You know it. I know it. Your trainer and even your horse know it. Riding is not a sport for the faint of heart.
It’s a constant grind of pushing yourself to new limits; a seesaw of failure and success. We’ve all had someone say the inevitable “But, don’t you just sit there?” Next time someone questions your toughness, show them these reasons why you kick some serious butt.
1. Overcoming your fears
Let’s face it, maybe as a kid you were brave, bounding over hill and dale and brush fence on a half-broke pony, but there is a good chance that as you’ve grown older, you’ve become increasingly aware of the dangers of the sport (and increasingly aware of your own mortality). Anytime you’re around horses, you know you are one fly stomp away from another broken toe, or one long spot away from saying hello to the earth with your own face. With age comes experience, and with experience comes being aware of every single thing that could go wrong at any moment. The fact that you’re still out there, doing what you do in spite of that fear makes you one tough cookie.
2. Your inability to bounce
Have you ever seen a kid take a tumble off a horse? They look like they are made of rubber. Sometimes they even bounce high enough to land back on their feet. And you can bet they’re scrambling right back up on that horse before they can even think about what happened. When you grow older, your body and your reflexes change. In short, you bounce less, and you thud more. It takes a few more minutes to gather your thoughts and your internal organs after you splat, but your ability to do so (again and again and again) means you’ve got the heart of a lion. Or possibly a rodeo clown.
3. Everything hurts
Does muscle soreness happen when you’re a kid? If it does, surely it doesn’t happen in the same magnitude as it does to adults. If kids felt half the post-ride-soreness of a middle-aged adult, you wouldn’t see so many kids gallivanting bareback or stirrup-less around the arena. When you’re an adult rider, you pay for that sitting trot lesson in two ways: with money, and with your ability to walk straight. Go get ‘em tiger.
4. Speaking of paying, when you were younger you probably didn’t truly appreciate how much that lesson, show, or new saddle pad cost.
Kids and teens don’t always understand how expensive this sport can be, but adults surely do. You might calculate the cost of new trailer tires in hours of work, or you might think of that vet call in terms of how many lattes you’ll need to skip this month. But it all adds up to make you appreciate each moment even more. You’re working your tushy off for something you are truly zealous about, and that makes you one cool cat.
5. The social aspect
We’ve all told a new friend that we ride horses, only to see the look on their face that says “Oh, great, another crazy horse lady.” You may be proud of what you do, but no one can deny there exists a social stigma against horse riders. You may even fit into the stereotypes with things like a car full of hay, showing up to work with slobber on your shirt sleeve, or a phone background of you and your gelding frolicking in a field of daisies together. Own it, sisters and brothers. You’ve got a hobby you take seriously while other adults are doing boring things like golfing, so sing it loud and proud.
6. The shame game
Speaking of embarrassing moments…there is a chance, a slight chance, that if you like horses, and you like riding, and you like both enough to be reading articles about them, you’re a tiny bit obsessed. That’s ok. I am too. You might be the same horse crazy little girl you always were, eating up whatever information you can get your hands on. This might even include, say, some children’s horse shows, or some really bad movies on Netflix. You might even have all the Saddle Club books on your Kindle.
There’s no reason to be ashamed, or to keep your accounts totally separate from your loved ones so they don’t make fun of you. (Not that I know anything about that…). It just means you have a thirst for everything equine, and you’re meeting your need however you can. You have a pastime you’re so into that you risk total social embarrassment. That’s not insanity, that’s passion!
7. The work/life/horse balance
Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have a serious job. Maybe you have both and also a really needy cat. Whatever way life is pulling you, it’s hard enough to focus on all parts of it, even without a time-consuming hobby like riding. We all know that just going to the barn becomes some sort of weird time vortex, where “just an hour” multiplies into three. Balancing everything and not ending up homeless, divorced, or just plain crazy means you have some mad skills.
8. You willingly sit on a furry toddler
Someone once asked me how smart my horse was. “Take a four-year-old toddler,” I said to that person. “Now make that four-year-old a THOUSAND pounds. And cover him in hair. That is the mental and emotional stability of my horse.”
Any given day, you strap a chunk of leather onto a giant animal and then you sit on that animal and try to convince him to go against every instinct he has to run from scary things like plastic bags. Or a jacket on a fencepost. Or possibly a large shadow. And then you ask him to do things like turn in circle, or go over sticks instead of around them. Maybe you ask him to face off against a cow, even though there’s really no reason in the world he shouldn’t fling you off his back and run for the safety of the hills.
The fact that you do this out of choice, that is the ultimate badassery right there. So the next time you feel down because you’re not cool, or you’re not adventurous, or you’re not something you think you should be, just remember. For a lot of different reasons, every day that you choose horses, you are a total badass.
About the Author
When Aubrey Moore isn’t riding her horse Flynn or doing near-constant maintenance on her truck, she can be found with a glass of wine in hand, chatting happily with her cat Frankie.