By Kelsey McMahan
"It's just counting strides, finding your distance, swapping leads, and looking good doing it. Relax, what could be easier?" -Anonymous So many times, equestrians around the world, in every industry are told this one thing: "Riding horses is not a sport because all you do is sit there and the horse does all the work." We all know that this is not true. Riding and showing horses is not only a sport that works towards finesse, but an art.
Do you get tired of people telling you that the horse does all the work, or that you just sit there? Trust me, I know the feeling of being told that and it does not feel that great. Every time that happens I want to throw them onto a horse and see what they can do with a pattern or see how they can do under pressure in the show ring! Most of the time, the people telling you these things do not understand what goes on behind the scenes. If they watch professionals, they only see someone "sitting there" with the horse doing all of the amazing things they were trained to do or went on a trail ride on horses that are trained to be slow and steady so that their cargo does not lose their balance and fall off. To many, that is what riding is, but it is a false example of what equestrians really do. They do not understand how much passion, hard work, and long hours we put in to our horses and skills. Equestrians at the Olympics may look like they just sit there, but a true horseman must look like they are not doing anything to be amazing at that level. The judges must not see the secret cues that are making the horse switch leads every stride or jog in place. All of these horses are trained to a level that all of us can only dream of getting our horses to. Showing Arabians is what most of us love to do. Whether you are just reading this as a person who loves Arabians but does not own one, or you do own and show Arabians, we all have something in common: passion. All of us who show are blessed to be able to do what we do, no matter what level we are at! As I show at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, I always go around with my purebred and allow the spectators to truly experience the Arabian horse up close and personal. I let them know how much work it takes to get to that level and how much it means that they take the time to come out and watch all of us, because it is everything that we work for all year. This provides a deeper understanding of what we do. I used to be put down when someone told me that all I did was sit there. I do not want everyone who partakes in our sport to feel like I did. Look them in the eye and tell them that riding is not a sport that deals with a ball or a race against time, but it does teach you how to communicate with a special type of team... a team that does not necessarily speak the same language, but can communicate through sound, touches, and squeezes. Why don't they try that sometime?
About the Author Kelsey McMahan, Region 7 Director