Equitation is the art of horse riding, a specialty within equestrian sports, and both the rider and the horse are evaluated.
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Criteria cover the rider’s performance and control of the horse, use of riding aids, proper attire, and usually the balance factor of the rider, as well as the cleanliness and polish of the horse, rider, and equipment.
A good equitation rider is always in balance with the horse, maintains a correct position at every gait, at every movement, or over a fence, and possesses a commanding yet relaxed presence, capable of leading the horse with virtually no aids.
It is an equestrian specialty that is usually treated both as an art and a sport and the athletes’ practice. If they are women, riders (men) must prove their riding skills by overcoming various challenges that depend on each competition.
In the equestrian sports discipline, examinations are carried out to evaluate the excellent work of riders and horses. These tests assess the rider’s position and posture while riding and relate to the animal.
Therefore, a close relationship must be established between the two participants because the better the relationship, the better the results.
The International Equestrian Federation is the body in charge of establishing the rules of the competitions and setting the evaluation criteria.
It should be noted that equitation is present in the Olympic Games through three disciplines. Equestrian jumping (the rider must guide the horse to jump over certain obstacles in particular).
Dressage (the animal must execute the rider’s orders in a balanced and harmonious manner) and the entire course (which combines equestrian jumping, dressage, and cross-country modality).
According to several studies, horseback riding is a sport that benefits human beings since it helps improve posture, tones muscles, burns calories, strengthens the cardiovascular system, and minimizes stress.
However, it also has its detractors since it requires the domination and deprivation of the freedom of another living being.
In recent years, there have been numerous debates about the ethics of this sport. As with other disciplines where animals are tortured for the amusement of human beings, horsemanship has been called into question.
Let’s analyze it from a biological point of view. We can intuit that it is not natural for one species to obey another, especially since, in this case, it is not a decision in which the interest of both is taken into account, but only that of the dominant one.
Apart from that, and although nowadays training methods have become less aggressive, the intention to dominate and demand obedience from a species that would naturally be indifferent to us is, at the very least, questionable.
Riding involves certain risks for the animals. The training demands to which they are exposed are sometimes physically exhausting.
Still, in many cases, they are given certain supplements to improve their performance, which (and especially their abuse) lead to physical ailments and health problems in the long term.
On the other hand, even without the equipment used for this activity (the saddle, the brakes, and the spurs), the discomfort and ailments caused to horses in this exchange are common knowledge.
And, despite attempts to maintain certain secrecy around the subject, numerous documents clarify how dangerous the equestrian world can be for horses.