Saturday, August 9, 2014

Equestrian Sports Vs. "Real" Sports


I hear debate every now and again about whether or not equestrian sports are real sports - I maintain that they are, of course. I mean, I spend 6 days a week training myself and my horse and we enter competitions...sounds like a sport to me!

However, in the past decade or so I've really lost touch with the more "traditional" sports. I love watching soccer on TV with my dad and/or husband, but I haven't actually played it in any organized manner for about 12 years now. 

This summer my husband wanted us to join our church's softball team. I admit, I was a little hesitant at first, (an evening after work where I wouldn't be able to go to the barn? Madness) but I agreed. And I'm so glad I did. I had forgotten what it felt like to be on a team. Sure, at my job I have to work as a team with my coworkers, and yeah, my horse and I are a team, but being on a sports team is really quite different. 

The camaraderie that one builds with their teammates on a sports team is unlike anything else in my opinion - we root and cheer for each other, keep the morale up, and help each other improve. We're working together to achieve a common goal: winning the game. The feeling is hard to describe other than that "team feeling."

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not discrediting equestrian sports at all - it's just different. It's being on a type of team that a majority of people won't experience or even understand. I go to the barn 6 days a week to spend time with my horse, building a bond of trust and respect, and, like other sports, practicing and training for competition. 

Riding is more of an individual sport. However, it's still unlike anything else because there's still another being involved in the training...it's just not a human being. In a sport like running, you just have to rely on yourself. In riding, you have to rely on an animal as well - and that animal may or may not be cooperative at any given time.

In softball, my team depends on me to show up and play. In riding, my horse depends on me to show up and take care of her, but I also depend on myself to show up and put in the time. With softball, I have the expectations of a group to help motivate me. With riding, I only have myself to rely on for motivation. And not only am I training my own body and mind, I am training my horse's body and mind as well. 

I suppose riding can be a team sport too - take the Olympics or the WEG for example, where each country competes for a team medal. I imagine there is camaraderie on these teams as well and teammates root each other on, but I think the dynamic probably still remains different than with there more traditional team sports. And until I make the Olympics (haha) I probably will have no experience worth riding as a team sport.

So I guess what I'm saying is that team sports and equestrian sports are just fundamentally different (just call me Captian Obvious) - but both are certainly sports and there's a lot of value in both of them. Throughout the softball season, I realized I've actually really missed playing on a sports team - is a great feeling. Riding, of course, is still my primary sport and it's where my main goals lie. 

Softball season is over now, but I'm looking forward to the next one! In the meantime, I'm going to keep riding!

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