Teacher, Students Ride Horses for a Sport

Photo from Rita ChapmanChapman rides her horse, Meta, in an arena.
Photo from Rita Chapman
Chapman rides her horse, Meta, in an arena.

Moriah Boyce
Contributing Writer

“I rode from when I was in fifth grade until 10th grade. I loved feeling one with the horse. Some people say that horseback riding isn’t a sport, but you actually have to work on moving one with the horse, which requires a lot of thigh strength,” said senior Addie Conway.

“Horseback riding is therapeutic, helps get and keep you fit, and it’s nice to spend time with your horse,” said junior Ana Chapman.

Rita Chapman, English teacher, and Ana Chapman, her daughter, both enjoy horseback riding. About how she got into horseback riding, Rita Chapman said, “My dad took me for a pony ride when I was five or six, and I was hooked. I started taking riding lessons not too long after that, and I also rode my friends’ horses. I didn’t have one of my own as a kid.”

Ana Chapman said when she was seven, her mother was riding horses, and she has always loved it.

Mrs. Chapman rides horses competitively occasionally, but Ana just rides them for a hobby. What riders get out of riding changes depending on what they are riding for, competition or a hobby.

Rita Chapman said she likes to see the progress in her training and her horse’s training as they get better scores and compete at higher levels. She added she really likes horse shows, as they are a fun atmosphere.

Mrs. Chapman rides her ex-racehorse, Meta,  that she boards in a place in Illinois, and Ana rides at Rocky Ranch, which she likes, although not as much as Prairie Oaks, which was her favorite, but it closed down. Mrs. Chapman likes the place that she boards her horse because it takes good care of Meta when Mrs. Chapman can’t be out there. This is important to her since she is so busy.

Horseback riding lessons each week costs about $30/hour. Once riders own a horse though, it starts getting a lot more expensive. Mrs. Chapman said, “Boarding a horse can run from about $300/month on the low end to a more typical $400, and up to $1000/month in a serious competition barn. On top of the lessons, vey bills, the farrier every few weeks, supplies… it adds up fast! The price of the horse itself is only a small start.”

When riders get into competitive horseback riding, the cost can go up greatly. It all depends on the level of competition. Some local shows cost less than $100/show, the big national shows like the ones out at the National Equestrian Center in Lake St. Louis will cost several hundred dollars for two or three days of showing. Those who compete for national titles have to travel to shows out of state and work with more expensive trainers also. The horses themselves can cost from $1,000 to even $250,000.

However, if riding at the college level, it can be fairly inexpensive. In the “Intercollegiate league” riders don’t have to own a horse because the “hosting institution” provides the horses for the show, but they have to show on a horse that they have only three minutes to get to know. The only costs at this level are for the lessons and athletic fees.

About what advice she’d give to someone who wants to get into horseback riding, Mrs. Chapman replied, “Find a good, reputable barn to begin lessons at. Ask around—the better places are generally more expensive, but if you want to compete, it is worth it. Be sure to ask safety questions—whether everyone has to wear a helmet and proper shoes, etc. If they say no, that’s a big red flag.”

Mrs. Chapman said if one wants to ride as a hobby he or she should take some lessons and rent horses to trail ride. There are actually several places around here where one can do this.

If wanting to ride competitively, riders need to research the trainers who specialize in the specific type of riding that they want to do and decide what they can afford. They should get the best they can budget for. Even though sometimes it can seem like a secret society, ask people who have horses. The bulletin board at local tack stores (The Golden Horseshoe in Eureka) is a great resource, also.

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