A Complete Guide to Horse Riding

Whenever you talk about horse-riding, we immediately recall all the chivalrous knights in their shining armour, gallantly riding steeds with great finesse.  We often think about steeple chases and the galloping hooves of horses as they are racing across all kinds of territory.  Whatever we might think, the fact is that horse-riding used to be a privilege of the nobility back in the day, as these majestic horses are nothing short of royalty.  Horses have been there since times immemorial, and taming these creatures is what brought about a revolution in transportation and now an adventure sport.

horse riding 1

In a Nutshell

India has an old history of equestrian tradition, which is exemplary of stellar riding talent and horse-mounted cavalry.  It was essentially a sport that had a regal stature, after all, it was patronised by the Maharajas of Rajasthan who actually turned horse-riding into an adventure sport. 

Horse riding has been around for centuries, however, equestrianism first made its foray into organised sports with the jumping events in 1900 at the Summer Olympics in Paris, France.  However, after a short period it was withdrawn until the 1912 Olympics Games in Stockholm, Sweden.  Only men competed at the various events until 1948 with the riders being officers.  This restriction was then relaxed in 1951 and since the Helsinki Games in 1952, women too have been a part of the equestrian mixed events.  Since then, equestrianism has been a part of the Summer Olympic games ever since.  At present the various equestrian disciplines at the current Olympics include Jumping, Eventing and Dressage.  Out of these three disciplines, the most demanding of all is eventing.  Famous Indian jockeys include Suraj Narredu, P S Chouhan, A.Imran Khan, Imran Chisty, A Sandesh, S Zervan, S John, Trevor Patel, Y S Srinath, Aslam Kadar.

horse riding 2

What is Horse Riding?

There are many equestrian sports out of which horse racing is one such event that involves two or more jockeys riding horses over a determined distance in competition.  The competition has its roots form times immemorial, as it is to identify which of the horses is the fastest.  All this depends on the various in breed, obstacles, distances, track surfaces and the gait of the horse.  While horse racing is purely a source of entertainment sport, a majority of today’s horse racing is based on the gambling/betting associated with it.

The six turf clubs that organise horse racing in India are:  The Bangalore Turf Club, Hyderabad Turf Club, Royal Kolkatta Turf Club, Royal Western India Turf Club, Mysore Turf Club and Delhi Turf Club

Five classic races are held in India, inspired by the original British classic races such as the Indian Derby, St. Leger, The Indian Oaks, and the 1000 and 2000 Guineas. 

The FEI enlists the following international disciplines in Equestrian Sports

 

Olympic disciplines

Dressage

Eventing

Show jumping

Paralympic disciplines

Para-equestrianism: Dressage only at the Paralympics; dressage and combined driving at other FEI events

Other disciplines

Combined driving

Endurance riding

Horseball

Reining

Tent Pegging

Vaulting

Racing

Flat racing

Harness racing

Point-to-point

Steeplechase

Thoroughbred horse racing

Skijoring

English Riding

Classical dressage

Dressage

English pleasure

Eventing

Field hunter

Foxhunting

Gymkhana

Hunt seat

Saddle seat

Show hunter

Show hunter (British)

Show jumping

Show hack

Team chasing

Quadrille

Western Riding

Cowboy Mounted Shooting

Cowboy polo

O-Mok-See

Reining

Trail (horse show)

Western pleasure

Western riding (horse show)

Stock handling

Campdrafting

Cutting (sport)

