Iarina, a 9th grade student, loves horses and competed for the first time in a competition organized by the Romanian Equestrian Federation. She won 1st place in both tests and enjoyed the success with tears in her eyes, after months of training that taught her how important it is to be empathetic with the animal, to work in a team and to synchronize movements, but also to exceed her limits, both physical and emotional.
We invite you to read her story and find out more about her passion for riding and what are the most important lessons learned by practicing this sport.
The first time I rode a big horse was when I was 8 years old. I had ridden ponies a few times before, but at this age I started taking my first riding lessons. I fell in love with horses from the very first moment. My grandfather also contributed to this love, since he was a veterinarian and rode to work.
Although I didn’t go regularly and it was more of an activity for when the weather was nice, I really enjoyed the lessons and the training. At the age of 10, I fell off my horse for the first time and sprained my knee, and because of that I couldn’t ride for another year. However, I was not afraid and I was eager to get back in the saddle. Gradually, I began to learn how to fall, which helped me a lot in the next falls I had.
I only started professional training in September 2020, once I moved to another equestrian club. I soon realized that it’s not the same thing as just training for pleasure once a week, as I used to do. In riding, you must first and foremost understand the mentality of the horse. Below you is a 550 kilogram animal, which thinks completely differently from humans. You have to be in control without being imposing, you have to be relaxed, but attentive to everything that moves and you have to continue even if you are afraid.
Equestrianism taught me discipline. Even if I get tired and feel like I can’t do it anymore, I’m not allowed to stop exercising, I have to complete it, because I’m not the only one in this. I team up with an extremely smart animal and not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the fact that he lets me be with him. I have to think about how each part of the horse’s body and my body is coordinated, while the movements have to flow in harmony one after the other, like in a dance. I have to pay attention to the impulse and the power he performs, every inch in which my hands, feet or back are positioned, forward or backward.
I love this sport because it teaches me patience, communication, self-confidence and it is extremely satisfying. After hours of training, falls, mistakes, bad days, early morning or late evening lessons, the best prize I can win is to learn the move. The thing that I think about and that helps me move forward in every workout is that I don’t have to be perfect from the first time, but I have to be better than yesterday, because that’s how I progress. Mentally, a rider has to work enormously with himself, maybe even more than physically, because the biggest obstacles are right in our minds. Equestrianism is an art, full of compassion, courage, empathy and a lot, a lot of work.
I made my debut at my first competition of the Romanian Equestrian Federation at the end of February 2021. The competition took place over two days, in which I participated in two tests: training progression and cavaletti. Training progression is a test that combines all the elements of riding that can only be done on horseback, without any other object. The arena has letters at predetermined distances, and the rider must guide his horse in all walks (step, trot, gallop) between them, to make circles, diagonals, hand changes, serpentines, stops and starts fixed in those letters. It is the ultimate test in horse-riding harmony.
The cavaletti test consists in passing the horse either at a trot or at a gallop, over some bars on the ground, in a predetermined route. In both days I participated, I won 1st place in both tests. I felt like crying of happiness, because even though I knew I had given my best, I didn’t expect it. I was very proud of myself and the horse I rode.
I look forward to the next competition and I train hard three times a week to get equally good results in even harder tests.