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The coolest horse sports that you’ve probably never heard of…

There’s no feeling like getting outdoors with your horse on a beautiful summer’s day. But whilst many of us are content with traditional horseback riding activities, the world of equestrian sports is much more diverse, whacky and exhilarating than you may have imagined.

Here at Equestrian Surfaces, we’ve put together a compilation of the most unusual horse-related activities we could find. So whether you’re looking for a new activity to try out this weekend or you just want to marvel at some of the crazy things your fellow equestrians get up to, this one is for you…


Admittedly, you might not be able to try this one out for yourself – at least not this summer, anyway. However, if you find yourself amidst a snowy winter wonderland, skijoring is guaranteed to be an activity you won’t soon forget. 

What is it?
Derived from a Norwegian term meaning ‘to be driven forward,’ skijoring involves wearing a pair of skis and being pulled through the snow by a horse. Skijorers may either go solo, controlling the horse themselves – or pair up with a partner who would ride and rein the horse to keep it under control. 

Where does it come from?
Believe it or not, the practice of strapping blocks of wood to your feet and being pulled along by an animal was first recorded as a mode of transport thousands of years ago in the mountains of Central Asia. This mode of transportation, however, primarily involved dogs rather than horses.

The evolution of this practice into a sport seems to have occurred in Scandinavia in the late 19th or early 20th century. In this version of the sport, athletes were typically pulled by reindeer. It was only later that horses became part of skijoring, with this likely first occurring in France and Poland.

Who practices Skijoring?
This crazy-sounding sport appears to have had a resurgence in recent years – with a number of TikTok videos featuring skiers doing jumps and flips down busy streets, all whilst being pulled along by a horse. 


Tent pegging

Next on our list is tent pegging, an ancient practice that is played all over the world, although is especially popular in India, Australia, South Africa, and some areas of the UK. 

What is it?
Tent pegging sees riders pierce, pick up and carry a target with a lance or a sword as they gallop towards a target. The sport tests the rider’s accuracy, speed and horsemanship.

Where does it come from?
The sport is thought to have originated in the Indian subcontinent during the middle ages. Back then, a cavalier on horseback would aim to precisely stab the flesh behind an enemy elephant toenail. This would cause the elephant to rear, throw his rider off and possibly run amok. This gave cavaliers on horseback an advantage over elephant-mounted enemy troops. 

Today, you’ll be pleased to know that the discipline no longer uses elephant toenails as targets. Instead, common targets include:

  • Lemons – Riders are required to stab or slice lemons that are suspended in the air 
  • Mannequins – Riders are required to attack a specific part of the mannequin
  • Rings – Riders’ weapons should successfully pass through a ring without making contact with it

Who practices Tent Pegging?
Tent Pegging is practised around the world but is especially popular in Australia, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa and certain parts of the UK. It was recognised as an official equestrian discipline in 2004.

Western Dressage

Finally, if you’re looking for an excuse to dress up, this one might be for you! Western Dressage combines historical dressage principles with the best of Western attire, such as button-up shirts, cowboy boots and jeans.

What is it?
The sport is similar to traditional dressage, requiring the same precision and attention to detail. However, Western Dressage uses Western tack and attire, and it emphasises harmony and partnership between horse and rider. The sport has its own unique movements that are designed to showcase the horse’s ability to work cattle, as well as the ability of the rider to manage and direct the horse. There is a huge emphasis on considering the mindset and temperament of the horse. 

Where does it come from?
Western Dressage is a relatively new equestrian discipline but one that has exploded in popularity. Initially founded in 2010 by a group of enthusiasts in Colorado,  it was officially recognised as a discipline in 2013. 

The discipline has evolved in response to the growing recognition that each horse has a unique temperament and individuality. It seeks to respect and honour these qualities in training.

Who practices Western Dressage?
Today, Western Dressage is enjoyed by a broad range of equestrians, not just in the USA but across the world. Indeed, a growing number of hobbyist riders across the world embrace traditional Western culture. In fact, many riders consider this discipline an ‘art form’.


So there we have it…

The world of equestrian sports has more to offer than just the traditional horseback riding activities we’re accustomed to. Here at Equestrian Surfaces, we’re sure no matter what your interests are, there’s something out there that’ll pique your interest.

If you fancy trying something new and exciting this summer, feel free to get in touch with us over on our social media channels – we’d love to see what you and your horse get up to!

Alternatively, if you’re looking to learn more about your horse’s hoof and shoe care – please check out our previous blog here or ring us on 01282 834 970 for award-winning equestrian surface and maintenance solutions.  


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