Ranch sorting

Team penning

Working cow horse

Rodeo

Australian rodeo

Charreada

Chilean rodeo

United States rodeo events

Barrel racing

Breakaway roping

Calf roping

Goat tying

Pole bending

Saddle bronc and bareback riding

Steer wrestling

Team roping

Harness

Combined driving

Draft horse showing

Fine harness

Pleasure driving

Roadster

Scurry Driving

Team sports-Arena

Horseball

Pato

Polo

Polocrosse

Defined Area

Buzkashi

Jousting

Mounted archery

Mounted Games

Tent pegging

A Brief Overview and History of the Sport

  • It is not known exactly when horses were domesticated or first ridden, however, the approximate date is around 3500 BC. From chariot horses to war horses and from being used in transportation and agriculture to equestrian sports- horses have certainly come a long way!
  • Horse racing has been an ancient tradition and there is evident that proves it existed in Ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Syria. In fact, chariot racing was a popular sport back then and was a part of the Greek Olympics in 648 BC.  Historically, equestrian sports or horse racing events have been an excellent medium of entertainment for crowds as the competition requires specialised skills from both the rider and the horse.
  • Horse racing has been in India since more than 200 years. However, the first race course set up in India was in 1777 in Madras, now Chennai.  The country has six racing authorities and a very well organised racing and breeding industry with the Indian Stud Book maintaining a close record of all the thoroughbred breeding taking place in India.  
  • The Equestrian Federation was constituted in 1967 and in 1971 it became a member of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). It is the controlling and organising body of Equestrian events within the country and internationally.
  • The Jockeys Association of India came into force in 1971 with the intention to enhance the status of Jockeys and look into their problems such as cancelling of their licenses by the clubs without assigning any reason.
  • In India, there has always been a thrust on Equestrian sports particularly in the Indian Armed Forces and Police Forces as the 61st Cavalry is supposedly the largest non-ceremonial horse-mounted cavalry in the world. It is not surprising therefore, that most of the equestrian infrastructure of the country is under the control of the Army, whose officers form some of the most exceptional riders.
  • India is also one of the largest manufacturers of horse equipment such as saddellery which is also exported to the main equestrian playing countries. The Equestrian sports scene in India was quite dim as major organised Equestrian events were not happening until 2010 with the establishment of Equiwings Sports.  This organisation organised state-level and national-level Equestrian Championships on behalf of the Equestrian Federation of India to infuse a sense of professionalism in the sport and also enhance the number of riders in the country through advertising and publicity.  Equiwings Sports also went on to promote Equestrian Sports in schools so that young talent could be tapped and be exposed to the national and international circuits. 
  • There are a few Indian who have etched a name for themselves in Equestrian Events, with the sponsorship of large business houses and riding clubs. Ajai Appachu, is a distinguished Indian rider to participated in the finals of the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Jumping Challenge in Venezuela in July.  He also holds the distinction for bagging an individual gold medal in in the Korean Racing Authority Gold Cup jumping event in Seoul.  Imtiaz Anees, an Indian equestrian who participated at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was one rare exception as he was supported by corporate sponsorship.  Due to the limited scope of opportunities for equestrians in India, the best years of a rider are between 35-50 years.
  • Equestrian Sports have 8 disciplines such as Show Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Endurance, Vaulting, Reigning, Driving & Para and Tent Pegging. Polo is also considered as a leisure equestrian sport but does not fall under the aegis of the Equestrian Federation of India, as it is governed by the Indian Polo Association.
  • The domestic equestrian sports competitions include only Show Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Tent Pegging and Endurance. The sport where Indian riders win and score the most is in Equestrian Tent Pegging, owing to larger participation.  Indian riders are also touted amongst the best internationally in Equestrian Tent Pegging.
  • Equestrian sports fall under the aegis of the Equestrian Federation of India, that manages and controls all the national and international events. The country participates in various equestrian sports out of which it has a wide following in five- namely, tent pegging, endurance, showjumping, eventing and dressage.
  • The Indian Equestrian Team has done the country proud in the 2002 and 2006 games by earning bronze medals respectively. Furthermore, Indian riders- (late) Wing Commander IJ Lamba and Imtiaz Anees – represented the country at the Olympics. 
  • There are nine equestrian riders in India who have been bestowed the Arjuna Award, upon the recommendation of the National Federation, which mainly comprises of the Indian Army. Hence, only Army personnel have been proposed for these awards till date.

horse riding 4

The Rules and Basic Requirement for Horse Riding

Dressage Rules

  • Dressage is a French word that means ‘training’ hence this form of riding is a sport where” the horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements”.
  • There are two arena sizes- small and standard- where the latter is 20 by 40 meters and the latter 20 by 60 meters. Dressage comprises of a series of individual tests, whose difficulty increases.
  • The horses and riders are judged against a common standard and not in comparison to the other competitors at the event.

 

Show Jumping Rules

  • Show Jumping is also known as ‘Open Jumping” or “Stadium Jumping” and is usually a common event at various horse shows and the Olympics.
  • This event is held over various courses that comprise of obstacles, spreads, verticals and double and triple combinations. 
  • The horse rider is to make clean jumps over the course within a predetermined time limit. Points are deducted for jumping faults like refusals or knockdowns by the horse.
  • A horse and rider who do not have penalty points are said to have achieved a ‘clear round’.
  • Penalties for knockdowns are imposed only if the height/width of the jump is changed by the knockdown. Refusals are also penalised for up to four faults.

