What does it mean to be a teenage horseback rider?

     The journey is long and hard while the peaks are short lived. The peak when you’re waiting, praying for your name not to get called as they run through the places, waiting for them to call first place with full anticipation; after the ride that you thought was perfectly executed. The brief moment that makes the long journey worth it. The moment when you hear your number get called and all the training, the blood, sweat, and tears has finally payed off. That’s why horseback riders compete, that’s why they train and travel to insane destinations for tough competitions. The hope to hear their number called, giving off that short lived high. What does it really mean to be a teenage horseback rider?  Horseback riders dedicate most of their time to their horse.  They miss fun parties that their friends invite them to.  They give up a lot, but they gain in their riding ability and the connection with their horse.  Horseback riders don't just ride their hoses, they clean their tack, muck stalls, and feed them.  There is still a big divide in how riders are treated; there is many different standard for riders.  Judges expect all riders on their horse to be tall, skinny, and extremely long legged.  Appearance is one of the biggest things judges look at, they want to see a rider look good on a horse.  Trainers knowing this often put diets on their show team, to get the figure judges want. Public schools often make it hard to compete in as many shows as the rider can because they expect students not to be leaving school early every other week or not even showing up at all.

     Horseback riders get looked at and judged by their appearances everyday. They get looked at based on their height and weight by trainers, judges and competitors. They are expected to be in top shape, always look and present themselves to the best of their abilities. “The idea that all riders need to be skinny is fake” (Miller). At one of Miller’s barns that she went to and competed with her trainer had a strict diet plan. Though it wasn’t much of a plan, the trainer had her favorites who were the tall skinny girls, who won competitions. She wouldn’t sign the other riders up for all the divisions they should have been put in or placed them in more advanced lessons. Many of the less supported riders would either take it upon themselves to go on a diet or would even be told by the trainer telling them to watch what they ate. Miller says that after losing about ten pounds and moving to a stable where your weight and height matter less, that she has learned it doesn’t matter how you look, you just have to be skilled in riding to win. Hunter seat riders must have their attire be very traditional because it is very similar to the traditional style fox hunting, hunter style ridings origin. (Privette, 13-14). Equitation classes judge the rider's ability to control the horse, and the riders physical appearance on the horse. (Privette, 26) Is it fair to judge riders based on factors of their body that they cannot always control?

     Horseback riders who train for the most elite competitions, like The Maclays or Pony Finals, have to dedicate a lot of time to showing because they need at least sixty points to qualify to compete. (Maclay Rules, 2). This is extremely hard to do when you are in a public school. Public schools have high expectations for you to be in class every day for the whole class period. This is expected in private schools but often they are lenient with their students who have sports on Fridays because the students pays to go to school. “They would often give me my work before I left for the show. I don’t think I went to school very often because in high school I was often out competing or being “sick”. They never said anything to me about it because I always made up my work and I also think since I paid tuition they couldn’t say anything because I was really just wasting my own money” (Radford). Hannah Mattis Radford is a trainer at Southern Oak Equestrian Center who explained that she was often able to miss school for shows because she always made up her work, so her private school never made a big deal. Horseback riders who go to private schools are normally able to have more time for training, which makes them show better. This is a great example on how horseback riders are treated differently not during education times but also economically because many riders can’t afford a private school because they are already spending so much on their horse, making them fall behind in showing and training.

     Horseback riding is often judged upon how a rider and horse look.  There are judgements that are fair and unfair.  There will always be that one judge you don't like and he probably doesn't like you.  That's the sport, that is what the rider signed up for it.  Abby Lee Miller once said "No tears. You save those tears for your pillow, in your room, alone."  No one wants to hear a rider cry at horse show even if they didn't win because many girls who ride don't get a chance to show because of money.  Do you want to be the rider who cries in front of everyone because you didn't do as well as you wanted?  Is it fair that judges judge riders on their weight and hight?  Would you want to keep competing after being torn apart?  Horseback riders are in it for the long haul, the blood, sweat and tears.  They can take it, can you?

                                               MLA Format Bibliography

Genna. "~What Equestrians Think While Showing~." YouTube. YouTube, 14 Mar. 2015.  Web. 27 May 2015.

Miller, Abby Lee. "'Dance Moms' Quotes: 25 Sayings From The Lifetime Show To Share On International Dance Day 2014." International Business Times. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 27 May 2015.

Miller, Mary. "All Riders Don't Need to Be Skinny." Personal interview. 27 May 2015.


"Professional Horseback Riding-How To Get There." Professional Horseback Riding-How To Get There. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2015.

Radford, Hannah Mattis. "Private School vs. Public School." Personal interview. 27 Mar. 2015.

Robinson, Ellie. "So You Think Horse Riding Is Easy." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 27 May 2015.

"2014 Rules and Regulations of the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Horsemanship Classes." 2014 Rules and Regulations of the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Horsemanship Classes (2014): 1-5. 2014 Rules and Regulations of the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Horsemanship Classes. ASPCA, 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Comment Stream

2 years ago

Thanks for all the info! I'm going to save this for later!