Colleges Should Include Equestrian Athletics in Fitness and Wellness Programs

A few days ago, I was working out in my college gym when I happened to notice a sign promoting the sailing club. The sign said that sailing was free to all students and that the club aimed to expose as many students as possible to sailing. Realizing that my school is so supportive of the sailing club makes me somewhat jealous because as a dedicated equestrian and a member of the equestrian club (which is certainly not free) at the same school, I do not feel that my college is as supportive of equestrian athletics as they are supportive of other recreational activities. I thought to myself, I don’t see how exposing people to sailing could be any more educationally or physically beneficial than exposing them to horses. A little green-eyed, I went home to conduct my own investigation of my school’s fitness and wellness program. I found that it strives to promote positive, healthy lifestyles through physical activity and educational programs. They also claim to provide a selection of diverse fitness opportunities. With this mission statement in mind, I believe that colleges should include equestrian athletics in their fitness and wellness programs for three reasons. First, contrary to what most people believe, horseback riding is an exercise. It improves physical capabilities such as core strength and cardiovascular endurance. Secondly, a properly structured educational horse riding program has the power to teach discipline and confidence. Lastly, horseback riding has psychological benefits. One of these benefits is stress relief which can improve students’ overall well being.

If you are a non-horse rider, but have ever been horseback riding just once, I can promise that you were sore the next day. Horseback riding conditions muscles that even the most polished athletes didn’t know they had. Imagine incorporating that type of physical stimulation into your exercise regimen. Horseback riding is a non-conventional way to get students physically active and adding equestrian athletics to a college’s fitness and wellness program is undoubtedly beneficial.I can’t help but giggle a little when I hear people use the phrase, “Were you raised in a barn,” in a negative tone. As a graduating senior I have now truly come to value my discipline and determination. I credit these two attributes to my riding instructor who, in fact, raised me in a barn. Falling and then getting back on as well as losing and then training to win have filled me with confidence and professionalism. I am a living example of how a properly structured educational horse riding program has the power to make personal differences in students. Promoting discipline and confidence would be beneficial campus wide. No more students late to class, eh?

Aside from the physical and educational benefits gained from equestrian activities, there are also psychological benefits. Examples of these psychological benefits are stress relief, happiness, purpose, team building, trust, and more. All of these side effects of riding will contribute to overall emotional well being of students.I am thankful for my school and take pride in being a graduate. I know that if they added an equestrian athletic program it would be accompanied by exceptional sports that already exist there. The only explanation I could come up with for why my school isn’t as supportive of equestrian athletics in the fitness and wellness program is that they don’t understand yet how physically, educationally, and psychologically beneficial it could truly be.