Could you ride like a jockey?

The Paulick Report‘s Natalie Ross has ridden all her life. After spending time at the track, she had a hankering to gallop a race horse. She discovered that it’s harder than it looks.

One of the things I hadn’t really calculated is how difficult it is just to stay perched up there, much less stay still. The forward momentum of an accelerating horse pushes you backwards, toward the saddle. With the stirrup on the very end of your inwardly-turned foot, your entire means of balance is your calves and heels, which of course start moving around with the horse. For yoga practitioners, it’s basically the chair pose, on your heels, with your toes in and arms down. The taller you are, the more difficult it is to keep your body low behind the horse’s neck, and if you manage to do it, you have to hope that neck doesn’t come flying back at your nose if the horse becomes upset. I’m honestly not sure which set of muscles was more upset by my attempt to maintain this balance—back, calves, arms, abs, or heels.

When I was a teen, I was invited to gallop racehorses. My father said no. Unfortunately, even if I’d ever had a second chance, I was only “brave” enough to try that after the age of 16.

Have you ever galloped a racehorse?

3 thoughts on “Could you ride like a jockey?

  1. No. But I will admit that one day, riding my very first horse (meaning MINE) I was trail riding. We left the trail, and went through an opening in the woods. We stumbled upon the most beautiful sward of green I’d ever seen in my life. It just BEGGED for a gallop.
    I put my heels to McDuff and we went racing down this beautiful stretch of open. His tracks were black and clear. Just about then I saw a little dry pond of sand…with a flag behind it.
    I was on a golf course.
    And, suddenly, there were THREE golf carts coming at me, manned by red faced, white haired white men wearing onesies, screaming at me and shaking their fists as they raced towards me.
    I learned several things:
    1. rich white men wearing plaid pants, with their belts up under their nipples, do not like riders.
    2. A horse can run faster than an electric golf cart, especially if he’s a Quarter Horse,

    3. A horse is easily tracked on a golf course. Once you get back into the forest, where there are hundreds of hoofprints, you are safe.
    4. There is no better footing for a flat out gallop than a golf course.

    I used to have, as a signature, the sentence
    “The best thing to do on a golf course is a GALLOP.”
    Until I was trolled by some (probably older, richer white man) who threatened me with a lawsuit and called me a vandal.
    He didn’t, of course, and calling me a vandal was unfair.
    But it’s still the best footing in the world.

  2. I learned to gallop racehorses two years ago (at the age of 31) and boy is it different from everything else I’ve ever done. I’m not REALLY brave enough to do it, but it’s the best work out I’ve ever gotten and it has made the rest of my riding so much better.

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