For passionate horse lovers, it means greatest happiness to sit on the back of their four-legged friend. Riding is sport, there is no arguing about that. But riding is much more, for a horse is anything but a "normal" piece of sports equipment. When riding, you don't just excercise fitness and balance, but also discover beautiful landscapes and hang out with a real friend.
Originally, horses were the ultimate means of transport and work facilitation.
Whether in the saddle, in a coach or on a sleigh – with the power of horses you reached your destination much faster than on foot. The strong animals also helped with agricultural and forestry work.
Nowadays – at least in the industrial countries – the handling of horses has largely shifted to the sports, leisure and therapy sectors.
Most horses have three basic gaits: walk, trot and canter (gallop). The gaits differ in speed (e.g. canter and gallop), but also in the order in which a horse places its legs on the ground.
Some breeds are able to perform two additional gaits apart from the three main ones. Toelt and pace can be found especially with Icelandic horses – but also with some American Saddlebreds, Berbers and Peruvian Pasos.
Equestrian sports are a quite expensive and time-consuming affair – especially if you want to practise them with your own horse. Unlike normal sports equipment, horses need suitable accommodation, regular checks by a veterinarian and a farrier, and intensive care and attention from the owner.
However, there are countless offers for beginners and everyone without a horse. Riding stables offer group or individual lessons and guided ride outs. Guests that are staying on a holiday farm, often have the possibility to meet the animals, too.
When on vacation, a riding trip can become an unforgettable experience – for example when cantering at the beach, following the traces of Cowboys in the American West or with the robust and friendly Icelandic horses on the eponymous island.