I don't mean my title in a bad way, it's just the truth. As I would be "clueless" about what many sports entail, so are non-horse people clueless about what a horse person accomplishes.
I credit that ignorance to pony rides and paid trail rides where the horses/ponies are taught to repeat a task over and over until they're on auto-pilot.
A twenty year relationship with a horse does begin to create a similar dynamic, but we all know what it takes to get to that point.
There's so much that goes into horsemanship: feed, water, cleaning stalls, wound care, vitamins, medicine, bathing, training, riding, ...teaching manners...comforting, when they're frightened. Being a detective.
When I take new riders out, I always ask them to be detectives. What did you notice about your horse while you were saddling up and grooming? What do you notice now? They'll tell me about what their horses were doing and acting like, if they may have been favoring a leg, where their ears are, how they're walking out, who they're paying attention to, whether they want to follow or lead....and on and on.
So much of what we do is honing our skills of observation.
And we do that with the environment, too. Is there a jogger coming up behind? A biker ahead? A deer laying in the trees, ready to spring up and surprise us? A down log? A washed out trail? We have to survey the world around us and prepare our horses for whatever may come. And, if we both miss it, we have to be able to comfort and/or control our horse's fear response.
Being out on the trail is a culmination of everything we do in the training ring. We walk, trot, lope--maybe even gallop. We keep our heads up and look where we're going, rather than on our horse's feet ("Look down, fall down," I say to the trainees), we listen to our partners and give them a little pat of understanding here and there, a little thanks and praise at other times, and we keep ourselves balanced so that our horses can balance themselves.
There's a lot that goes on as a new rider learns to understand, communicate with, and trust their horse, and I don't think kids get enough credit for it.
So, this is a shout-out to those who do this--kids and adults both. Non-horse people may not understand what monumental feat you just accomplished,...
but we, horse people, do.
OH, and we also have to know how to haul a trailer...and fix a flat....like this.