Thinking of Becoming a Sport Horse Owner

Thinking of Becoming a Sport Horse Owner

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Horses have played an integral role in sports and competition for centuries, and the equestrian world offers a diverse range of disciplines for riders of all levels. From dressage to show jumping, each sport requires specific skills from both the horse and rider. In this blog, we will explore the different sport horse disciplines, typical horse sizes in each event, age classes, major Irish national events, horse shows, international reach, accessibility of equestrian lifestyles, horse ownership options, essential equipment and the benefits of owning a horse.

Sport Horse Disciplines:

Show Jumping:
  • Show jumping is a popular and exciting discipline that tests the horse and rider's ability to jump over a series of fences. It requires a horse with speed, agility, and athleticism. Typically, horses in this discipline are between 15-17 hands high, and the riders can be any age.
  • Dressage is an elegant and sophisticated discipline that focuses on the horse's precise movements and the rider's balance and control. The ideal dressage horse is between 15 and 17 hands high and is often between the ages of 6 and 12 years old.
  • Eventing is an all-encompassing discipline that combines dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Horses in eventing are usually between 15 and 17 hands high, and riders can compete in different age categories.
Hunting Trials:
  • Hunting trials are competitions where riders and their horses navigate challenging terrain while jumping over obstacles and completing other tasks. The ideal horse for this discipline is between 15-17 hands high, and riders can compete in various age categories.
Cross Country:
  • Cross country is a fast-paced and exciting discipline where riders and horses navigate a course of jumps, water hazards, and other obstacles. The ideal horse for this discipline is between 15 and 17 hands high, and riders can compete in different age categories.

Irish National Events and Horse Shows:

If you own a horse or are thinking about horse ownership these are some of the national shows we here at Swish recommend you visit in 2023.

  • The Millstreet International Horse Show is held annually in Millstreet, County Cork. Events include show jumping, dressage, and showing classes.
  • The Balmoral Show is held annually in the Eikon Exhibition Centre, Lisburn. Events include both national and international Show Jumping. 
  • Mullingar International Horse Show is an annual event held in Mullingar, County Westmeath. Events include show jumping, showing classes, and working hunter classes.
  • Tattersalls International Horse Trials and Country Fair - held in Ratoath, County Meath. Events include dressage, show jumping, and cross-country.
  • Cavan Equestrian Centre International Show Jumping is an annual event held in Cavan, County Cavan.Events include international show jumping and showing classes.
  • Dublin International Horse Show is an annual event held at the RDS in Dublin. Events include show jumping, dressage, and showing classes.
  • Ballindenisk International Horse Trials in Watergrasshill County Cork is a fabulous location for Multi-discipline sport horse trials.

For more events click AIRC

Accessibility and Benefits of Owning a Horse:

Contrary to popular belief, owning a horse is not just for the wealthy or elite. The equestrian world offers many opportunities for riders of all ages and backgrounds, and there are options available for both sole and shared horse ownership. Shared horse ownership allows individuals to share the cost of owning and caring for a horse, making it more accessible for those on a budget.

Owning a horse has many benefits, including improved physical fitness, mental wellbeing, and increased social opportunities. Caring for a horse also teaches responsibility, time management, and discipline, which are transferable skills that can be used in other areas of life.

Lifestyle Equipment:

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, it is important to have the right equipment to ensure safety and comfort while riding. In this article, we will discuss the different types of saddles, saddle pads, stirrups, bridles, bits, whips, and harnesses needed in each discipline of horse riding, as well as the clothing and safety equipment required for riders.


Saddles are essential for horse riding as they provide a comfortable seat for the rider and distribute the rider's weight evenly across the horse's back. There are different types of saddles for different disciplines, such as dressage, jumping, endurance, and western riding. Dressage saddles have a deep seat and long, straight flaps to allow the rider to sit in a correct position. Jumping saddles have a forward flap to accommodate a shorter stirrup length and provide more freedom of movement for the horse's shoulder. Endurance saddles have a lightweight design with extra padding for long-distance riding, while western saddles have a horn for rope work and a deep seat to provide stability.

Saddle Pads:

Saddle pads, also known as numnahs, are placed under the saddle to provide additional cushioning and prevent chafing. They come in different materials such as sheepskin, gel, and foam. Some saddle pads have inserts or shims to adjust the fit of the saddle.


Stirrups are where the rider's feet are placed and provide support and stability while riding. There are different types of stirrups for different disciplines, such as traditional stirrups, which are lightweight and have a fillis design, and western stirrups, which are heavier and wider to accommodate larger boots.


Bridles are the headgear used to control the horse. They consist of a bit, reins, and a headstall. Dressage bridles have a simple design and are usually made of leather, while jumping bridles have a padded noseband and browband to provide additional comfort for the horse.


Bits are the metal mouthpieces that go inside the horse's mouth and are attached to the bridle reins. There are many different types of bits, such as snaffle bits, curb bits, and pelham bits, each with its own unique design and purpose.


Whips are used as a reinforcement aid to encourage the horse to move forward or change direction. They come in different lengths and materials, such as leather, fibreglass, or carbon fibre.


Harnesses are used in driving disciplines and consist of a bridle, collar, and traces. The collar is placed around the horse's neck, and the traces attach to the carriage or cart.

Clothing and Safety Equipment:

When riding horses, safety should always be a top priority. Riders should wear appropriate clothing, including riding boots, breeches, and a riding shirt or jacket. A helmet is essential for safety and should fit correctly and be fastened securely. Riders can also wear safety vests or airbag vests to protect their chest and back in case of a fall.

Riding Boots:

Riding boots are an essential piece of equipment for riders as they provide protection, comfort, and support while riding. There are different types of riding boots, such as tall boots, paddock boots, and western boots. Tall boots are traditionally worn in dressage and jumping disciplines and provide support for the calf and ankle. Paddock boots are shorter and worn for everyday riding, while western boots have a wider toe box and a lower heel for added stability.

In conclusion, having the right equipment including Swish horse rugs is essential for both the rider's safety and the horse's comfort. We hope this short Blog helps in sharing some knowledge on horses and the many benefits horse ownership can bring.

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