Are you ready to think outside the box? Whether you’re a competitive dressage rider or casual horse-lover, you may not have ever considered alternative riding sports as something you’d enjoy, but shouldn’t be too quick to discount the idea. Equestrian sports are good for physical fitness as well as encouraging a feeling of mental well-being. There is a such a wide variety of riding activities that anyone who is familiar with horses and their care will be able to find something that suits them. Here are some of the equestrian sports that are available if you’re interested in enjoying some more active time with your horse.
This can include driving a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh or even long-lining from the ground, and can be done for pleasure or show. It’s a great option for riders with injuries that prevent them from spending long hours in the saddle. Specialty training equipment and tack can be found in a variety of online outlets.
Mounted orienteering is a sport in which competitors use a map and compass to find their way to checkpoints, across rough terrain, all while riding a horse. The goal is to have the lowest elapsed time.While mounted orienteering requires the additional skills of being able to use a map and compass, it is generally considered challenging, but not difficult.
Competitive or Casual Trail Riding
As the name implies, trail riding involves horseback riding on trails, bridle paths, and forest paths. A trail ride can last any length of time, from hours to days. Trail riding can be done informally, whether individually or with a small group, or it can involve professional guides. In competitive trail riding, horses are judged on pace, fitness, performance and manners, and a strong horse/rider relationship is key to success.
Polo is different in that it is a team sport. In polo, players on horseback attempt to score goals on an opposing team. There are four riders per team, and they use wooden mallets to drive the ball, usually white wood or plastic, into the opposing team’s goal. Unlike the majority of equestrian field sports, polo requires more training for the horse and player, though any breed of horse can be trained to play the game. Polo also has specific dress requirements. Pampeano polo equipment is an example of the attire expected for a polo player.
Agility is an un-mounted, competitive sport where the horse and handler work their way through a timed obstacle course. Because it doesn’t require under saddle training, it’s ideal for any age or breed, and is great for increasing confidence in young or timid horses. It’s a great workout for the handler too!
There are many benefits you can gain from expanding your range of horseback riding activities:
● Improved balance and coordination
● Strengthen muscles
● Improved circulation
● Burns calories
Mental and Emotional
● Enhanced problem-solving skills
● Provides companionship
● Relaxation and stress relief
Horse ownership should be a satisfying and joyful experience. Equestrian sports can provide another level of engagement and fun for you to enjoy with your beloved partner.
Have you tried an alternative equestrian sport?
A dressage rider I know started doing mounted archery for a change of pace for her and her horse!