Horseback riding has long been popular among the aristocracy. Once a necessity, today it is a beautiful hobby. Professional equestrian sports include the disciplines of racing, triathlon, vaulting, dressage, trotting, and show jumping. None of them are easy; each requires dedication and endurance.
Viktoriya Dunina, India Trade Lane Manager at AsstrA, is a keen rider who shares some of the intricacies of her hobby here.
- Viktoria, why did you take up horseback riding?
Riding came into my life as an adult, at the age of 33. I am the type of person who cannot live without adventure. When I wanted my next new experience, I narrowed my choices down to motocross and horseback riding. I joke that I started with horseback riding because I was moving in alphabetical order.
- How long ago did you start training?
I've been training for three years now. I take personal lessons in which there are three of us in the arena: me, my coach, and the horse. I used to practice once a week for one hour, but now I have increased the lesson time up to two hours. Sometimes right after the lesson I continue in the field by myself. A good horsewoman should be able to ride well in the arena and the field.
- Have you ever taken a horseback riding tour?
The equestrian world of St. Petersburg is close-knit, mostly consisting of friends of friends from the stables. In my first year of training, I heard about horseback riding tours but I was not yet ready to participate. In my second year I was comfortable with active gaits in the field and began to enjoy tours in the mountains.
- Do you have professional riding ambitions?
Compared to other sports, horseback riders achieve professional success at relatively older ages. So I could ride in amateur competitions, but that is not currently my goal.
- What horse breeds do you prefer?
It all depends on the discipline. I prefer the Thoroughbred in the field, the Karachi for show jumping, and the Trakehnen for dressage.
Riding is a sport suitable for anyone who can walk – even for children as young as 2 years old. A horse’s strength and warmth is energizing, and riding is a great reason for city dwellers to get out into nature. Each rider chooses what he or she would like to get out of the sport, i.e. specific achievements or simple pleasure. I would like to point out that horseback riding and air travel have a lot in common. Both activities are about speed, making quick decisions, taking responsibility, working hard, and staying dedicated. And of course there is plenty of adrenaline and shared positive emotions with those around you.