As equestrians, we all have our favorite style of riding. And do we ever have choices!
Eventing, reining, show jumping, team penning, sidesaddle, equitation… those are just the obvious ones. Each year, more and more riding organizations are offering specialized training and competitions for unique styles of riding.
Different breeds come with their own riding styles: Icelandic horses, for example, have two unique gaits: the Tölt and the Pace (or Flying Pace). Although Icelandics are shown in more common, all-breed disciplines, learning to ride these gaits and show them competitively is a discipline all its own.
The definition of riding competitively in all-breed sports is changing, too. Even as the FEI opens up more sports to World Cup competition, inviting professional riders who are willing to push themselves to the utmost as equestrians and athletes, more adult riders are looking for riding competition that is satisfying and fun.
The new events from the American Competitive Trail Horse Association are a great example of this. Instead of competitive trail events that last 25, 50, or 100 miles, the ACTHA classes offer arena-based obstacle courses and short trail rides with natural obstacles for singles and groups to traverse at a more leisurely pace. It’s a show style that is more appealing to the growing number of adults who are first-time horse-owners, or who are returning to horses after many years spent away.
And that’s not the only way riders are looking for different ways to compete. Some equestrians just want to have fun — so polocrosse, horseball, and other equestrian games are on the uptick as well. (Link: https://equinefacilitydesign.com/equine-events/horse-sports.htm)
Now more than ever, the diverse equestrian community is coming up with a riding discipline for everyone. Whether you’re aiming for the Olympics or for a fun weekend out with friends, there is a discipline for you.
So what’s your riding discipline? Tell us about why it fits you and your horse!