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A True Team Sport

For the past two weeks, taking place in Kentucy was the World Equestrian Games. These games are held once every 4 years, as in the case of the Olympic Games. The games in Kentucy are the first games held outside of Europe and over 500 athletes from 58 countries attended. Remember since these are the world “Equestrian” games, there are not only human participants but the horses as well. That is over 1000 athletes converging on the Kentucy Horse Park. These games have been televised for the past two weekends and naturally I had the PVR set to record.

jumpingdrivingjpgreining

These games have many different facets of equestrian sport. Most of us are familiar with horse jumping which is occasionally seen on TV. But these games bring together equestrian disciplines such as western reining, driving teams, acrobats and vaulting, jumping, dressage, eventing as well as an endurance race.

Now, you ask why am I writing about the World Equestrian Games? Well, the games are of interest to me personally because I spent my pre teens to early adulthood showing horses in primarily jumping and dressage. My father bred thoroughbreds for racing, so I spent a lot of time around and on horses for many years. In fact some of my fondest memories with my father are getting to go to the racetrack on Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch the horses get “exercised” on the track and to walk the shed rows with my Dad en route to the cook shack to sit and munch on doughnuts while my Dad talked with trainers and barn staff.

racetrackjpg

But, primarily as I watched the events on the TV, I marvelled at what amazing human and equine athletes these are. Some of these equine disciplines takes years of training to reach this level. Not only the skills must be taught, but the animals must also be conditioned just as their human counterparts. Strength and conditioning for
the horses is just as important as it is for the human athletes. Care and methodical training is done to not only elicit the performance needed but also to keep the animals healthy over a long competitive season.

I think what I marvel at the most, is that the equine sports are the only sport that men and women compete on equal footing. It makes no difference which discipline it is. Anything from thoroughbred racing to the western disciplines of reining/cutting to clearing huge hurdles in stadium jumping competitions, men and women compete
equally. There are no separate classes for men and for women. They compete head to head or should I say, horse to horse.

dressage

vaulting
This requires that the humans must be every bit the athlete as the horse. Petite women barely weighing in at 120 lbs compete equally with men in the control of a 1200-1500 lb horse in various events.

Equine sports are truly a sport that demands a team approach. The team of horse and rider must work together for a common goal; each depending on the other. No wherewhere else is sport is this more evident.

Till next time,
Narina
“Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”

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