In the wake of the highly popular meme trend of “what ___ thinks I do” images that have been appearing across the internet, I decided to write my own opinion piece of what non-horse people think I do. To provide an example of what I mean, here is an example of one of those images:
What my friends think I do:
Most commonly, my friends who know me well know that I jump fences in a set pattern with a focus on not simply ‘going fast’ but instead maintaining an even rhythmic ‘pace’. However, most general acquaintances are only familiar with equitation in the sense that it involves me on a horse doing ‘stuff’.
What society thinks I do:
Society’s general understanding of horseback riding is often fueled by the racing industry. While avid equestrians look up to equestrian stars like McLain Ward and Frank Chapot, your average joe off the street may be more familiar with names like Zenyatta, Barbaro, and horses that often are bet on and televised in crowded bars. While I love and respect the horse racing scene, it does bother me when people come up to me and ask how my ‘race’ went.
What my future spouse will think I do:
Though I am not currently in a relationship, I have had experience hearing the opinions of spouses of equestrians before. Often, one of the most common opinions I have heard is that equestrianism is a waste of money. Instead of buying brand-new off-the-shelf riding apparel, look into local consignment stores which have equally acceptable equipment for much less terrifying prices.
What my trainer thinks I do:
Thankfully, my trainers ( and coaches) are incredible equestrians and have more faith in my riding than I often deserve:
- Nancy Wallis is an incredible New Jersey-based Centenary graduate who teaches out of Duncraven Stables. Nancy is incredibly multi-talented: she teaches students, rides independently, judges competitions, and designs incredible courses.
- Patte Zumbrun is the head coach of the Goucher College varsity equestrian team and has been the director of the equestrian program since 1987 and is currently chair of the American National Riding Commission (ANRC) and a Level V rated rider (highest level). Patte teaches the Forward Riding System, and has laid much of the groundwork that has made me a better and more effective rider.
- Jen Bunty is the assistant coach of the Goucher College varsity equestrian team, and a graduate of Lynchburg College.
What I think I do:
As a tri-captain of the Goucher College equestrian team, I like to think I can jump the moon, find all the best distances, and get mistaken for Laura Chapot on a good day. The truth is, I really only want to be a rock star rider to my team partner CrackerJack. If he is under the false impression that I have half the talent of Laura Chapot, then I must be doing something right.
What I actually do:
The word ‘equitation‘ literally encompasses the concept of working horsemanship. Equitation competition focuses on precision, tactful use of legwork and body position, and done correctly should fool people into thinking riding is easy. Put simply, I do this: