Horse riding is a collection of unique equestrian sports. From dressage to show jumping, we can show in many ways how athletic are the co-working rider and horse. The National Equestrian Federation (FEI) approves competitions such as: show jumping, WKKW, dressage, reining, horse trekking, and vaulting. However, the equestrian world is full of diversity and there is plenty of interesting, and sometimes eccentric competitions.
[embed][/embed] Icelandic horse is one of the hardiest breeds of horses. A thousand years of living in raw and cold climate shaped two-layered pelage, extremely strong legs, and hard hooves in these horses. They have no trouble moving on the ice. Competition checks the speed of 2 additional walks of this race: four-stroke tölta, and two-stroke pace. Tölt is a gait which horses use since birth and it is characterised by a remarkable acceleration. The sequence of steps is the same as in walk, but it varies in speed and the way horse places the steps. It is very convenient and stable, as at least one leg remains on the ground. Pacing is a gait in which the legs move once on the right side, and once on the left side, and not every Icelandic horse is able to perform it. The speed may go up to 50km/h. The race is held on track made on ice during the Horse On Ice competition, during the European Championships of Icelandic Horses. The competition has its strict rules of using equipment and protection of the hoofs, and the horses' welfare is controlled by the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Association. The Icelandic horses' balance is sure to be envied!
[embed][/embed] Some of us may have heard stories about the possibility of creating a bond with a wild horse, which is not an easy task. Is it possible to domesticate it in 100 days? Nothing simpler! In order to increase the number of mustangs adoption, the Mustang Heritage Foundation in Texas created a special competition. The participants, in order to win, have to train a horse in 100 days and present the results in the Freestyle programme. The prize for first place oscillates around $25,000-$50,000. Horses that after 100 days appear in the hall full of people are usually calm, bucketed, or even lead on a single rope, the so called cordeo. In addition, they show tricks which they've learnt during their makeover - from laying down to jumping to the racing car. Horses with new abilities soon find buyers, and their trainers' creativity seems to have no limits.
[embed][/embed] These are competitions not only for children, but it is also a very fast sport for young and adult people. Mounted Games ponies measure up to 152cm. It is a team game, where particular teams have their own track and compete with others to have the best times during particular task, and that may be: sticking a disc on a pike and passing it to the next contestant. The make-up of a team usually consists of 5 riders and horses, starting one after another on a parallel to each other tracks. The winner would be the team which will have the best aggregate time of all minor races. World Championships are held annually. The Pony Games competitions which are popular mainly in England, France, and Germany are more and more fierce.
[embed][/embed] They perform all over the world, but they are particularly popular in Portugal. They show their dressage abilities, and the skills needed to work in the region. Special emphasis is placed on elements which may be useful in work at farms and at cattle grazing, and those are: opening gates, fast riding in narrow passages, going backwards in a tunel, quick reversing. Dressage work in Portugal is shown in form of ride to the music in the traditional doma vaquera style, and some of the competitions are performed on time. More experienced horses must be lead with one hand. You can see the very well trained Lusitanos.
[embed][/embed] Organised in mountain areas path is a prowess trial exclusively for the Hutsul breed of horses. The first part consists of assessing the breeding of young horses on the board. The next part is to overcome the 1500m-2000m route with a rider on the back in a set time or pace. The path assesses the horse's abilities of handling with a difficult, mountain ground. Horse must overcome a lot of obstacles: log, steep hill downwards, riding on a wooden catwalk above a ditch, straight rails and oxers, narrow and low passages, riding through water, labyrinth, gate, or windfall. Most of the way is ran in a gallop, and the riders try to get the best times. The horses are perfect for rides on the steep hillsides. However, just observing them during a job in tough circumstances can raise your levels of adrenaline.
[embed][/embed] Peruvian horses of the Paso Fino breed take part in original championships. They have the unusual natural gaits: the slowest, classic paso fino, the middle, working paso corto, and the quickest paso largo. During competitions, the horses have to inter alia make a slalom between obstacles in an even, slow paso fino, and then walk through a wooden catwalk, hitting their hooves with the biggest frequency possible. The steps must be as short as possible. Losing fluency of movement, pace, or cadence is marked negatively. Performing this gait requires high focus from the horse. These steeds, due to their build and gaits, are very comfortable for riders.
[embed][/embed] If you lack any coordination challenges that horseriding offers, maybe it is worth to add archery to it? World Horseback Archery Championships are held in South Korea, in which Polish team achieved gold medal in 2013. The next great Polish success was Norbert Kopczyński's World Championship in 2014. The first competition "One Shoot" is about the most accurate shot to the single target. The horse runs on a 120 meter lane, and the target is placed 90 m away from the start. Contestants must finish the lane in 15 seconds in the case of adults, and in 18 seconds in the case of children. The next one - "Fast Shoot" is played with two targets in a distance of 60 m and 90 m from the start, on the same lane and in the same time. In order to target the second target, the rider must turn back during riding. The last competition "Succesive Shot" takes place on a route of 160 m, with 5 targets placed every 30 m. The time limit is only 20 seconds for adults and 25 seconds for children, so you have to be quick with putting arrows on the bowstring!
[embed][/embed] Wrocławski Tor Wyścigów Konnych (The Racecourse in Wrocław) initiated in 2014 the first National Championship in Riding Without Bridles. 17 horses were put in for various disciplines: jumping, dressage, and western. The competition aims to encourage the more delicate contact and it gathered a lot of people interested in it. The competitions are to be held annually, and following the Wrocławski Tor in Sopot, the Bridleless Baltic Cup started to be organised, where rope halters are allowed. Shall we see any Andrzej Sałacki successors? Who knows.
[embed][/embed] If someone needs a break from the saddle or wants to lighten his or her horse, they can try an innovative video-competition Horse Agility, modeled on the Dog Agility. The horse needs to overcome obstacles similar to those which are four-legged friends have to, namely: tunnels, labyrinths, slaloms, platforms, jumps, and many others. Competitions are organised by The International Horse Agility Club in 6 classes, and are evaluated on the basis of the set video sent by the participants.
[embed][/embed] To fans of winter craze and folklore, I recommend to take part in the vernacular competitions. The spectacular races in light sleighs are held in the Zakopane's neighbourhood. They are teamed by the ethnic highlanders - Kumort and Kumoszka, dressed in the traditional folksy clothes. The man team the horse during race, and the woman - usually his wife, balance her body so the sleigh doesn't fall out of the track. What is more, skiring and ski-skiring competitions are held simultaneously. While ski-skiring is well-known for its towing both the rider and the horse on skis, the skiring is a variation of skiing, where we team the towing horse on our own. And that's all happening at crazy speed.
Fans of the show jumping will be pleased with the new look of their favourite riders. In the charity competition organised by Charlotte Casiraghi, CSI 5* and CSI 1* riders take part. Ten teams compete with each other in the untypical outfits and to their own music, in a show jumping course on time. There are a lot of bizarre costumes, and the income from the competition is donated to the International Society of Friends of Children. On Gucci Masters Style & Competition for Amade you can see stars like Charlotte Dujardin or Jessica Springsteen.
Would you like to take part in one of this kind on a riding camp?