Historians say that horses have been around for nearly one hundred thousand years, but they were not used for transportation and riding purposes until six thousand years ago. The sport equestrian relates to riding horses in various events and taking care of the horses’ diet and fitness. In 1900 it was added to the second annual Olympics. It was later removed, but restored in 1912. As of now the Olympic equestrian events include dressage, jumping and eventing. There are also many other unique events in equestrian, which include trick riding, vaulting, horseball and many more.
At some point most people have wondered what it would be like to do horseback riding. They may think, “What could be better than spending hours with an animal? Surely it’s the easiest sport to make it into the Olympics.”
Cedar Cliff’s own, sophomore Faith Herr, is one of many that yearned to try equestrian. When she was just four years old, she rode her first pony at a local barn. Herr was hooked; her mom soon after signed her up for lessons. This was just the beginning of the ride to her destiny. It is a journey that includes joy, happiness, and childlike fantasy, but like all riders she’s experienced the not so glamorous side of the sport.
One of the more obvious downsides to equestrian is the cost and time commitment. Herr said, “On average we spend about $1700 a month on my horses board and lessons.” She noted that this can be a problem for less fortunate riders, and it is often times why people do not try horseback riding in the first place.
Along with the cost, the hours are also much longer than most people would expect. Herr is required to train her horse six days a week for about three to four hours a day, depending on how many horses she rides. That does not include competitions that can lead to a fifteen to sixteen hour day!
Not only is equestrian expensive and requires hours of work, but it is also said to be one of the hardest sports in the world. Herr can certainly agree that equestrian is difficult. She said, “Horse riding is often pegged as the horse doing all of the work, but people rarely see the hard work, dedication, and strength required in the sport.”
Horse riding can also be dangerous, which Herr herself can vouch for. When she was just twelve, a 1200 lb horse flipped over onto her, crushing her pelvis and causing internal bleeding. Herr wishes people would understand just how dangerous the sport can be saying, “I cannot stress enough that we don’t just sit on a horse; it is a very dangerous and difficult sport.”
Although there are many hardships In equestrian, for Herr the positives certainly outshine the negatives. Herr said, “Competitions and practices can be incredibly stressful and busy! You are constantly moving around, taking care of your horse, and learning your courses, but it is all worth it in the end.”
Herr finds the most joy in eventing, which is like an “equestrian triathlon” where a single horse and rider compete in the areas of dressage, show jumping and cross country. This requires agility, strength and a lot of training, but that is why Herr likes it so much.
Herr said she is hoping to make it to state championships in the spring and wants to place well. She is also interested in doing equestrian in college.
In achieving these goals Herr is aware that she will have to work harder than she ever has before, but she says “there is nothing I would rather do than pursue what I love:, equestrian.”
Photos from Public Domain Images: horse-jumping-1336043575efD.jpg and photography-person-riding-brown-horse-117852909.jpg