Seems like a simple question…“Why do I love to ride”, but as I recently found out, everyone has a very unique and individual answer.
On somewhat of a whim, I decided to ask a group of my friends, colleagues, barn mates and fellow competitors the above question, and I honestly expected that most of them would echo the same sentiments…I was wrong. Whether it is for the simple love of horses or maintaining an active lifestyle, feeding the flames of competition or relaxation, it seems that everyone has something profound to say.
Kirstin Finberg of Arroyo Grande, CA
“I suppose I love to ride because of the partnership. It’s unlike any other relationship I have. I depend on my horse to take care of me when I’m riding, and yet at the same time she depends on me for guidance.”
An eloquent answer, and one that I think many of us can understand. The relationships that we forge with our horses are indeed unlike any other relationship that we will ever have. It’s quite humbling to have a 1000 pound animal looking to you for guidance, and just as humbling to realize that we also have to relinquish some of our own “control” and trust in something much larger than ourselves.
Rhea Rogers of Shell Beach, CA
“Riding is my therapy. When I’m out at the barn with my horse, I feel at peace; it clears away my anxiety/stress, and it honestly heals my spirit.”
There is a certain simple beauty in the quiet time out at the barn. Those moments when you are with your horse and everything else just fades away are truly priceless. So many of us lead exceptionally stressful and fast paced lives, but when we are with our horses, we have to be in the moment, and that forces us to decompress and focus at the same time.
“I trail ride, and I can get to places on my horse that I could never get to any other way. I think that’s pretty amazing and pretty cool.”
The horse is considered the one animal that has had the greatest impact on modern civilization…this was because the horse could carry us to places we could otherwise not go. The horse expanded our horizons and allowed us to do things that we would have never been able to do. It seems as though Dave still understands and experiences this with his horse!
Nora Williams of San Luis Obispo, CA
“I love to ride because it is an expression of unity between me and another animal.”
Another simple, and yet deep answer. When we are in tune with our horses, whether that be in the arena, out on the trail, working in the round pen, or simply doing chores around the barn, we are unifying ourselves with another entity. This unity creates a bond that is extremely fulfilling, and even when it comes to our family, friends, etc., it is hard to replicate.
Joyce Pexton of San Luis Obispo, CA
“I ride because I like caring for the animals, and enjoy the connection that you make with them.”
There is so much more to being a “horse person” than simply sitting in a saddle. There is the feeding, cleaning, grooming and caring for the animal; the daily “work” that we do in order to keep our equine friends in tip-top shape…sometimes this is as rewarding as actually “riding”.
Barbara Wallace of Norco, CA
“I ride because I love to compete. I’ve been competitive since I was a child, and when I found horses, I realized it was the most incredible way for me to be competitive while also caring for and loving the most amazing animals in the world.”
Having a competitive nature myself, I feel this particular quote. Whether you “compete” in a horse show sense or not, there is always a level of “competition” in your riding and horsemanship…it may be as simple as making your trail horse the very best that he can be, or having the most well groomed horse in the barn, but it’s impossible to say that you don’t enjoy compliments received regarding your horse or your riding.
Melanie Simpson of Paso Robles, CA
“I rode when I was young and then had to quit while I was in college; then I got married, had kids, and a career. Something was nagging at me, though, and I realized about 5 years ago that it was not having horses in my life. It has always been one of my dreams to have a house and a horse that I can see outside my bedroom window, and you’re never too old to make your dreams come true.”
A beautiful statement of truth. When we are young, we have all of these grand dreams, but sometimes life just gets in the way. That is not to say that the path we end up choosing isn’t fulfilling or meaningful, but true dreams never go away. Dreams are attainable; maybe not in the exact fashion that we see in our mind’s eye, but if we want something bad enough, we can make it happen despite age or circumstance.
And finally, it wouldn’t be fair for me to pose a question without providing an answer of my own…
Sarah Williams of Grover Beach, CA
“I ride for the constant challenge and focus that horses give to me; it is one of the greatest gifts in my life. Riding is in my blood, and it always will be.”
My dad had horses when he was a boy, and still tells stories of the days when he would hop on his horse in the then rural area of Rowland Heights, CA, in the morning and wouldn’t return until after dark. He and a group of his friends would ride all day long down dirt roads, through Orange Orchards, across rivers and streams, and even up and down the terraced hills being readied for new homes, stopping here are there to let their horses have a drink of water or a snack of tall green grass; it was a magical time in his life. The first memory that I have of horses is riding my little Shetland Pony alongside my dad and his high strung Running Quarter Horse mare, “Birdie”. Even years later, he was a great rider, and he even got my mother into it as well…I guess you could say it became a family affair. When I was 10 years old, I took up showing on the Arabian Horse circuit, and while my parents no longer rode, they became my “show team”, and they still are to this day. So, riding is in my blood, and horses are in theirs. It’s challenging, rewarding, frustrating at times, but something I just don’t think I could live without.
A big “thank you” to all of those who chose to participate in this article. Your quotes are inspirational and echo the sentiments that, I believe, we all feel on some level. We are all in this little “horse community” together, and that makes us family!
Let’s hear from you . . . leave a comment and tell us why YOU love to ride!
Photo Credit: Sarah Williams