The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Why Horseback Riding is a Sport: One Student’s Quest to Convince Doubters


Many people believe that horseback riding is not a sport because they believe that it is ‘too easy’ or that ‘the horse does all the work’ and there is ‘no physical exertion’, and the same people might also say that it is ‘just an activity’ and does not warrant being called a sport.

There are many students at WIS who, when riding is brought up in various conversations, say things such as “Horseback riding is not a sport”, “The horse does all of the work and the rider just shucks the reigns at it”, and “It’s so easy”.

Riding horses has been a crucial element in human history from using horses for transportation or in battle in the form of calvary. Dressage, a popular form of riding today, actually originated from battle maneuvers performed by calvary in order to devastate the opposing foot soldiers.

People would have had a lot less time to be devoted to artistic and scientific advances if horses had not begun to be used to do heavy farm work like plowing fields and harvesting crops. Also many European and Asian societies would have never developed at the speed that they did and when these societies came in contact with one another there would have been entirely different results. (

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Riding is in fact one of the most dangerous sports that exist. In 2007, around 78,000 people were sent to the emergency room because of horse riding related injuries, and 15 percent of these injuries were comprised of trauma to the head and brain, according to  It takes incredible discipline to stay on the horse and not fall off and get injured.

Illustration By Alejandro González

Julia Diaz-Young, a student at Washington International School who does not ride, gives her point of view on the subject “It takes a lot of athletic ability to stay on the horse” she says proving the point that there are people who do not ride who still think that horseback riding is a sport.

Horseback riding takes many different forms and different riders will usually specialize and eventually compete in one of the different types; dressage, eventing, cross country, steeplechasing, racing, show jumping, and western riding. Each discipline is completely different from another, and people spend years trying to master their chosen discipline before they begin to compete against other riders.

There are even some students at WIS who participate or used to participate in riding competitions. Elena Zettelmeyer, a student who has been riding since a young age, said “some of my favorite memories of horseback riding come from doing little competitions when I was younger […] I just loved competing.”

Horseback riding is also included in the Summer Olympics which is another reason why it is considered to be a sport. Every 4 years equestrian athletes travel to where the olympics are being held and compete to win gold, silver, and bronze.

The International Equestrian Federation, the international governing body of all equestrian sports, declares on their official website that, “Three equestrian disciplines have been on the Olympic programme since 1912: Jumping, Dressage and Eventing”

Horseback riding also allows for a bond to form between the rider and the horse, and these two very different animals will begin to rely on each other and trust one another. The horse trusts the rider to be kind to them and to ask them to execute actions in a safe manner. The rider trusts the horse to listen to them and to do what is asked of them. As Zettelmeyer said there is also a freeness that comes when riding especially when you are galloping on the beach or through the mountains.

One of the easiest things about riding, but it does take a little bit of time, is Trusting the horse and relaxing and letting your horse leave you, Zettelmeyer said.

“[The] equestrian sport is one of the very few sports where men and women compete on equal terms all the way up to Olympic level. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes: horse and rider. The relationship and mutual respect built up between the two is the key to a successful partnership, ” according to the International Equestrian Federation, (

Horseback riding is a sport because it requires an extreme amount of muscle and discipline, it has been in the Olympics since 1912, there are competitions, and the way riders are supposed to make it look effortless when in reality it takes incredible strength to execute moves precisely and safely like riders are required to do.

By: Lucy Porter

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  • K

    KaydenMar 7, 2024 at 6:19 pm

    same I am doing this essay for school, and this is soooo helpful thank you so much for writing this.

  • Z

    ZoeFeb 5, 2024 at 3:31 pm

    I love this article and agree with everything thank you for all the hard work you put in to this!