Why Ride?

  I am back with another post for all of you to read. I apologise for not publishing a post last week. I had meant to post, but since I was off on a mini vacation, there wasn't much time for me to sit down and write.

  Anyway, I've gotten a lot of questions from friends, family and strangers over the years about why I chose to start horseback riding and why I chose one discipline over another. I figured my response to these questions would make a good post that will allow you to get to know me a bit more.

  I had written a blog hop post related to this topic which you can read about by clicking here. In that post, I talked about why I still have my passion to ride and why I am so loyal to the sport. I explained that it's more than just a sport, but a special partnership too. What I didn't talk about in that post is what drew me to the sport to begin with.

  Every little girl would love to have their own pony and I was no different. I met my first horse at the age of three and begged my parents to ride until my first lesson at the age of seven. I couldn't tell you exactly what sparked my desire to ride because I can't remember.

  I was never a sporty person. Before I started riding, my parents signed me up for soccer, swimming and figure skating. None of these sports clicked with me like riding did. It didn't come naturally to me and I never had a desire to improve myself. In school, I was usually picked last when it came to physical activities. I was just never any good at playing volleyball, floor hockey or football. I always wanted to find a sport of my own. I liked the idea of being sporty, but I was never any good.

  Riding, however, came naturally to me. Even to this day, I'm a little surprised I ever did find a sport that worked for me. As I started to learn how to walk, trot and canter, I discovered the uniqueness of the sport and I was hooked.

  Where I lived, English riding (especially hunter/jumper) was generally the discipline of choice. So in some ways, my discipline was kind of chosen for me. I grasped the basics of riding at a hunter/jumper barn and learnt that I love jumping and didn't like the flat. My parents then enrolled me in a summer riding camp for a few years where they focused on eventing. This was where my views of the flat and dressage changed and I gained more respect and admiration for the discipline. This was also where I was introduced to cross-country.

  I am now at a point where I have to choose which discipline I would like to keep training in. I've decided to train in hunter/jumper simply because I've always had the goal of being like the show jumpers I've watched on tv for so many years.

  I have so much respect for riders of all disciplines and I believe there is no such thing as one discipline being better than another. Not one discipline is easier than another; they all have their challenges. If you love the partnership of riding, but you know that hunter/jumper or eventing is not right for you, there are so many other disciplines to try. I think that vaulting is amazing and that barrel racing is exciting. Maybe you'll find your spot in the horse world by training through natural horsemanship. You'll never know until you try.

  So I hope that you have learnt a little bit more about me through this post. I'd love to know why you chose to ride and why you chose your discipline over another. Please let me know in the comments or in a blog post response. I wish you all a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading.

  Until next time, happy riding!

Location, Location, Location

  Depending on your discipline and what you plan on doing with your horse, location is important. You can only do so much if the footing, size and weather conditions of the space you are trying to work in is working against you.

  If you keep your horses on land that does not have a leveled riding ring, you can't expect to train your horse to be a Grand Prix jumper. That's why location is important.

  When working with a young horse that you are trying to teach how to longe or accept a saddle and a rider, your ideal location would be in a round pen that is away from all distractions. If you decide to work in a bigger ring, the chances of your horse running out or cutting in to the circle have increased. Of course, you want to build your horse up to be able to longe him almost anywhere, but to start off it's better to work in a round pen as it sets both of you up to be more successful than working anywhere else.

  When training for a hunter, jumper or equitation class, you want to have the space to build a proper course without being too crowded. It's kind of a given that jumping in a dressage ring won't get you too far. You won't have the space to get a 10 jump course in there.

  The same goes for those training for dressage, you want to train in a dressage ring instead of a bigger ring where there aren't any of the letters posted. Sure you can practice your shoulder ins and pirouettes in a big ring, but if you're practicing a test and want to make sure you transition at the right spot to be accurate, a dressage ring is where you should be.

  For those training for cross-country, they're able to be a little more flexible where they ride. You can easily ride in a jumping ring and modify the jumps to look more natural or build a cross-country course in a ring. When it comes to increasing stamina and getting them used to extending and collecting in an open space though, you need to expose them to that space. That way, they won't be so excited and hard to control when competition day arrives.

  If you're wanting to go on a trail ride, then go on a trail. There's no use in walking in or around a ring. It defeats the purpose of the joys of a trail ride. Try riding through a pasture if you don't have access to any trails. The great thing about trail riding is that it can build your bond while you experience "scary" things (like a rabbit or a squirrel running across your path) together.

  When you live up where the winters are cold and the ground is covered with snow, it makes it almost impossible to train in the winter without an indoor arena. If your winters take up many months like they do here, then you know that you can't let those months go to waste if you want to be ready for the show season in the spring and summer. So, an indoor is a must. They also make it possible to ride while it's raining and during other weather conditions that might happen in your area.

  You need to work with your horse in the right environment to achieve the results you want more easily. That doesn't mean you can't train your horse to be an international jumper without a proper jump course, it just means that it might take you longer and be more challenging for you.

  Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and I hope you all enjoy spending time with your horses. Have a good weekend!

  Until next time, happy riding!