With the advent of the car, horseback riding shifted from being a mode of transportation to ... well, to several things: a pastime, a competitive sport, or a way to enjoy nature. There are many reasons that people still ride today. Horses are still part of work on ranches, they are used in cattle roping and other forms of livestock management. Search-and-rescue officers use horses to cover difficult, mountainous terrain. Across the west, rodeos are a place for ranch workers to show off their skills and stay in touch with their heritage, and agricultural schools often field rodeo teams. On the east coast and in the UK, sports like dressage and show jumping are more popular.
As with nearly any activity, horseback riding is a good deal more enjoyable if you know what you're doing. That just takes a bit of time and hands-on practice. But even before you get on a horse for the first time, it helps to know some facts and ground rules. What's the number-one safety rule around barns and stables? Is it okay to give your horse a treat, and what kind? What's the difference between English and Western-style riding, and which should you learn?
How well do you know this sport and hobby? Show off your skills with our quiz, if you can't get out to the country and ride. Are you ready? Saddle up!