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A Guide to Choosing the Right Equestrian Sport for You

Like all sports, horseback riding can provide a great deal of fun and exercise. Within the equestrian world there is a great variety of different sports. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a weekend pleasure rider or a serious competitor, a thrill seeker or a nervous Nelly, there is something for just about everyone.

In general, equestrian sports are divided into categories. There is western riding, Olympic disciplines, endurance, horseback riding, novelty, horse racing, rodeos, team sports, and carriage driving. Of course, there are also some dark sports like jumping, trekking, and camp writing. Within these categories there are again a variety of different sports.

Western riding originated in America in the early days of the frontier; horses were the only way to herd and classify cattle. He is best known for Western court, rein, and pleasure sports. Appaloosas, Quarter Horse and Paints are the main breeds used in Western.

The Olympic disciplines involve the art of dressage, jumping and competition. These had their beginnings in military warfare as a way of training both horse and rider to become agile and adept at helping to defeat enemies on the battlefield. Over the years, a variety of breeds have been popular for these sports. Today, Warmblood is the most preferred breed.

Endurance driving is a long-distance race in controlled conditions. Arabs and Arab derivatives are the most prominent breeds used in this discipline due to their endurance. The sport of endurance racing was invented as a military test for cavalry mounts, where horses had to travel 5 days and 485 km (300 miles) carrying around 100 kg (200 lb) of weight.

The novel riding includes mounted games and races, most popular at the pony club level. Many games involve the horse and rider racing against the clock to draw a course. The best known of the novelty riding sports is probably barrel racing, which is often seen at rodeos. A variety of breeds are used for these, ponies being very popular.

Rodeo riding involves a variety of sports, including team roping, bronco riding, barrel racing, and breaking rope. In Australia, rodeos also often involve a day of drawing competition at the camp. Like western horsemanship, camp writing had its origins in early Australia, probably around 1880 to 1890, and involves cutting a cow or calf from a herd in a “camp” and then leading the beast around a course in the form of a clover leaf. The Australian common horse is the predominant breed used for this sport, although quarter horses do well as well.

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