There are numerous disciplines that a rider can choose to learn or specialise in. We will be offering these different disciplines, at different levels, when specalist instructors are avaliable. The most common horse sports are as follows:
The Olympic Disciplines: Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing
1. Dressage ~ the foundational training of many other disciplines.
Dressage (a French term, most commonly translated to mean "training") is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, the horse will respond smoothly to a skilled rider's minimal aids. The rider will be relaxed and appear effort-free while the horse willingly performs the requested movement. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet". Although the discipline has ancient roots in Europe, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then. Classical dressage is still considered the basis of modern dressage.
In modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests", prescribed series of movements ridden within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten – zero being "not executed" and 10 being "excellent". A score of 9 is very good and is a high mark, while a competitor achieving all 6s (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.
2. Show Jumping
Very popular today, and great to watch ...
Jumper classes are held over a course of show jumping obstacles, including verticals, spreads, double and triple combinations, usually with many turns and changes of direction. The intent is to jump cleanly over a set course within an allotted time. Time faults are assessed for exceeding the time allowance. Jumping faults are incurred for knockdowns and refusals (when the horse stops before a fence or "runs out"). Horses are allowed a limited number of refusals before being disqualified. A refusal may lead to a rider exceeding the time allowed on course. Placings are based on the lowest number of points or "faults" accumulated. A horse and rider who have not accumulated any jumping faults or penalty points are said to have scored a "clear round." Tied entries usually have a jump-off over a raised and shortened course, and the course is timed; if entries are tied for faults accumulated in the jump-off, the fastest time wins.
In most competitions, riders are allowed to walk the initial course, but not the jump-off course (usually the same course with missing jumps, e.g., 1, 3, 5, 7, 8 instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) before competition to plan their ride. Walking the course before the event is a chance for the rider to walk the lines he or she will have to ride, in order to decide how many strides the horse will need to take between each jump and from which angle. Going off course will cost time if minor errors are made and major departures may result in disqualification.
The more higher levels of competition, such as "A" rated shows in the United States, or the international "Grand Prix" circuit, present more technical and complex courses. Not only is the height and width ("spread") of an obstacle increased to present a greater challenge, technical difficulty also increases with tighter turns and shorter or unusual distances between fences. Horses sometimes also have to jump fences from an angle rather than straight on. For example, a course designer might set up a line so that there are six and a half strides (the standard measure for a canter stride is twelve feet) between the jumps, requiring the rider to adjust the horse's stride dramatically in order to make the distance.
Eventing (also known as horse trials) is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding. The competition may be run as a one-day event (ODE), where all three events are completed in one day (dressage, followed by show jumping and then cross country) or a three-day event (3DE), which is more commonly now run over four days, with dressage on the first two days followed by cross country the next day and then show jumping in reverse order on the final day. Eventing was previously known as Combined Training, and the name persists in many smaller organizations. The term "Combined Training" is sometines confused with the term "Combined Test" which refers to a combination of just two of the phases, most commonly dressage and show jumping. Eventing is an equestrian triathlon, in that it combines three different disciplines in one competition set out over one, two, or three days, depending on the length of courses and number of entries.
The show hunter is a type of show horse that is judged on its movement, manners, and way of going, particularly while jumping fences. The horses are shown in hunt seat style tack, and are often of Warmblood orThoroughbred type, though a hunter-style pony is also seen in youth classes. In the United States, show hunters are primarily exhibited over fences, with a few additional classes offered for horses shown in-hand or on the flat. In the United Kingdom, competition over fences is called "Working Hunter," and the term "Show Hunter" describes classes held on the flat. The course of fences a show hunter must jump is usually made up of 8-12 obstacles of natural type material. The fences are not brightly-colored as in show jumping, instead they are mostly brown, green, white, beige, and other natural colors. They do not exceed 4'3" in height. The course may include verticals, oxers, gates, and fences with "natural" fillers, like brush or flowers. Open water jumps and liverpools, common obstacles in show jumping arena, are not used in a show hunter course. Although combination fences may be seen, they are usually only two elements, and have easier distances between them than those found in show jumping. Banks and ditches are not found on the show hunter course, nor are any major changes in terrain, and often the horses jump on level footing in an enclosed arena.
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West. American cowboys needed to work long hours in the saddle over rough terrain, sometimes needing to rope cattle with a lariat (or lasso). Because of the necessity to control the horse with one hand and use a lariat with the other, western horses were trained to neck rein, that is, to change direction with light pressure of a rein against the horse's neck. Horses were also trained to exercise a certain degree of independence in using their natural instincts to follow the movements of a cow, thus a riding style developed that emphasized a deep, secure seat, and training methods encouraged a horse to be responsive on very light rein contact.
Though the differences in equipment appear dramatic, fewer differences between English and Western riding exist than most people think. Both styles require riders to have a solid seat, with the hips and shoulders balanced over the feet, with hands independent of the seat so as to avoid jerking the horse in the mouth and interfering with its performance.
"Western Riding" is also the name for a specific type of event within western competition where a horse performs a pattern that combines trail and reining elements. Some of the common catergories within Western Riding are:
4. Trail Riding
5. Barrel Racing
6. Pleasure Showing Riding
7. Western Dressage
There are two main types of long-distance riding, competitive trail riding and endurance rides. In an endurance ride, discussed in this article, the winning horse is the first one to cross the finish line while stopping periodically to pass a veterinary check that deems the animal in good health and fit to continue. In the United States, most endurance rides are either 50 or 100 miles (160 km) long. Shorter rides, called Limited Distance Competition, are organized for new riders to the sport or young horses being trained. There are also a few longer, usually multi-day, rides run as well. As with human marathon running, many riders will participate to improve their horse's personal best performance and consider finishing the distance with a proper vet completion record to be a "win". In the USA, the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) sanctions endurance rides. In the UK, Endurance GB is the governing body. Winning riders complete 100-mile (160 km) rides in 10-12 hours.
Competitive trail rides are shorter, and factors other than speed are considered; horses may not come in under or over a certain time, and veterinary checks, rider behavior and other elements play a role in the placings. (See Competitive trail riding.)
Worldwide, rules vary. Endurance rides and races can be any distance, though they are rarely over 160 km for a one-day competition.
Horse and Carraige Driving
Before motor cars came into existance people traveled by Horse drawn vehicles such as Stage Coaches, Carriges, Buggies, Gigs and Carts. There are still some remote places around the world that still employ horses in everyday life for this type of transport, especially throughout Russuia and some parts of Europe. We wish to offer people the opportunity to learn how to drive horses so we can keep this art alive.
One of the popular sports which involves horse driving is called Combined Driving:
Combined driving (also known as horse driving trials) is an equestrian sport involving carriage driving. In this discipline, the driver sits on a vehicle drawn by a single horse, a pair or a team of four. The sport has three phases: dressage, cross-country marathon and obstacle cone driving, and is most similar to the mounted equestrian sport of eventing. It is one of the ten international equestrian sport horsedisciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI); combined driving became an FEI discipline in 1970.