So I have had this theory for quite a while – (people just smirk at me and mutter behind their hands), that a sailing centre, to a riding centre, is a pretty smooth crossover. Teaching a sport or activity is basic technique and being able to break things down into skills, but also being able to remember if you want to keep your students attention and interest – keep it fun. That’s easy and applies to both disciplines, therefore so far both the equine and nautical worlds are very similar. Then see what else seems to match:
Boats cost a lot. / So do horses!
The old saying about throwing dollars into the ocean being the equivalent of owning a boat – yep that works for horses too, but the money just goes into this dry smelly stuff they call hay, oh, and oats and sweetfeed and shavings and meds and vitamins and supplements and, and..
Riding / sailing – Its all in the preparation – I am still struggling with the correct words… I keep wanting to say “rig: instead of “tack”. “tack / rig up” “De-rig / tack” all interchangeable to me! Seriously though, grooming, picking out hooves all that stuff – rigging – (I mean tacking up) it takes a while as does getting a boat launched and ready – then your ‘gear on’. Buoyancy aids / riding helmets – same difference…
Of course we are continually chatting to the horses but I always talked to my boats so no difference there!
Letting a child go for the first time in a sailing dinghy is an acquired taste, you just have to know you can talk them back – which mostly you can (unless the are profoundly deaf but that is for another story). Predicting what a boat will do under the novice 6 year old, is totally possible (mostly). Predicting what a pony will do under the novice 6 year old…. totally possible too. Mostly.
Having to understand how things are rigged / tacked, looking after all that expensive garb, packing up afterwards – even hosing down with fresh water – all the same regardless of whether its a boat or a horse!
Then there’s the reason for doing it – especially children, I always thought that a sailing boat was the only form of transport and real freedom a child was allowed to handle on their own. A pony is just the same – with the same amount of freedom on the trail.
The biggest comparison must be however, that boating is such a vastly diverse life skill, there is literally a type of boat and activity for everyone, no matter how competitive or laid back they want to be. Whether they want to be ‘on the edge’ planing across the water at high speed, or to compete with others, cruise the world, or simply ‘mess around’ in boats…
Now consider all the options in the horsey world, there is an equestrian subject for everyone – including persons with special needs and disabilities.
So you see, boats v horses – not much difference at all!
The moral of this story? Not sure really, maybe it’s – if you are a sailor, you will love horse riding!!
Mind you, I just realised you can’t live on a horse…