I started horse riding when I was 6 years old. Ever since people keep telling me that riding isn’t a sport and that the horse actually does most of the work. It’s pretty upsetting when people tell you that straight in your face but hey I guess that’s the life of a rider. Some people will never understand what the true meaning of a relationship between a human and a 600kg big horse means to me.
I grew up hearing the same stories every day. I was the girl that was obsessed with horses, missing out on parties when I was focused on training my horse. I was the girl that decided to finish her homework after school to cycle to the stables straight after. Horses always came first and everything else second. Even my family oftentimes told me that riding would just be a phase and once I would get into my teenage years, this interest would fade away. It wasn’t the case.
My never-ending passion
When I was 14 I got my first horse and therefore took on a lot of responsibility. My parents were not into horses and could not help me at the yard. I started to be pretty independent and looked after my first pony on my own. I started to work to pay for the bills and riding lessons. All my time was spent either with the horse or for the horse. Even then people were still telling me that I would loose interest after a while. Having a horse is just so much work and nothing for a growing up teen who wants to explore the world and go out with friends.
The years went on and I was starting to study and by then had my second horse. Valentino, who has now been with me for 11 years. I think most people would now finally believe me that horse riding was never just a phase in my life. It was a sport that kept me going. It was a true passion that I made sure to follow in all circumstances.
I made it through all the comments of people who kept telling me that riding is only for rich people and not really a sport. Most people I know actually don't have all the money and save up everything to afford their horse. It is the biggest cliche that is out there. Only because some rich people have horses doesn't mean that you're automatically rich if you have one too. That's pure non sense.
Especially leading up to the Olympics, the discussions around the sport started again and I was disappointed to the see that the media likes to draw attention to it, in the wrong way.
Riding can’t be compared with any other sport
Riding is special. It’s a sport that requires a relationship, a bond, between two individuals. It’s not like playing in a team with other people. It’s much more complex like that because a horse is not a human, it’s not equipment and it certainly doesn’t do it all for you. Because riding is such a complex sport it’s often misunderstood. People don’t know anything about it so they just label it irrelevant and stupid.
I had all these conversations and I just wish that people start to be more open about it. A horse is an animal that is highly sensitive and reacts to your mood and behaviour. It’s proven that horses can help in therapies with traumatised or disabled people. Not only do horses help these people. Looking after a horse is a huge responsibility. If you let your kid be around horses, it will learn a lot, that later in life will be useful. Horses teach you how to:
• Be patient
• Show respect
• Keep going
• Stay fair
• Build a relationship
• Balance your mood
• Build trust
• And have fun ☺
When it comes to sports, people should start accepting everybody’s decision to choose the sport that matches their personality. I love the work with horses, it gives me a lot and is much more spiritual than any other team sport. But hey, you can only get this feeling if you ever experience it yourself. Riding is not something you learn in a week. It took me 20 years to master building a relationship and I still have the feeling that I am learning something new every day.
I can only hope to see the sport being accepted more among the sports community! For me, it is more than a sport, or a hobby, it is a passion.