How do you Answer - Not Riding Today? 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 its 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.

A Personal Journey. Each of us is on a very personal journey in regards to our equines. I have a passion to promote non ridden equines. They have a worth and a value. People who choose not to ride in an equine world geared towards riding people can face judgement and pressures. 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. I do my best here and in the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group to promote the positive aspects of owning a horse that isn't ridden.

Our own horse Kez cannot be ridden. He is the reason my husband Steve and I started the non ridden equine agenda. We started the original Non Ridden Equine Facebook group 4th May 2017. And from that set up other non ridden equine facebook groups and gifted these to other people to run as they see fit. We also set up on the 1st August 2017 the not for profit Non Ridden Equine Association UK which we ran for nearly 4 years. Sadly now closed due to the equine industry making it impossible to continue because of relentless unpleasantness, threats and bullying. Again another sign of how little non ridden is cherished or valued. The very people we set this up for to showcase their work have made it unbearable for us to continue.     

Until 2017 the rich diversity of 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. We are not anti-riding. The non ridden equine agenda I set up was 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 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. We asked the members of the Non Ridden Equine Facebook group their reasons. Here we list some reasons why people don't ride.

  • 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 a 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.

Welfare Matters

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. The 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.

I am not anti-riding. If you choose to ride, ethical permissive riding is what matters, listening to the horse. Everything non ridden is great for all equines, ridden or not ridden. 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.