This is My Hobby

By Brad Turley

I attended the annual USEA Conference in Colorado Springs this past December and had the opportunity to listen and talk to some of the world’s greatest riders. Wow, what a place to be. The top riders in the world sharing their tips and insight. It was definitely worth the price of the ticket!

I’ve only been Eventing for three years and the more I learn the less I seem to know. Listening to the top riders was impressive … then befuddling … then confusing. But why? As some old guy getting into the sport late in life, I don’t have enough years left to become a fraction of the rider they are.

If I’m not a professional, what am I? Officially, I’m a Novice Amateur Master rider. Unofficially, I’m not sure what I am other than always in a hurry to do something with the horses. This Is My Hobby

My “living” chips away at the “life” I wish I could lead. My living forces me to run late and finish riding early just to fit in the next conference call or meeting. Is riding my hobby?
Feeling a little discouraged, I took out the old dictionary and found “hobby” defined as “An activity or interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.” Sounds about right.

But I read on. It also noted derivations from the Middle English words hobi or hobyn meaning small horse or hobby horse. Wow, now we’re getting somewhere. You mean the word hobby is related to horses? Maybe I defined myself.

I kept on looking. The Online Etymology Dictionary clarifies the origin of the word from 1298, “small horse, pony,” later “mock horse used in the morris dance,” and c.1550 “child’s toy riding horse,” which led to a transferred sense of “favorite pastime or avocation,” first recorded 1676. The connecting notion being “activity that doesn’t go anywhere.”

That did it for me. Looks like having horses and riding as a hobby wasn’t so bad after all. Horses being a means to spend money outside your normal occupation goes back nearly seven hundred years. And since I don’t want to jinx history, I’m officially calling this passion I have for horses my hobby.

You see, I’m the guy who still has to take a minute to figure out which spur goes on which foot each day. The guy whose goal in dressage is simply not to tense up each time he enters the ring. And the same guy who just wishes his horse could count so he didn’t have to worry about the whole stride thing in stadium.

So after a few conversations at the conference with other people like myself, I figured there must be others out there like me. And what does one do in the new millennium to share their experiences with others? Write a Blog, what else. One where we could share some stories, help each other figure out how to get more ride time each day and have a couple of laughs along the way.

This Blog was written for the nearly 7,000 Beginner Novice, Novice and Training riders who simply do what they do for the sheer love, exhilaration and passion that they have for their horses and this sport we call Eventing.

I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned while I try to become the best hobbyist I can be. And I hope you can help me, by sharing some of the experiences you have had.