As a species human beings enjoy competition in all its forms whether it be a simple kick around in the park or taking part in a major event, either as part of a team or as an individual. Equestrian Sports fulfil this desire to compete ion every level, either as part of a team or as individual. You can represent yourself, your club or at the very highest level, your Country.
Riding demonstrate the harmony between Rider and Horse in a way that nothing else does. Men and women can both take part on level playing field which is rare in any sporting event. The speed and dexterity with which they and their mounts flash around the course can be quite astounding to a novice. This is the result of many months of training and developing the relationship between the pairing. Before this can be developed you first have to choose the horse you want to ride.
The size of the horse has to be one of the first criteria – what good is it to have a horse that can run like the wind and jump a mile if your feet dangle on the floor or you are too heavy for him. Next comes temperament, you need a horse that you can work with, they have personalities just like people and sometimes personalities clash. If you find that you rub each other up the wrong way it will show in the competition and you will always be fighting to control your mount. That can be disastrous in Dressage for example, where you need to work as one. The precise movements are almost a ballet and any disharmony would be like the orchestra playing out of tune.
In any Equestrian Sport the condition of the horse plays a major part, he needs to be healthy and happy, well fed, watered and groomed so that he is comfortable and ready for the excitement of the competition – after all you want to win a Rosette don’t you?
There are many competitions in the world of Equestrian Sports but there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest – the Burleigh Horse Trials in the UK where the best three day eventers compete. The National Horse Show in America covers many fields of equestrian endeavour and is held in Palm Beach under the auspices of the National Show Horse Association of America who focus the competitions on good horsemanship.
One of the most popular events in the calendar is the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia, London, which is held in December each year. A huge party atmosphere prevails throughout the show which specializes in Show Jumping but with lots of other competitions thrown in as well. I have many happy memories of competing there, it was like the beginning of Christmas. The ultimate competition is of course, the Olympic Games where Equestrian Sports are one of the oldest categories.
Any competitive rider will love taking part in their chosen branch of Equestrian Sport and so will their horse providing an exciting show for spectators, the buzz is tremendous and if you win….