It's competition season, but if you fancy trying your hand at something other than the usual suspects, check out these activities…
1. Side Saddle
This is enjoying something of a revival since it virtually died out in the 1920s, when it was no longer deemed unladylike to ride astride. The National Side Saddle Show takes place from 31 July-2 August at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire. With over 70 classes, it’s free for spectators. Why not see if it tickles your fancy? Visit The Side Saddle Association website at www.sidesaddleassociation.co.uk for more information and to discover how to get involved with the sport.
Not for the faint-hearted, horseboarding is an up-and-coming sport in which a horse rider tows a board rider along on a mountain board. It’s a multi-discipline sport that tests the skills of both the rider and the boarder – not to mention the horse! There are two disciplines — horseboarding drag race, in which teams compete to be the fastest, and arena horseboarding, in which competitors negotiate a series of obstacles. You’ll find details of how to get involved at www.horseboardinguk.org.
Clicking at slow-moving cars, ‘trotting’ to the shop, rocking a rider tan and using all your annual leave on going…
Mediaeval re-enactment is perennially popular and horses are often involved in battle re-enactments or tournaments. If this floats your boat, visit The Mediaeval Combat Society at www.themcs.org to see how you can get involved. If you just fancy trying your hand at the jousting (and frankly, who wouldn’t), then The Knights of Middle England, near Warwick, offer jousting experience days for people with any level of riding experience. Check out their website www.knightsofmiddleengland.com.
4. Horseback archery
Historically originating from the people of the Steppe region — the Mongols, Turks, Sythians, Samartians and Huns — this military art was turned into an equestrian sport, but really only practiced in Japan and Korea where the Steppe traditions live on. The Horseback Combat Centre, in Hertfordshire, is the first and only dedicated horseback archery training and competition centre in the UK. They offer courses from beginners’ weekends, to a half day course at £95 per person. Visit the website at www.horsebackcombat.co.uk.
A fast and furious game played on horseback where points are scored by shooting a ball through a hoop, horseball is a combination of polo, rugby and basketball. It’s rapidly growing in popularity in the UK and is one of the ten disciplines officially recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports. There are a number of demos you can go along to this summer if you’re interested in getting involved – you’ll find details on the British Horseball Association’s website at www.britishhorseball.co.uk
6. Rodeo riding
‘Get off your horse and drink your milk!’ You too can make like John Wayne and try your hand at being a Western cowgirl or cowboy, right here in the UK. The British Rodeo Cowboys Association in Fawkham, Kent, offers training and competitions in all Western riding disciplines from neck-reining to working with cattle. More laidback riders can simply enjoy trail riders. Upcoming events include a rodeo on 1-2 Aug and a cattle clinic on 5 Sept. Visit their website at www.rodeocowboys.org.uk for more information.