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Equine Sports | Under the Sun Sports | Suntan Sports



The sport of equine has been around for ages under the sun. The suntan rider has needed horses whether it has been for sport, hunting, or for pleasure. It is known that horses lived in North America, but died during the Ice Age. When Columbus made his second voyage in 1493, he brought horses to North America. How long have horses been around? Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a horse that had been ridden along the Don River in Russia about 6,000 years ago. The stallion that had been buried showed teeth wear consistent with using a bit. Today, horses are trained and ridden for many practical reasons such as workers on a cattle ranch, police work and also competitive sports. And unless a horse is in the barn, they are usually under the sun with their master getting tanned.

 

 

Organizations:


The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is based in Texas and is an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Quarter Horse. The Quarter Horse is a breed known for its ability to sprint short distances. The organization began in 1940 and today boasts of approximately 350,000 members. Under this association horses are shown in numerous events, such as: halter, western (pleasure, reining and cutting), English riding (hunt seat, hunter under saddle, working hunter and hunter hack). The largest annual world show is in Oklahoma City every November. Another large horse division is the American Paint Horse Association, also based out of Texas. This organization hosts several events throughout the year from world-class competition to recreational riding.  There are other horse organizations like the Arabian Horse Association, National Cutting Horse Association, American Miniature Horse Association and the National Barrel Horse Association, too. Fox hunting and trail riding are examples of non-competitive horse recreation.


Owners of show horses, no matter what the breed, must take care of their animals when out in the sun. Horses can get sunburned, too. In the summer the horses are kept in their stalls when they are not in the show ring, out of the hot sun and away from the flies. Normally show horses are pampered quite a bit more than pet horses. In the winter they are covered with blankets and sheets not only to keep them warm, but because the covering will keep their hair from growing and be better for show.


Competitions:


Barrel Racing was originally an event at the rodeo designed for women and the men did their roping and riding on bulls. The Girl’s Rodeo Association (GRA) was developed in 1948 by women from Texas which started out with only 74 members and began taking part in various rodeo events. In 1981 the GRA was changed to the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) and is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. However, name change or not, barrel racing was always the most popular event. Barrel racing is a timed event by either a laser system or an electric eye and time begins when rider and horse start off by running at top speed across the start line, through the barrel pattern set with three actual barrels (fifty-five gallon metal or plastic drums that are placed in a triangle in the center of the arena) and back across the finish line. This pattern is called a “cloverleaf”. Winner of this event is dependent of several things: 1) the rider’s horsemanship abilities, 2) the ground (sand or dirt or mud in the arena area), and 3) the horse itself (physical condition). This event calls for both the rider and horse to have really good athleticism for maneuvering around the barrels.


Dressage is believed to date back to the Renaissance Period in history when European trainers and riders developed a training system that was done in a sequential order. Dressage experienced very little change through the years. In earlier European time, aristocrats would show off their horses in equestrian pageants. This is an international sport that ranges from the beginner to the participant in the Olympics. Competitions focus on movements and may start with the local communities in an introductory level class where there is only walking and trotting. Advancement through levels with testing and increasing difficulty at each level will put the most accomplished horse and rider ready for the Grand Prix levels, such as the Olympic game.


Endurance is an equestrian sport for long-distance races. There are two types of long-distance riding: competitive trail riding, and endurance rides. The winning horse in the endurance ride is the first one to cross the finish line. A veterinary stops the riders periodically to make sure the horse is fit to continue the race. The United States has endurance rides for 50 or 100 miles in length. The limited distance competition is shorter rides for the newer riders to the sport and young horses that are being trained in the sport. The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) authorizes and supports the endurance rides. The horses that are in the competitions are generally many different breeds however the Arabian usually does the best because it is a natural when it comes to endurance. The competitive trail riding is when riders go for 15 to 40 miles down marked trails and go on for one to three days. The horse is judged on its performance, manners and how well it works with its rider.


