Horseback riding: the missing sport at Highlands High School

     The smell of manure and hay. The touch of the horse’s mane and tail. The sound of the horses’ hooves on the ground and neighing. You see all the horses and the horse flies flying around you.

     This is a typical scene at a horse farm.

     At Highlands High School there are a few people who horseback ride. Even though horseback riding is not a recognized sport at Highlands, it truly has all of the elements of a sport. It requires skill, balance, physical strength, and endurance.

     Although horseback riding does not require tackling another team or kicking a ball into a goal, horseback riders need to manage a 1,000 plus pound animal while going up to a speed of 55 miles per hour. This takes time and patience to master. 

     According to Frost Valley, horseback riding works important core muscles: abs, back, and thighs. These stabilize the torso while providing coordination, stability, balance, and flexibility. Along with this, a person needs to have good mental and physical strength.

     Eventing is when horses and humans take part in equestrian competitions. There are several events in horseback riding ranging from weaving in and out of poles to the take-off from a jump to shooting balloons with a gun. There are 32 plus events ranging from English Riding to Western Riding.

     According to Senior Kierra Guttadauro, horseback riding isn’t recognized as a sport here at Highlands.

     “You can see more types of eventing that aren’t as representative here at Highlands.”

     For different events, you use a different saddle.

     Junior Maggie Hahn disclosed her favorite horse along with some of the events she competes in. 

     “Dutchess my competition horse is my favorite. Dutchess is a Dutch Harness Horse crossed with Through Red, Cream Draft, and Holsteiner. Dutchess and I compete in Cross Country, Stadium, and Dressage.” 

     English riding and western riding are very different from each other. The English saddle is smaller, along with people having closer contact with the horse’s back. They also have closer contact with the horse’s mouth and use the reins for speed and direction with help from their legs and seat.

     Hahn stated which type of horseback riding she prefers. 

     “English because I wanted to jump.” 

     Showjumping is one of the many events that people can do when riding English. 

     The western saddle is much wider than the English saddle. To spread a person’s weight over a large area of your horse’s back, which is more comfortable for long days of riding. People also don’t have close contact with the horse’s mouth so, instead, they use their seat, their weight, and put light pressure on either side of the horse’s neck with their reins to make them turn.

     Sophomore Frances Eckerle disclosed what she enjoys most about horseback riding. 

     “Seeing who else is interested and a good opportunity to meet new people with the same interest.” 

      Guttadauro commented on why she would join a horseback riding team at Highlands.

     “For sure It is fun to be around people from different barns because each barn has a different way of doing things”

     Eckerle stated the name of her horse and what they compete in together. 

     “Turner- He’s just a fun but also challenging horse so getting good rides with him is really rewarding! Turner’s breed is a Quarter Horse. Turner and I compete in Dressage, Cross Country, and Show Jumping.” 

     Even though horseback riding isn’t recognized at HHS over 25 million people ride horses. This can range from competitive riding to just going on a relaxing trail ride.