Do you have any idea of the scope of equine sporting events? Wikipedia calls the compilation of horse-related sporting events, “equestrianism”. Horse racing and chariot racing have been around in one form or another for centuries. The excitement created by racing these swift beasts very early lead to the excitement of wagering on which horses were the fastest.
Among the many classes of horse racing are thoroughbred (usually completing a mile or more of an oval), American quarter horse (a fraction of the full oval—a quarter mile), steeplechase (over barriers), horse-specific limited racing (Arabian, Appaloosas, Paints, Akeral-Teke, etc.), Endurance Racing, and Ride and Tie. Endurance racing can go from several miles to an event several days long. Ride and Tie races are composed of two riders and one horse with the riders alternating between running and riding. All of these competitions have specific rules governing the participants, horses, and journeys.
Early in our marriage my wife and I considered getting involved in Ride and Tie and Endurance races, but with a family on the way other priorities commanded our attention. I still dream of competing—but then, I’m a maniac.
Sulky racing events have a horse pulling a harnessed squat buggy or “sulky” and a racer. International and Olympic disciplines use a variety of highly trained and intricate tests or movements to rate the performance of the rider and the horse. The precise following of these prescribed, sequential, and coordinated movements is called “dressage”.
And did you know there are two forms of jumping? One is a confined, timed event called “show jumping”, and the other is “eventing,” which has several variations combining dressage, athletic show jumping, and cross-country jumping. Cross-country is an even riskier combination of endurance riding with the horse and rider having to clear fixed obstacles, such as masonry walls, logs, banks, and water barriers.
And let’s not forget the Rodeo (often not included in references to “equestrianism”). Rodeo is truly an American sport, begun in the 1700’s with a Spanish influence and refined over the years with the American ranchers’ involvement. Today both men and woman compete in rodeos. It has become a huge audience draw across the country and incorporates many disciplines, all using a horse.
Barrel racing, calf roping, steer-riding, bronco riding (saddle and bareback), team steer roping, steer wrestling, breakaway roping, and even chuck wagon racing are the most often seen events at a rodeo. Rodeos do have other events based upon local tradition. The rodeo circuit, or series of rodeos, propels competitors to events around the country where large sums of money can be won, but it is not as lucrative as many other equine sports).
Enjoy our Equine Art here on SAI.