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xxBarry Godden 11-21-2010 04:17 PM

Men in Horse Riding
Regularly a thread appears on the Forum which asks why most men do not take up the ownership of a horse. I have often wondered about the undoubted fact that horse riding in Britain is predominantly a female sport. It is also a sad fact that over a life time I have been able to convince only three of my male friends to ride and of those only one still rides to this day.

I believe the biggest deterrent to men buying a horse is the commitment of time. Horse ownership, unless one can afford to keep the horse in full livery, is a 24/7 hobby. Men know of other sports such as football, golf, cycling, surfing and cricket which are ‘pick up the kit and go‘. Horses are just so demanding of limited spare time.

There is also the fact that the modern style of classical riding is hard on the male anatomy - especially when one is learning to post to the trot or sit into a canter. In the old days when I learned to ride, one was taught to ride forwards, Littauer style, and a rider’s weight was lifted up off the saddle and partially transferred in times of stress to the stirrup irons and the knees.

Personally I learned to ride late in life. I was in my mid thirties when I first discovered horses but instantly I realised what magnificent creatures horses can be and I have been hooked on them ever since. I very much regret that when I was an impecunious young man there were few stables in central London. Horse riding is an absorbing hobby in which one never ceases to learn. Most sporty men I have met seek adrenaline and that is to be found in racing of all types, team chasing, polo and fox hunting. but there are many cheaper ways for men to get a similar buzz from a demanding sport. Few men would deliberately seek adrenaline by negotiating a busy highway to get a horse across to a pub on the other side of the road as I have been prone to do. However I am not a competitive rider and I prefer my horse to be surefooted and brave rather than competitive. I simply enjoy the company of my horse.

Young women seem to be surprised that so few young men take up the sport but truthfully speaking a young man can more easily seek out the company of young women in bars or at work if it is company that he is looking for. Speaking for myself I can only say that in 36 years of riding horses, no female rider has ever come up to me and winked with a certain smile. In return I have admired a lot of horses when I have not noticed the female owner even when sometimes she was sitting on the horse. There again I am lucky in that nowadays I share the ownership of my horse with my wife who also rides.

There is one other important factor. In the US and Australia horses riding is seen to be a sport for men.. Here in the UK it is definitely seen to be a female dominated sport and that factor alone can change the atmosphere in the stables. Generally speaking men as a group somehow are not quite so ’precious’ and male humour is undeniably different from that of women. Men seem to laugh more easily, particularly in times of stress.

I can envisage men hiring a horse to ride at a weekend but I cannot see many young men buying a horse to keep at a livery yard. A man has to hold down a good secure job to be able to afford to keep a horse. Unlike in rural America in the UK, outside of racing, hoof care and the military, there are few jobs involving horses.

It might help if more young women persuaded their boy friends to have riding lessons but I doubt if men will ever take over the sport in my country. The mail order catalogues are going to be filled with female fashion for decades to come.

Brithorse1996 11-21-2010 04:48 PM

At my riding school one of the leaders is a man and he is in his early 20's, he has his own horse, competes, and knows what he's doing and is really cool. At my old riding school there were 2 boys that rode there, and at my school one boy had a horse but when he moved here from majorca he had to sell it, and I think he was just to upset to take riding up again (I've tried to pursade him) and another boy in my year used to ride until he was like 8. He moved from his home country to here and stopped though. Another of my friends has a sister who owns a horse, and another sister who owns a pony, but he dislikes horses becuase he was forced to help look after them.

I've told some of my guy friends that I ride, and to be honest I get less hassle from them then I do from loads of my girl friends. They are quite impressed actually =P.

I think it might be just peer pressure at my age that stops boys, and then they just loose interest

Brithorse1996 11-21-2010 04:49 PM

^^ sorry for my lack of commas and full stops

xxBarry Godden 11-22-2010 05:49 AM

I have come to the personal opinion that the role of a horse in many owner riders mind, is as a recipient for affection. Many of we humans needs to feel needed and, after a dog or a cat, the horse is an obvious focul point for our affection and the associated emotions. Note that I am not saying that horses feels emotion towards their humans but they do express familiarity and show a tolerance towards a human who cares for them.

In deprived inner city areas you will often see a young man leading round a dog - usually a staffie or a rottie - on a lead rope. The affection towards the dog is mostly genuine. I suspect those same young men would warm towards a horse, if only they had the opportunity and the money to learn to ride.

PaintHorseMares 11-22-2010 06:14 AM


Originally Posted by Barry Godden (Post 824253)
In deprived inner city areas you will often see a young man leading round a dog - usually a staffie or a rottie - on a lead rope. The affection towards the dog is mostly genuine. I suspect those same young men would warm towards a horse, if only they had the opportunity and the money to learn to ride.

Barry, when my old bones are up to a little jog around the neighborhood, I always take a mare along with me. I'm sure it provides a tremendous amount of amusement for people to see a man jogging down the road with a horse on a lead (instead of a dog) :-) As an aside, I do very little ground work with our mares and this is a good reinforcement exercise to keep them working off your shoulder, matching your route and pace (especially after I reach 1/4 mile, start slowing down, and they're all warmed up and ready to pick it up).

xxBarry Godden 11-22-2010 07:32 AM

PHM Well done. If your old bones are still up to jogging - with or without the mare - then they ain't old bones - yet.

PS It is not the bones that give out first - it is the lungs. Nowadays if I move faster than a walk, people think that a steam train is coming.

PaintHorseMares 11-22-2010 07:59 AM


Originally Posted by Barry Godden (Post 824297)
PS It is not the bones that give out first - it is the lungs. Nowadays if I move faster than a walk, people think that a steam train is coming.

Indeed...I know the feeling.

WickedNag 11-22-2010 08:50 AM

I think a lot depends on where you are. Here I see just as many men riding as women but more women in the show ring. Male riders in my area are riding using horses and using them :)

sarahver 11-22-2010 09:07 AM

I often wonder the same thing. Although here in the States, many men compete in events such as roping, penning and bronco/bull riding. Barrel racing seems to be dominated by women.

In Australia (where I grew up) we don't have such a variety of events at a top level, English style disciplines are more common (eventing, jumping, dressage etc) it never ceased to amaze me that you would rarely see men in the lower levels yet we had fantastic upper level male riders. No idea where they all come from, there must be some secret equestrian brotherhood that they all train at and are released just in time to qualify for the Olympics.

Seems to me that there are stereotypes associated with the sport - girls do dressage, boys ride broncos. Not that extreme of course and yes, there are exceptions to every rule. On the whole though, there is definately a trend.

xXEventerXx 12-09-2010 10:22 PM

funny how there arent alot of male riders, but there seem to be more pro male riders than female... I used to ride with a few male riders in cyprus and they didnt ride as long as some as the girls did and they were better riders.

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