The Equestrian Lifestyle in A Nutshell

What People Might Think

There are many misconceptions that swirl around what equestrians are actually doing. I, Bayleigh Carpenter, have been riding since I was seven years old and I am now the ripe age of twenty years old. I received my first pony for Christmas when I was seven, and that’s where the love story began.  Ever since I can remember horses and farm life have been a massive portion of my everyday life. Having livestock and horses teaches you so much about life skills and prepares you for so many things you never would have thought. For example, farmers and equestrians basically never take days off. Pretty much no matter the weather conditions or what’s going on in your life, the animals always have to come first. This is a crucial life skill that I never knew that I needed.

The Lifestyle of an Equestrian

Although I showed some other livestock while growing up, horses were always my biggest passion. It is not just a hobby for me, it is a really in-depth sport. There is so much physical and mental training that goes into riding in training horses. While in college, I have one horse here that I board at a local stabling facility that is about 15 minutes from Central Washington University’s main home campus. This location is extremely convenient for me and makes it really easy for me to continue the sport that I love.

My Lovely Horse

Quincy and I at the Devonwood Equestrian Center in Sherwood, Oregon. 

My horse, Quincy, is a 17-year-old American Warmblood gelding that I have had for about one year. Here he and I are pictured after a big show this summer. He is by far the best horse I have ever had and I am so fortunate that him and I could come together with such an amazing partnership. I have never felt such a great connection before him and will be so sad when he has to retire someday! He has so much personality and is always a polite gentleman for his girl.

My Training Schedule

My life as an equestrian usually consists of riding about four to five times per week and taking one or two lessons per week from a highly respected trainer that owns the stables where I keep Quincy. We train a lot because riding horses takes an extreme level of body muscle memory as well as actual physical fitness and mental/physical coordination, all while trying to communicate this to your partner that does not have any clue what you might be saying. But, it is also an extremely rewarding sport because of the high difficulty level. My goal as an equestrian is to eventually become a dressage trainer and possibly compete in the Olympics or at least in a really high level of competition.

 

Here are at least 5 questions I get asked on the regular about being an Equestrian:

1. Don’t horses bite and kick you all the time?

No way! Most horses are generally pretty docile and it’s only mistreated or foul-tempered horses that lash out aggressively.

2. Don’t you just sit there while the horse does all the work?

Actually, not at all. It’s actually extremely physically demanding to ride a horse, especially if you were going to do it effectively and look good doing it!

3. Aren’t horses like crazy expensive?

It really depends. Just like a lot of things, like cars for example, there are less nice ones for less money, and really nice ones for more money. But of course, there are all kinds of factors that play into the pricing of horses. They can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars!

4. Does your horse come when called like a dog?

Actually, mine does. He knows his name and he knows it’s me when I call him, so often times he is happy to come over to me from the other end of his field. But, a lot of horses don’t necessarily do the same thing! There are actually lot of horses that know a bunch of tricks that even my horse doesn’t know! Horses really are some of the smartest creatures I have ever known.

5. Aren’t you scared of falling off?

Of course! That’s always a concern, but the hard part about horses is that if you fall off, it’s pretty much a cardinal rule that you absolutely must get back on if you are physically able to. This is actually quite interesting because it’s honestly a life skill. You get bucked off, and you jump right back on to try again until you succeed. Sometimes falls can be really dangerous but generally, people just get a few bruises or scrapes. You’re not a true equestrian if you haven’t fallen off lots of times, it’s definitely part of the learning experience!

 

Why Non-Equestrians Should Still Care

Overall, I would recommend anyone who is able to ride a horse and do it as a sport and a hobby to do so. Being an equestrian has been one of the most memorable and sentimental keepsakes in my childhood toolbox that I know I won’t ever forget. I suppose horses aren’t for everyone, and that’s totally okay, but I encourage all people to at least attain a little knowledge about us equestrians because it really is a crazy amazing sport.  Also, with more knowledge in the field of horses, we can prevent more horse trailer accidents and horse-related accidents by being more informed together. Don’t forget to kiss your friendly neighborhood horses next time you get a chance, for me.