Eventing Rules

  • Eventing is an equestrian event where the rider and horse duo compete against various combinations in the triple disciplines of dressage, cross country and show jumping.
  • Eventing has its roots in the original cavalry test that determines the mastery of various types of riding.
  • Each movement is assessed on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest mark. The rules are that the rider is given 45 seconds to enter the ring, crossing which he/she is eliminated; if all four feet of the horse exit the arena any time during the test then that result in elimination; and if the rider slips or falls off the horse during the test then that also leads to elimination.
  • The next course is the cross country wherein there are 12-20 low level fences or 30-40 high level fences on a long outdoor circuit.

horse riding 5

Additional Facts

  • Correctly fitted hats are to be worn by the rider when lunging, leading, mounted or generally working around horses.
  • Either Jodhpur pants or breeches are acceptable and there is no colour restriction, however, plain bottom wear is preferred.
  • The footwear must be suitable for competitive riding such as fitted leather gaiters or boots.
  • Gloves must be worn while leading, lunging, riding and handling horses.
  • Body protectors are mandatory for cross-country jumping. It can be worn under the jacket or under a plain sweat shirt so that the arms are completely covered. 
  • Spurs are to be worn for those in Stage 4 and above, only when the need is there.
  • A whip must also be carried that should not be longer than 30 inches and less than 14 inches.
  • Hair should always be tied back.

horse riding 6

Who are the Governing Bodies for Horse Riding?

The Equestrian Federation was constituted in 1967 and in 1971 it became a member of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).  It is the controlling and organising body of Equestrian events within the country and internationally. 

The Jockeys Association of India came into force in 1971 with the intention to enhance the status of Jockeys and look into their problems such as cancelling of their licenses by the clubs without assigning any reason. 

Important Championships

On an International Level

Federation Equestre Internationale World Jumping Challenge:  Ajai Appachu, is a distinguished Indian rider to participated in the finals of the Fédération Equestre Internationale World Jumping Challenge in Venezuela.

Korean Racing Authority Gold Cup:  Ajai Appachu also holds the distinction for bagging an individual gold medal in in the Korean Racing Authority Gold Cup jumping event in Seoul.

Olympics:  Imtiaz Anees, an Indian equestrian who participated at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was one rare exception as he was supported by corporate sponsorship.

Asian Games:  India earned the first position in Equestrian Sports in the Asian Games hosted in New Delhi in 1982.

On a National Level

Indian Dressage LeagueThe IDL is an innovative intiative to popularise equestrian sports in the country.  These professional competitions are mainly held in the Dressage discipline and is judged by FEI international judges from Europe at the Grand Prix Level. 

2010: Asian Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

International Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

National Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

Noida Horse Show

National Awards – Horse Sports

2011: Equiwings Horse Show

2012: Asian Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

International Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

National Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

Ghaziabad Horse Show

Equiwings Horse Show

National Awards – Horse Sports

2013: World Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

Asian Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

National Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

Gurgaon Horse Show

National & International Awards – Horse Sports

2014: Equiwings Horse Show

2015; Asian Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

International Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

National Equestrian Tent Pegging Championship

Equiwings Horse Show

Famous Horse Riders

PS Chouhan  He is an accomplished jockey who has crossed the  “1000 Winners” mark.  Only a few jockets have the distinction and skill of crossing this milestone.  Chouhan’s career spans 15 years.

Col G.M. Khan–  He is a former Indian national equestrian who had won the gold medal during the Asian Games in 1982.  In 1984 he was bestowed the Arjuna Award.

Raghubir Singh  He is a famous Indian equestrian who was bestowed the Arjuna Award in 1982 and the Padma Shri in 1983.  He won a gold medal at an individual event in the 1982 Asian Games

S.Padmanabhan– Padmanabhan Is a trainer from Bangalore and a very successful jockey. He is a man who is always up for challenges and won the McDowell Indian Derby in February 2012.

 

Major Deep AhlawatThis exceptional equestrian hails from Sahranpur in Uttar Pradesh and he has won the best duo award along with his horse Mirza at the FEI World Challenge Jumping Show in Kolkata.  Apart from winning a bronze at the Asian Games, he has also won at various European, Pacific and Asian horse riding competitions.  He was bestowed the Arjuna Award in 2004.

On the whole, horse-riding is a regal adventure sport that involves a lot of technique and finesse.  If you know some interesting facts about horse-riding or have a question about this sport, then do feel free to ask us in the comment section below! At YoGems, we have experts who can counsel you on archery and provide you with trainers and instructors who can guide you in this sport.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Shivangi Gupta

Shivangi Gupta is a Content Writer Expert at YoGems. With years of experience in writing blogs, articles and guides, she writes about every sport. Also, she is good at sports and expert in shooting and won numerable awards at various events. She started receiving shooting training under her father at the age of 6. To get updated with her posts, stay tuned to the website.