Why Are You Not Riding?

There are many reasons why people choose not to ride their equines. People should not feel they need to justify why they don't ride. However people find themselves on the end of questioning. The questioning has it’s foundation in the thousands of years of history and culture that place the horse and human engaging in riding or driving. Plus an equine mainstream that riding and preparing an equine for riding is the main focus. There is big business in riding activities and most equestrian businesses are geared to that agenda. The pressure by the equestrian world to ride a horse you own is high and enjoying non-ridden activities with horses is seriously undervalued. 

Each of us is on a very personal journey in regards to our equines. One of the many reasons the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group and The Non Ridden Equine Association UK was formed was to promote non ridden equines have a worth and a value. There are many mutual enjoyable activities and reasons to ownership of a non ridden equine. Along with a rich diversity of varied beneficial pursuits can be enjoyed by both owner and horse. Sadly it's still the case that many out there see no value or worth in a horse that cannot be ridden and the horse gets passed from pillar to post with the truth hidden. Non ridden equines are the most at risk of substandard care, abuse and neglect. We have an equine crisis in the UK and non ridden equines are the most disadvantaged and the hardest to re-home. Sadly many non ridden equines have no loving caring guardian. Some run the risk of being dumped near death or dead. We do our best here to promote the positive aspects of owning a horse that isn't ridden. 

Until recently non ridden activities mostly went under the radar. With people quietly enjoying their non ridden activities in isolation. As there was no platform to share and celebrate good practice. Not any more as people in their thousands have joined the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group which launched on 4th May 2017. And from this group the launch on 1st August 2017 of the not for profit The Non Ridden Equine Association UK which provides a platform for all to enjoy. Both the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group and the Association are not anti-riding. Both have been set up due to the challenges and pressures faced by non ridden equines and people who choose not to ride. 

People can feel guilty by not riding a horse that is rideable. As people will tell them it is a waste of a good or talented horse. People think a horse will get bored if he’s not ridden. Then this leads to the thinking of selling the horse to someone who will bring out his potential. That is human thinking. Horses are not born with a saddle on their back, riding is a human agenda. Do horses have to be able do something for us to justify their existence? Many people feel isolated, criticised and ridiculed for their reasons for not riding. Some people feel pressured to part with their non ridden equine. Many question is their beloved equine being wasted being a pet? And then beat them-self up over this. Certainly plenty of our members now feel because of meeting up with like-minded people the pressure of they should ride has been replaced with it is more than ok not to ride. The group members are inspirational in support to each other. It is a group of people who don’t give up on their horses when they can’t do a job for them anymore. The non ridden equine group has helped people in many ways and to realise there's more to life than riding and the peer pressure around riding activities. 

You are not alone in why you don’t ride. The reasons for not riding are many and individual and here we list just a few. 

  • Many people have horses with physical and or emotional conditions which mean riding activities are not suitable for the horse. Some equines are retired from riding due to age or injury. 
  • Other people think it is ethically wrong to ride and riding doesn't feel right anymore. 
  • It is a concern to some people that riding can give the horse problems. 
  • Ethical permissive riding is another reason why people say they very rarely ride or don’t ride. These people will only ride if the horse is a willing partner, and they allow their horse the freedom to say no. Some people love to ride, but love groundwork too. They are not against riding but place a high value on having a willing, enthusiastic, happy partner under the saddle who has a say in what they do. These people love spending time with horses, and finding different non ridden activities to enjoy with their horse. 
  • Often people feel that it’s easier to bond when riding isn’t a huge priority. For them riding is just the icing on the cake. Everything non ridden is great for riding horses too.
  • Play, liberty and ground work are great fun. 
  • There are people who prefer to base their activities with their horse on the ground rather than ride. They don't feel the need to ride, even if they could. They enjoy the relationship dimension on the ground way more than being in the saddle.
  • Some have decided to give up riding due to their age or health conditions. 
  • Struggling to ride in balance is an issue for some people. They consider the impact it has on their horse and so out of respect to them choose to stop riding them. 
  • The owner knows the horse doesn’t enjoy riding activities. Some people and horses are just happier if they don’t ride.
  • The equine has behavioural issues. 
  • Many get pleasure and satisfaction with just caring for their horses. 
  • Some people it is about spending quality time with their horse with no agenda than just being. 
  • Confidence issues are another reason why riding isn’t a great activity.   
  • The joy of in hand walking / hiking with their horse is another reason why some people do not ride. 
  • Giving up riding can be because the owner can only have one horse. And the horse is loved more than riding. 
  • Taking responsibility and an ethical choice in regards to the care of equines that can no longer be ridden. 
  • There are people who love their equines for who they are and not for what they can do. Many see their equines far more than them just being mere tools to ride on. They are more interested in an amazing partnership and connection with their horses. 
  • Obesity is another factor why some people choose not to ride. 
  • Environmental factors such as lack of facilities to ride and people not feeling safe riding on the roads anymore.
  • Lifestyle choices, time and work commitments may mean people choose not to ride. 
  • Or simply riding is no longer what they want to do. And often these people discover a new dimension to their relationship with their horse and love their time together even more. 
  • Their horse is an pet.
  • Love is a strong reason, plenty of people just love their horses and enjoy being with who they love dearly. Many equine / human relationships are profound and last lifetimes. These relationships can be spiritual, beautiful and very rewarding. 
  • Then there are people who want to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship with their equines. They are interested in an equine led agenda and a relationship with their horse. 
  • The herd are their friends and family. The commitment is lifelong. 
  • For some their horse is their place of safety and stability in their lives. Horses are great therapy and good for mind, body, spirit and soul. 
Whatever the reason or mix of reasons for not riding or riding, no one should feel like they need to justify why they don't ride. Welfare of the equine matters most, and as long as it is properly taken care of and you love your horse it matters not why you choose not to ride. 

We are not anti-riding. If you choose to ride ethical riding is what matters, listening to the horse. Here is not the platform to debate ethical horsemanship. We do have a Library of FREE to access resources from many different practitioners to inspire, delight and educate and what you develop from non ridden activities greatly enhances riding. 

The relationship with a horse is what you make it. A deep meaningful connection based on open honest dialogue as a partnership, based on mutual trust and above all with no compromise to well-being is what matters.

Photograph by Catherine Slade. 

Kez is the reason we started this journey. We no longer walk the path by ourselves. Thousands of like-minded people have joined us.