Finding New Friends in the Horse World
by Kim Roe
I recently returned from a judge’s seminar for the relatively new equestrian sport of working equitation. It was five days of intensive training hosted by Working Equitation United and taught by two Portuguese men who judge for the World Association of Working Equitation. There were about 20 of us there, learning and working toward various levels of licensing. People came from around the United States and Canada; one woman came all the way from Australia.
On the first day, we all stood briefly to introduce ourselves. I noticed that many of us were about the same age, had similar backgrounds, and were interested in Working Equitation for the same reason. Most of us who attended are professional dressage trainers and coaches, but we grew up riding western, working on cattle ranches, trail riding in the mountains, and riding working horses of one form or another. We love dressage, but are especially excited about a sport that allows us to do obstacle work and have fun with a little speed. We are looking for something different.
The end result was that after five days I felt like I had gained 20 new good friends. We hit it off, to say the least, and spent a lot of time laughing and having meaningful conversations about horses, family, being in the equestrian business, and so on.
This experience made me think about why horse people choose particular activities with our horses. We flow toward certain sports or disciplines that suit our personalities, and there we often find like-minded folks we enjoy hanging out with. It’s a win-win — having fun with our horses and making new friends.
It doesn’t matter how we choose to play with our horses; the reward is in the doing. My new-found love for working equitation has given me fresh goals and breathed excitement into my training program. It’s helping my students, whether they are interested in working equitation or not, simply because their coach is happy, motivated, and learning.
This is our Sports and Recreation issue and I want to encourage you to get out and enjoy horse activities — whether you have a horse or not. Auditing and spectating at clinics, horse shows, and exhibitions can be really enjoyable and educational too. Whatever your dreams — reach for them.