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By Ella Jensen

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Ella Jensen competing at the Los Angeles National Preview (Flying Horse Photography / Photo)

Ella Jensen competing at Los Angeles National Preview (Flying Horse Photography / Photo)

By Ella Jensen | Staff Writer

May 29, 2013

Yesterday my friends and I were talking about all the sports we participate in.

But when I started to talk about how I am a competitive horseback rider, they instantly rejected horseback riding as a sport.

Contrary to popular belief, horseback riding is a sport.

This is because, like other sports, horseback riding is a strenuous physical activity,

I mean, have you felt my calves?

Rock. Hard.

And these babies don’t cultivate themselves.

Most, if not all riders, condition in order to prepare themselves for everyday practice and competitions. Every few days I either run or go to the gym in order to preform my best–just like any other athlete.

While on the horse, riders exercise their entire bodies. Not only do my legs get a workout, so does my core, arms, and upper body.

Staying on the horse is hard enough, let alone jumping over a five foot fence while riding a wild beast. You try to ride a horse (WELL) and let me know how it goes.

Riding depends a lot on balance and coordination, more than most sports.  When someone is four feet of the ground traveling at 17 miles per hour, you’d better hope they have good balance and coordination.

When people claim that the horse is doing all of the work, they are mistaken.  It’s true that the horse puts in a lot of effort, but so does the rider.

While the horse’s legs are getting beautifully toned, so are mine.

Moreover, the rider helps the horse do its tasks.

The horse would have trouble taking off before a jump if it weren’t for the rider’s assistance; In fact, without the rider’s training the horse would only be able to perform fifty percent of the tasks it could with the rider’s aid.

Also, in order to graduate from high school each student must participate in at least four semesters of physical education.

Many students surpass these expectations with independent P.E. (where a student participates in a school approved sport, while still receiving the credits).

I receive these credits through independent P.E. just as any other athlete would, but by competitively riding horses.

Also, multiple forms of horseback riding are Olympic sports. And just like basketball players, high jumpers, and fencers, riders go to great extremes such as intense training and immense time commitment in order to try to qualify for these legendary games.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that horseback riding is a very dangerous activity. Whenever anyone mounts a horse they are putting their life at risk. In fact, an average of 20 people die yearly from riding horses, and many more are seriously injured.  Even on the professional stage, horses land on their riders after a fall and the rider is crushed.

This is why riders need conditioning: in order to stay on their horse and avoid these possibly fatal accidents.

Sure there are dangers in other sports like being hit by a baseball or getting the occasional elbow to the chest, but it is nothing in comparison to being flattened by a 1,500 pound animal.

So “friends,” if you still think riding horses is not a sport, the only thing left to do is to try it.

And maybe, just maybe, your calves will be as marvelous as mine.

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Dos Pueblos High School's Student Newspaper
Athletes in the saddle