JC Does Sports Abroad: Equestrian


Best friends JC Canicosa and Harvey the horse take a ride through Nine Acres on a wonderfully cloudy British day. Canicosa is not sure if the experience was scarier for him or Harvey. Photo by JC Canicosa.

Jc Canicosa

“JC Does Sports” is a series where sports reporter JC Canicosa engages in different club and varsity sports around campus and describes his experiences as a reporter attempting to be athletic.

First lesson of riding horses in England: yelling, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” while you’re on the horse may not be as funny to the other non-Americans in the group as you think.

Having ridden many a carousel in my day, I thought equestrian sport would be rather simple and straightforward. I mean, all you do is sit while the horse does most of the work, right?

What I came to learn is that a lot more goes into being a responsible rider than you’d think. Horses are living things with skeletons, ligaments and muscles, and they feel pain and discomfort just like we do. If your job was to carry around a 45-90 kg (that’s 100-200 Ibs. to you American folk) person on your back all day, you would too.

It’s important for riders to understand proper riding technique or when horses are showing signs of pain or discomfort, as equestrian should be a mutually fun experience for the rider and the horse.

This was good to know because prior to this lesson, my only knowledge of horses came from Netflix shows. So now I know that not all horses are named BoJack trying to find life after Hollywood.

As we moved on to the horse-riding part of equestrian, I was admittedly anxious to begin. I climbed onto the stepping stool as equestrian instructor Hazel Heaton brought out Harvey the horse for me to ride. Climbing on was probably the trickiest part of the entire process, but as soon as I saddled up, I immediately knew Harvey and I would be best friends.

When you’re riding the horse, it’s important to keep your back straight and find your center of gravity. This may not be as easy as it sounds, as the jerkiness of riding a horse is more akin to being on a boat in rocky waters than riding a bike or kart.

Harvey wasn’t making it any easier for me either, taking several snack breaks on the freshly dewed spring grass. But in time, and by the power of Harvey and I’s friendship, I was starting to get it.

And while my equestrian skills never reached the level of Jon Snow riding into battle, and Harvey and I’s friendship never felt like Aang and Appa’s, equestrian was still one of the most fun things I’ve done abroad.

But when I get back home, you’re probably more likely to find me on the City Park Carousel than riding horses in New Orleans.


Rating: 5/5 Knights of the Vale

Verdict: The 4D-Avatar ride in Disney World is more accurate than you’d think