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Horse riding is more than a sporting pursuit

HAVE you ever really wanted to try something, but been too scared or intimidated to just go ahead with it? Something similar to horse riding, for example?

If your answer is yes, then know that you are not the only one feeling this way. It is in fact true that horses can come across as intimidating creatures, perhaps because of their regal appearance.

Having said that, horses have proven to be trusted companions among some of the greatest rulers, such as Alexander's horse Bucephalus, who he even named the city "Bucephala" (modern-day Jhelum in Pakistan) after.

Even to Gopal Shri, an equestrian and horse-riding trainer, horses have been what dogs are to most people: faithful companions that keep his lifestyle active and even adventurous.

The first traces of horse domestication have been found in ancient Egypt, India and China, where horses were used for chariots in warfare and to carry heavy burdens over large distances. Horse riding evolved as a sport during medieval times when they were used jousting, where mounted knights try to knock each other off their horses. In 1912, equestrian events were included in the Olympics and since then, horses have had a lot of sporting importance.

Equestrianism is the skill of horse riding. But what about equestrianism makes it so different from other horse-riding sports?

For me, this question was first answered by Shri. He told me that equestrianism was more about "you and your horse." He further explained that it was all about the combination of the rider and the horse and how they gel to form a team.

Rocky Du, an equestrian and horse-riding trainer at the Sun Island leisure resort in Shanghai also explained to me that horse riding has physical benefits and is very good for the development of one's muscles. The thighs and abdomen are especially strained during horseback riding.

Of course, horse riding can be injurious, but I can confidently say that the solution is not to avoid horse riding altogether, but simply to respect the horses and to be careful.

Not only is horse riding physically beneficial, it can also be very good for one's emotional health.

Previously, I mentioned how a horse and a rider gel together to form a team. It is through the method of communication they share that a relationship slowly develops between them. Perhaps you could think of it as the relationship best friends share; a relationship whereby both parties bring out the best in each other.

I have personally gained satisfaction from successfully being able to communicate with horses. But there's more to horse riding than inner satisfaction. There is one very important use of horse riding that most people are unaware of.

To introduce you to this use, let me tell you about a friend of Du's; let's call him Tom. Tom was unable to walk and behave properly due to a neurological condition. His family tried many different kind of treatments for him and then finally, they tried a therapy in which he developed mentally by associating with horses. Commonly called therapeutic horseback riding or hippotherapy, horse riding has helped many children like Tom.

Now that I have shared most of what I learnt about the health and social impacts of horse riding, let me go back to the initial question of this article. Have you ever really wanted to try something, but been too scared or intimidated to simply go ahead with it? Well sometimes, when you do take that risk, you realize how much you were missing out on, just like I did. Therefore, I urge you to go out there, and give horseback riding a shot. It's a risk worth taking!

(Article by Ritika Gadodia, an SSIS student)


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