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Liza Alexanderova
Carla Poulton 
16 January 2018
Riding Is a Sport
For those who have sat on a horse through a guided thirty minute trail ride, on a well trained therapeutic horses, yes, you did just sit there, but that is not what horseback riding is all about. Scientific experiments have been done that show that cross country skiers and horseback riders have the same heart rate during the two workouts. From that information, it is clear that horseback riding is just as much work as skiing, but why is horseback riding still not considered a sport? 
I clearly consider it one, since it is a workout; you burn 463 calories just by galloping a horse for one hour, wheres playing football for one hour burns 438 calories. So why would horseback riding not be considered a sport? People believe it is not a sport, because they think it does not follow the same common factors of the more widely accepted sports. A common assumption made by those who don’t ride is “but you just sit there”, although insulting, quite flattering as well, why thank you, I guess I am that good.  Some of the more widely accepted sports would be basketball, soccer, and baseball, which are all ball-sports. They all have common denominators, which relate them to each other, for instance they all use an object other than a human body, for example a ball, a puck or a stick. Horseback riding suits most of the common denominators between other ball-sports; just the denominators for riding are slightly different. Instead of an inanimate object, riders work together with a 1,2000 lb animals in order to complete a task. Horseback riding is a sport because it follows the denominators of ball-sports, which are, they all have marking systems that award points or give penalties, has defined rules, uses multiple muscle groups extensively.
The first evidence to why horseback riding is a sport, is that horseback riding follows the same criteria as any other mainstream sports, which is that all sports have a marking system that awards points or gives penalties. For example, in a game of basketball, the more balls you get in the basket, the more points you will get; each score in the basket awards 1, 2 or 3 points depending on where you stand and the situation. For instance, if you get a foul shot, you get two shots and each time you get it in the basket you get awarded one point. If you shoot from centre court, you get awarded three points, all other shots are two points each. Just like mainstream sports, horseback riding also has a marking system. In a show jumping competition, if you knock down one pole on a jump, you get plus four faults. Additionally, if your horse refuses a jump, then it is also four faults added to your score.  Another way horse riding has a marking system is if you go over the time allowed, then penalties will be added in the form of adding one point for every second to your faults. The competitors with the least amount of points and the fastest time wins. 
Moreover, like any sport, there are defined rules that all must compete by, horseback riding is no exception. One rule for horseback riding is that there is a limited number of refusals a horse and rider can make before getting disqualified. Riders are disqualified after two refusals. In comparison to basketball, if the ball goes out of bound, the game pauses and the team who did not touch the ball last gets the possession of the ball. Another rule that carries through most sports is attire that is worn. In basketball, you must wear a jersey, shorts, and footwear. The players must all wear the same colours if on a team together, and must wear a different colour compared to the other team. In horseback riding, the same rules apply. During competitions, riders must wear an approved riding helmet, tall polished boots, white or beige breeches, a show shirt, show jacket and gloves. Horses too have their own set of attire, a saddle, saddle pad, bridle, and depending on the competition, horses might need other attire such as jumping boots, breastplates, martingales, ear bonnets and other. These are just some rules and requirements, although there are many more.
Like most sports, horseback riding takes a lot of training, muscle group building and tactics. To reach a competitive level, it takes years of training, hard work, and dedication. Runners must build leg strength to become better and faster, horseback riders are similar. In riding you must continue to build calf, quad, hamstring and gluten muscles to help balance and support yourself while training and competing. Leg strength is not the only muscle group you must build; the core is crucial for completive riders as it helps control stronger horses and helps you guide yourself around the course and/or test. Arm strength also has a great impact on the overall performance. For you to maintain a steady contact with the horses mouth you must have soft hands and heavy elbow and strong upper arm. As riders move up the levels, the difficulty of competition increases tremendously and therefore requires stronger and more powerful horses. In order to maintain control over powerful horses, you must use all of these muscle groups and body parts. Legs are required in order to guide the horse through the course or test, maintaining a steady pace and constantly supporting the horse with your outside leg. You must use your core in order to control your horses pace and stamina as well as helping the horse balance with every step he takes. As mentioned previously, arms are important to keep a steady contact with your horse in order to be able to make adjustments and corrections quickly throughout the course. 
In conclusion, it is clear that horseback riding is as much of a sport as any other ball-sports, and in some ways is more complex because it too has a marking system, defined rules and the use of different muscle groups in order to be able to preform well. An obvious reason that gives another proof for horseback riding being a sport is the fact that it is in the Olympics, is football? A survey was done that showed that out of 71 people who participated, 67% believe that horseback riding is a sport, and I agree with every one of them.It is important to respect all sports equally because all sports are difficult and unique in different ways. What seems simple from a far, can turn out much more complex up close. Instead of discriminating other pupils passion, respect and learn more about it to have a clear understanding of the complexity of it. 

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