What is Horseback Riding?

Kaylee Martin, Reporter

The pathway down to the fields at Flying Change PHP in Stewartstown.
Horseback riding is one of many activities that anyone can partake in. It burns calories, builds muscles, and requires strength, balance and body awareness. It can be an aerobic exercise and requires flexibility. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Freshman Kaylee Martin jumping over a vertical in her lesson.
Once you’ve mastered the basic skills of horseback riding, you have many opportunities to learn the disciplines in riding such as dressage, eventing, hunt seat, hunters, and jumpers. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Martin leaping over a flower jump on an off the track thoroughbred named Ethan.
One could spend a lifetime perfecting riding skills and still not attain perfection. So, while just sitting on a horse may appear easy, learning to ride well is just as difficult as learning to do any other sport well. “I think the best part is competing, just because it’s so rewarding to see that you and your equine partner have come far enough together, and it’s a wonderful feeling to do your dressage test and come out feeling successful,” said freshman Josephine Sedgely. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Martin cooling off her horse with a light ride around the arena.
Horseback riding requires your complete focus – if your mind wanders, then you’ll soon find that your horse is wandering about, too. Sometimes in riding, you have to learn to sit back, take a breath, and try things over again. Learning to be patient can be therapeutic and this skill will benefit you in other areas, too. “It is amazing what you can accomplish when working with horses, and how far both a person and a horse can come with that partnership,” said Freshman Kaitlyn O’Byrne. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Martin preparing to hop on the thoroughbred to take a ride outside.
It also helps people out when working under pressure. Horses are living and breathing creatures that possess their own free will. Because of this, unexpected things are bound to happen. Working with horses teaches you how to think on your feet and quickly and calmly take care of unexpected situations. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Martin soaring over another vertical in the line of jumps.
Horseback riding can be a riskier sport than others. And, there’s an incorrect perception that you’re just sitting and letting the horse do all of the work. Few non-riders understand the whole-body and mental effort required to ride really well, to keep the horse balanced and in control. Not only do you have to have control of your own body, but that of the horse’s too. Good riders take years to develop. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

One of the barn cats on the roof of one of the many stables.
These days, horses and horseback riding can lead you far and wide and connect you to people from all over. Make new friends, travel to distant locations, and enjoy the most beautiful spaces on earth simply because you follow horses to new and unknown places. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Another perspective of tack on a horse, getting ready to ride.
Riding a horse also has many health benefits that come along as well. It develops core strength, improves coordination, encourages trust, exercises the mind, increases muscle tone and strength, and develops problem-solving skills. Photograph by Kaylee Martin

Rhena, one of the many lesson horses, is ready to start the lesson.
Horseback riding is relaxing. In fact, therapeutic riding has shown to reduce muscle spasticity as tight muscles are stretched due to the natural motion of the horse. “I have felt connected to horses for all of my life, and they are a huge part of my life. They are such amazing creatures,” said
O’Byrne. Photograph by Kaylee Martin