I have thought about this a lot recently as I face not riding again. The question why do I love riding so much comes to mind…What is it about being on a horse that I crave, as I do crave it, it becomes almost like an addiction. Ask any person who has lived and breathed horses all their life and they will tell you. The thought of not riding is almost unthinkable.
I have read on this subject, articles that outline the different types of riders, and throughout my many years watching my mum teach all sorts of different students, I came to see that there are many many different ways to love and be drawn to riding.
The most common I see is the rider who is afraid of the horse, but loves him anyway. This is the person who typically spends more time grooming than actually riding, and I have grown to admire this person the older I get. The person who spends countless hours with their horse, just in his presence, only to pop on for ten minutes, praying it goes ok, and then return to the stable to again pamper him as if he was the king of her world. A person who in spite of their fear finds comfort and purpose in being near this wonderful animal.
Another is the competitor. This person started off with a deep love of horses, and gradually it became their job. They still love the horse, but don’t get the luxury to spend as much time with him as they would like to and sometimes find themselves missing the days when they didn’t have clients and calendar commitments, and they could just use riding as their escape from life, not as their life itself.
The next is the passionate learner. This rider has spent their entire life on and off the horse reading and thinking and arguing (often heated at it times) over the correct training principles. They love to discuss the horse as much they love to ride him, and they find huge reward in the teaching of the horse, the lifelong journey of finding harmony with mans best friend. They are saddened today to see what the competition world has become and often feel puzzled or even angry watching the warm-ups of some (not all) of todays top riders.
The next is the thrill seeker. They love the more adrenaline filled disciplines and may or may not care for the accolades at the finish but more the out of control feeling they get on the course. They love to let go, because perhaps in other areas of their lives they are particularly organised and strict, or maybe the contrary, they are always a bit on the messy side, and this allows them to bring that out and make something of it.
You may not fit into any of these categories, in which case you would be like me. I am a combination of all of these. I grew up on a huge farm, and still to this day my favourite thing ever to do on the horse was to gallop across the paddock at home and bring the cattle in from out the back, with my Kelpie at my side. There is no greater feeling than that where the only two people in the world are you and your horse. You can create this in the competition arena, or in a crowded training ground, and this is the feeling that we as riders crave. When the rest of the world disappears and it is just us….I also have a piece of every other category. I love to fly across a cross country course my heart beating. I love to teach my horse piaffe and feel him learning and getting excited that he knows and understands what I want. I love to ride into the competition ring, to the sound of applause, and feel my horse grow a little underneath me. And I love to talk to my mother for hours on end about impulsion or collection, and watch videos, and discuss scores or tests, or what exercise would help best with our latest conundrum. And I also love to just be around the horse, and quite often I am scared…scared to fall, scared to be injured, scared that he will fall or be injured.
Horse riding becomes an addiction, it’s a passion that overtakes us and drives a huge part of our lives. I know before I even begin a conversation with my mum how her ride went that day, and I am sure many horse riding husbands have learnt when to just keep quiet…
So if the major part of your day is spent thinking about horses, and training horses, and getting back in the saddle, then which type of addict are you?