10 Different Types of Horse Sports and Competitions
Contrary to what people may think, Horse Turf Racing is not the only type of sport or competition that involves horses. Horses have been one of the single most productive and useful animals in human history. From carrying our ancestors to battle or transporting them to and from work to helping farmers herd cattle and sheep, horses have done it all.
Today, horses are used in a wide range of sporting events and competitions all over the world, with the most popular and familiar code being horse racing. People flock to major racing events from all over to witness star-studded horses strut their stuff, but there are other sports that they’re involved in, too. Here’s a list of 10 different kinds of them.
These events consist of many obstacles within a course that the rider and the horse are required to jump over within a prescribed time limit. It’s all about speed as well as precision and timing.
Often described as the ballet of the horsing world, dressage requires an enormous amount of skill and balance for both the rider and the horse. The rider/horse duo performs a set of rhythmic movements with the goal being to perform them with ease, grace, and calm.
Judges will look at the horse’s manner and behavior while performing these maneuvers, as well as its ability to do so in an effortless looking way. Dressage is an Olympic sport, by the way!
This sporting code provides athletes with physical disabilities the opportunity to compete against other riders on an even playing field. It’s a wonderfully inclusive sport that gives riders with disabilities the chances they may not get in other team sports.
Para-dressage and driving are the two main sectors of competitions, and they’re included in the Paralympics.
Polo is an exhilarating sport that nearly equals horse racing for entertainment. It consists of two pro teams of four players each, riding on horseback with wooden mallets in hand. Their objective is to use their wooden mallets to hit a ball through a set of goal posts. It’s fun to watch as it combines the gameplay of football with the excitement of hockey and water polo.
The completely elegant and regal competition of showing off a horse’s incredible obedience and intelligence is a masterclass to witness. Rider and horse strut around the arena, exuding style and charisma and showcasing their loving human/animal bond.
Vaulting is essentially horse gymnastics. The rider and the horse perform a routine that showcases their balance, flexibility, and consistency throughout. Horses need to be stable and smooth along their backs so riders can perform their various movements along the whole course of their back.
Judges generally look for the rider’s ability to perform their routine across the full length of the horse’s back, as well as their capabilities of changing their facing direction on their horse’s back. This form of competition dates back to Ancient Rome but has definitely seen a rise in competition and skill since then.
This one is for all Western lovers. The sport of reigning is the showcase of all the various movements and techniques that typical ranch horses will use when working in the field. It’s the ultimate form of horsemanship, as horse and rider work together to create a stylish and intricate routine that will mesmerize anybody who witnesses it.
An endurance race in the equine world is the horse version of an ultramarathon. Horses and riders will traverse the most compelling and challenging landscapes in a bid to conquer them first over a long distance. These events put the rider and the horse’s mental and physical toughness to the test and can last multiple days at a time.
These events are essentially prolonged and more complex versions of Show Jumping events. The greatest difference between the two is that cross-country jumping challengers have to navigate different terrains and surfaces, as well as various obstacles and surroundings throughout their course.
This takes physical and mental agility and endurance as horse and rider clear streams, hills, fences, and ditches, among other things.
The triathlon of the equestrian sporting world, eventing is a combination of cross-country jumping, show jumping, and dressage and is one of the few Olympic sports where men and women compete equally. It’s the ultimate test of the horse and riders’ complete capabilities where they can showcase their poise, courage, balance, and strength in each facet of the competition.
If you’re surprised at how many sports involve horses, you’re not alone. There are, in fact, many more sporting events and competitions that involve horses. Many of them are niche sports, but some of them are well-liked, like rodeo favorites, barrel racing, and steer wrestling, as well as combined driving and team roping.
If you’re not sure which horse sport to follow, you can be sure you’ll have many options to choose from.