze, and being in touch with nature. You can also be galloping in an open farm, jumping over obstacles, and leading the horse in the direction you want. Just attending horsemanship classes can be a lot of fun.
You wouldn’t have to do it alone, either. If you prefer to go out with friends, you can go on horse packing adventures where you can enjoy nature and scenic spots while atop your own horses, giving you a different, if not better, perspective. If you have kids, you can share your interest in riding horses and take horsemanship classes with them, and even attend family fun riding events together.
Horse riding can be good for your well-being too. Riding through fresh air and being close to nature can help lower your stress and anxiety levels. Horses are sensitive social animals. They can read the body language and emotional cues of its pack—as its rider that includes you. That means you'll need to learn to manage your emotions when horse riding. If you’re frightened, the horse can sense and mirror that emotion, which won't bode well for your horse riding trip.
You might know people who started taking horse riding lessons at a young age, but the fun of horse riding isn’t just for kids. Even senior citizens can ride horses. Take for instance the first and so far only equestrian rider in the US Olympic Hall of Fame, John Michael Plumb.
Plumb learned to ride a horse when he was a kid, first competed when he was 19, and last competed in the Olympics when he was 52. Now, in his sixties, Plumb continues to ride horses and train riders in his farm. Horse riding knows no age. If you missed your chance to learn how to ride a horse when you were a kid, don’t despair. You can start taking horsemanship classes now and continue to ride horses even when you get older.
You don’t necessarily have to be a J Michael Plumb. Just as it is timeless, horse riding also gives you limitless possibilities. You can take it to a professional level and take your horse from show to show earning awards. You can go wild on a farm with working horses. You can be a blogger writing about all things equestrian. You can make it a hobby and ride horses on the weekends. You can raise horses and offer riding activities for other people and make a living out of it. You can choose whatever lifestyle involving your equine friends you prefer.
Of course, even if you don’t take it as a lifetime career, there are many benefits to gain from horse riding. Taking horse riding lessons is a form of exercise. It improves posture, balance, and body coordination. The activities apart from horse riding itself (like grooming the horses and cleaning the stalls) can serve as cardio-vascular exercises. Also, the change in view when atop the horses gives you a heightened perspective developing your spatial awareness. In kids, this heightened perspective can help them see the world differently and promote learning and discovery.
For most people, just the simple fact that horse riding is fun would be enough to convince them. But beyond the emotional benefits and physical development, taking horsemanship classes to hone your skills helps you develop self-esteem. The ability to take control and give commands to an animal as large as a horse is no easy task and once you are able to do it, it gives your confidence a boost.
You don’t even have to wait until you master horseback riding. As soon as you’ve completed your first few horse riding lessons, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. If you're competitive, you can take your horse riding a step further and participate in tournaments like:
- Rodeos (Local and National)
- Barrel Racing (For Women)
- Horse Polo
- Show Jumping
Furthermore, what you can learn in horsemanship classes are skills that can shape your character. Horsemanship isn’t just about riding a horse. It involves knowing how to care for your equine friend and communicate with it. It takes responsibility, empathy, and patience among other qualities for a rider to establish a sound relationship with a horse.
You’ll need to learn how to trust your trainer and your horse. More importantly, you need to work on how to gain the trust of your horse. It is worth noting that trust, teamwork, and all the other skills you will learn when you start to ride a horse are transferable traits that can help you excel in fields other than horse riding.
Learn How to Ride a Horse
You can learn how to ride a horse for competition or you can ride horses simply to enjoy a ride on a local trail and de-stress. No matter what your motivation is, horsemanship is an ideal activity for both the young and young at heart looking for a fun, challenging, and rewarding pursuit.