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Rider Insider: Bring in the Newbies

What would you do to get more people involved in horses?

April 1, 2013

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Bring in Newbies You've undoubtedly heard people in the equine industry lament the dwindling interest in horses in America. Horseback riding is competing with more accessible school-sponsored sports and activities—not to mention the ever-present video games and other indoor pastimes—for the limited attention of younger generations. Meanwhile, adults who want to ride often believe it's too dangerous or too expensive to get involved with horses when work and household responsibilities are already so demanding.

Suburban sprawl has taken over much of the land that used to be hayfields and horse country. Zoning laws keep horses out of residential areas in some places, which means that many people rarely see horses, much less have access to them.

The stereotype of equestrians as elitist, snobby and filthy rich persists even as research has shown that most horse owners' household incomes are close to the average for all Americans. Many people who don't have a personal connection to the horse world believe that in order to ride, they must own a horse, and in order to own a horse, they must have a barn and pasture in the backyard.

Introducing new people to the wonderful world of horses has become an uphill battle. For this month's Rider Insider, we want you to share your solutions. How would you help get non-riders interested in horses and riding? How would you combat the stereotypes about our sport and get newcomers out to lesson barns or trail stables to see what it's really all about?

Click "Submit a Comment" below and share your thoughts. Some of the responses may be selected for a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

Noble Equine Throughout 2013, Noble Equine will be sponsoring the Rider Insider column in Horse Illustrated with a prize for the selected featured response. If you'd like to be considered for a prize, make sure to include your contact info in the email field of the contact form (emails will not be publicly displayed.)

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Reader Comments

Abrie    Poulsbo, WA

2/1/2014 5:54:58 PM

I only started riding a year ago, but before that I didn't think of the stereotypes but only of the horses. Once I did start riding I realized that when people asked me what I did for fun that riding horses was either too snobby a sport or too dirty. My love for horses overshadows others doubts and I have showed my friends and family that horses are wonderful to be around.

Brandy    Burbank, OH

7/10/2013 10:01:40 PM

I introduce all my non-horsey friends to horses by simply letting them come to the barn with me, pet the horses, get them out and brush them, teach them little things about the horse and kinda let the person bond. Then they normally get curious and want to ride so we go out and right before I give them a little lesson and they catch on. They then begin to relize how relaxing and amazing it is to control and bond with an astounding creature thats capable of so much and they want to continue!

M S    Etna, CA

6/5/2013 12:10:19 AM

I think the very best way to introduce people to the world of horses is to ride! It's a simple as that. Ride your horse into town. Bring your horse to events. Stop and say hello while riding. So many people have never seen or touched a horse. Just introducing them to the scent and presence of such an amazing animal is bound to foster interest.

Kennedi    Pierceton, IN

5/21/2013 3:05:08 PM

I know a lot of people who will argue that riding isn't a sport. I just have to tell them that, like any other sport, you shed blood, sweat, and tears; you start work in the early morning and you finish up when it's dark; you spend your weekdays training and your weekends competing. But at the end of the day, we horse enthusiasts realize that our sport is the most amazing of all. We get to ride off into the sunset with our horse: our partner, our best friend, the one we've trained and the one who trained us. And in those moments, the sore joints, the early mornings, the late nights and the time and money spent all seem to drift out of our minds. In the end, everything is worth it.

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