1. To stay fit
It is amazing how many people think we “just sit there” and “the horse does all the work.” Sure, honey. I’d like to see them leg yield across the long side of the arena and not use any muscles. Or how about the posting trot? Nope, no fitness required there.
2. To relax
For a sport that takes so much time, energy, and money, it is amazing how relaxing it is. At least, when you’re not paying vet bills, cleaning stalls, soaking a lame foot or breaking bones falling of the horse. Ok, on second thought there are probably more relaxing hobbies.
3. Because every day spent in the saddle is a good day
As long as you actually stay in the saddle. Days with unplanned emergency dismounts only count if you’re healthy enough to get back on, trips to the ER notwithstanding. But, otherwise, every day in the saddle is a good day because you’re doing something you love rather than doing something you really should be doing, like work. Unfortunately, work is still required to pay for all those ER visits.
4. For the adrenalin rush
Right before we hit the ground…I mean right before we enter the arena and entrust our lives to a half ton, contrary, animal that may or may not want to kill us depending on how generous we’ve been with the peppermints that morning. There is nothing more thrilling than insanity and impending death or possible paralysis.
5. For the chance to fly
Metaphoric flying, thank you. Not flying through the air because the horse bucked you off again, unless you’re a bronc rider. Then that’s the whole point of getting on the horse in the first place, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish. Wow, this list is really devolving fast.
6. For our hopes
…of living to ride another day, of getting that perfect leg yield, mastering the sidepass, hey we’ll settle for not spooking at every leaf that bears its teeth at us. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
7. For our dreams
… of National Finals Rodeo stardom, of making the next World Equestrian Games, or even the next Olympics for the English inclined. Most of us would settle for the state championships.
8. For the love of the horse
Most of the time…until he shreds another $100 blanket or racks up another $300 vet bill. Then we question ourselves, our sanity, and our purpose in life. We threaten to sell the horse, the tack, the whole lot and throw in our spurs, but then the horse nuzzles us to say he’s sorry and we’re lost all over again.
9. To find some part of ourselves that we thought lost
…the last time we fell off. Maybe if he throws me into the same bush as last time I’ll find the tooth that got knocked out. Oh wait, we’re supposed to be metaphoric and sentimental here. Oops. But, no really, the horses we ride make us better people. They teach us about unconditional love, patience, discipline, insanity, stress, sleepless nights, 2am show morning wakeup calls, and how to blow all your savings every time your half ton fur baby gets a scratch. You know, the important stuff in life.
10. We live to ride
…and we ride to live.
Do we really need any other reason?
Photo by Bhakti2