English Pleasure can also be called English riding where the horse is either ridden hunt seat (common at American horse shows where the rider is forward seat riding) or saddle seat (the trotting action of certain horse breeds). English pleasure competition riding is when horses perform as a group, showing off their best walk, trot and canter. The horses are judged on their performance, manners, quality and conformation (the horse’s bone and muscular make-up in proportions). The judges will penalize the horse if it does not respond willingly to the rider’s requests, does not move straight and with a steady rhythm, have a flowing stride or just travels too fast.


Horse Racing has been around since early Roman times with the chariot races. The first racetrack was built on Long Island in 1665 and thus the beginning of organized horse racing. By the year 1890 there were 314 tracks functioning. The American Jockey Club was organized in 1894. The process of taking bets, calculation odds and paying out winnings was called bookmaking. During World War II the horse racing business grew steadily stronger and became very popular when the horses began running in the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes).


Hunter is a show horse that is judged on its movement, manners and in particular, jumping fences. The horses wear hunt seat tack and are normally Thoroughbreds. A good show hunter has an excellent jumping form and stays perfectly straight while going over the fence while the back is up (almost like a dolphin jumping out of the water) and the head actually reaching forward and down over the fence. The horses are well groomed and clean with a shiny coat. Their hooves are polished; head is trimmed (whiskers trimmed around the muzzle, hair in the ears, the bridle path and the lower jaw).


Reining is a western riding sport where the riders take their horses on a lope/gallop through a pattern of circles, spins and stops. The horse must be extremely in tune and exact precision with its rider and they are judged on the horse’s ability to move in the set pattern of movements. The horse must move with little resistance, cannot pin its ears back, or refuse to go forward or display a poor attitude. The reining is a very entertaining sport to watch. The horse performs large fast circles at a gallop and smaller slow circles at a lope. Most of these circles require a flying change of lead. The horse will go from a gallop to an immediate sliding stop.


Rodeo is a sport that came out of working the cattle during herding in Spain and Mexico and later in North and South America and Australia. It required skills of the working Spanish cowboys and then later the cowboys in western United States. One of the largest rodeos is the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show which is held every year in San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Rodeos have events such as tie-down roping, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding and barrel racing. The professional rodeos are sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). Rodeos are in their competitive season from spring to fall with the peak being July 4th weekend.


Show Jumping goes along with the English riding family and also includes dressage, hunters and equitation. Jumping is often seen at the horse shows, but also at the Olympics. The United States Equestrian Federation sanctions the jumping classes. The course for the jumpers contains obstacles, including verticals and double and triple combinations with turns and changes of direction. The horse and rider jump cleanly over this set course of the obstacles within a certain amount of time. The competitors use a very forward style of English saddle that is flatter than regular saddles so the riders can lean down very close to their horse.


Steeplechase is horse racing usually in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, France, Canada and Ireland. The word “Steeplechase” began in Ireland in the 18th century when the races went from church steeple to church steeple. The two forms of Steeplechasing (or jumps racing) in the United States are national fences and timber racing. National fences are the type of hurdles and stand four feet six inches tall at the highest point and are normally made up of “fake” brush so the horses can pass through without injury. Horses are trained to jump in a regular stride and maintain its speed upon landing. Timber racing has solid and immovable wooden rail fences that can be five feet high. These courses are longer than national fences and will range from three to four miles long. These race horses are trained to jump with an arc (almost like a hurdle racer) because of the fence being so tall. Some of the timber races in the United States are the Colonial Cup in South Carolina; the Virginia and International Gold Cup held in Old Tavern, Virginia; and the Maryland Hunt Cup.


Western Pleasure is a competition at horse shows that determines the horse’s manners, relaxed gait, and its calm and responsive disposition. The horse carries a western saddle, wears an open-faced bridle and has been washed and groomed. The rider in this competition class will usually wear a long sleeved shirt, sometimes with a vest or a jacket (usually brightly colored), chaps, cowboy hat and cowboy boots. At small shows, jeans are worn under the chaps, but in regional and national shows, western styled polyester dress pants are worn. The horses are trained to sustain slow and controlled movements. The judges show more favoritism to the American Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses and the Appaloosas.

 

Do you have horses or love to ride? Maybe you have visited an awesome dude ranch that is under the sun? Rode horses on the beach? We would love to hear all of your stories, so please write to us: Suntan Crew.


-Ms. Suntan


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