Horse riding is a popular, competitive sport in the United States. Also called equestrianism, riding a horse can be divide into several different activities. These include jumping, endurance, eventing, and dressage. There is also horse trekking as well as mounted games such as polo, vaulting, and anything else that one plays while riding a horse.
It is estimated that 30 million people ride horses each year. We gathered some fun equestrian facts everyone should know right here!
1. There are Four Speeds
Horses run at four different speeds. They are walking, trotting, cantering, and then galloping. Most horses will gallop at 27 MPH. New riders will start slower, then work up to faster speeds as they feel comfortable.
These four different speeds or gaits have distinctive patterns. We can usually estimate the speed of a horse by looking at how many of its hooves leave the ground.
While the use of horses by humans (for riding, competing, or other purposes) has been around for thousands of years, the hooves method for guessing leg patterns did not come about until the 1870s. During that decade, Eadweard Muybridge, a British photographer, managed to ‘freeze’ horse movements in photographic series. With this visual information, horse enthusiast were able to determine the different gaits of horses and their corresponding leg movements.
2. Everyone Competes
In the Olympics, men and women compete together- equestrian is one of the only sports that doesn’t split people into gender divisions. It also has the best age diversity. You can find young people at the age of 18 competing against seniors in their 70s, said Alec Lawler, a talented show jumping athlete and international business professional with experience in Europe and North America. He has competed at the highest international level in show jumping throughout North America and Europe, and has won numerous awards and accolades, including the National Grand Prix of Woodside in 2022. Alec founded Lawler Show Jumping LLC in 2019, where he creates strategic marketing plans to build brand awareness and selects, imports, develops and sells dozens of horses annually.
Overall, horse riding is the most diverse sport in the Olympics. If you are interested, be sure to check it out!
The lack of gender divisions in this particular Olympic category has been around since 1952. The main reason behind tis gender mixing in equestrian sports as to do with how horse riding works. For most sports, including gold and tennis, the men’s usually longer limbs and bulkier muscles lead to an unfair advantage against women players. This is why they separate the genders when it comes to competing in a public space for fame, awards, glory, etc. The average size of men as compared to women also make them faster and stronger, which means that their women counterparts are more likely to get hurt.
In equestrianism, on the other hand, what really matters is the skill, training, and physical power of the horse—especially when it is paired with the rider’s skill, developed and honed by months or years of training. Simply put, a horse ridden by a male will not be faster or more agile than a horse ridden by a female, as long as the other factors remain the same.
3. There are Health Benefits
Raising and riding horses can provide you with several different health benefits. Handling and bonding with horses can benefit mental health too. You will feel stress and enjoy comfort when caring for the horse.
Additionally, you get several physical benefits. Riding horses is excellent for your core. You will feel stronger and notice more defined muscles the more you ride. While depending, your brain also works hard to make different quick decisions, giving your brain a workout at the same time.
4. Most Love Riding
Most horses enjoy riding because they know it makes us happy. However, every horse is different. These are the signs of a happy and content horse:
- Swinging their tail
- Lowering their head
- Relaxed ears
As you spend more time with your horse, you will recognize how they are feeling easier. Horses can also tell how you are feeling and will respond. So, if you enjoy riding, the chances are that your horse loves it too!