Horse fact: The 2004 Olympics were held in Athens, Greece. The 2004 gold metal winner of the team three day event was France. Great Britain won the silver and the U.S. won the bronze. Four years ago in 2000, the Australians won the gold, Great Britain won the silver, and the U.S. won the bronze in Sidney, Australia. Eight years ago in 1996, Austrailia won the gold, the U.S. won the silver, and New Zealand won the bronze in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Grazing horse Palominos at horse showNew Zealand Horse - I'm a cutie!

Horses are wonderful pets. They can't live indoors with you like cats and dogs, but you can ride them. They are more expensive to take care of. Vet bills, farrier bills, stable fees, grain and equipment are necessary expenses when owning a horse. But horses have friendly, comical personalities and they are fun to ride.
Riding horse in Vermont

Horses jumping over fences during competition. What a lot of fun!

Horses like to walk. Walking is a slow gait. When they speed up to the trot, the ride gets bumpy. The rider has to learn to post. Posting in rising up and down in the saddle so the bumpiness doesn't bother you or the horse. A good rider will post with very quiet hands. That way the horse doesn't feel a sharp painful jerk on his soft mouth. Going even faster is fun! At the canter, the horse is really moving, and the wind is blowing in your face. The ride is a lot smoother too. Cantering is fun to do before jumping. Jumping over a fence is like flying. The rider has to be still and lean forward so that the horse can stretch his neck over the jump. Galloping is the fastest gait that a horse can do.
Horses rearing

Horses like to eat grass and clover in the fields. In the barn, they are given grain which is very nutritious but fattening. Grain is very good for them, but don't let them eat too much. For snacks, horses like apples, carrots and sugar cubes. When you feed a horse, remember to open your hand flat, and keep your thumb down. Horses have flat teeth for eating grass, but being bitten can still hurt. Be careful!

Tally ho!
Horse and hounds The foxhunter

Foxhunting is a sport that began in England. The farmers were really angry with the foxes for killing their chickens and other farm animals. The foxhunters would ride on horses and follow a pack of hounds until the dogs picked up the scent and the chase began. The riders would race through fields and woods until the fox went into a hole. In England, they dig up the fox and kill it, to protect their farm animals. In America, the fox is not killed, only chased. That way they can chase him another day! Foxhunting was President George Washington's favorite sport. In fact, when Congress members of the 18th century heard the hounds barking, many of them would leave, run to their horses and ride away.
Anything worth doing,
is worth doing well.
Preparing for dressage competition Horse competing in dressage phase of event

Dressage is an equestrian sport that involves intricate figures and transitions in a large ring with lettered markers on the outer rail. These letters tell the rider when to make transitions between walk, trot and canter. In international competitions, the rider wears a top hat, a coat with tails and long
stirrups. This classical kind of riding is good for all horses because it makes them supple and they learn to listen to their rider. In fact, the word dressage
means 'training' in French! The Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria is famous for its classical training of Lipizzan stallions. In 1912, dressage became an Olympic event.

Female jockey Running in the Kentucky Oaks
at Churchill Downs
Horse racing is very fast. The rider, or jockey, has taught the horse two gaits only: walking and galloping as fast as you can! Fast horses can make a lot of money for their owners, or for people who are lucky enough to bet on them during a winning race. Race horses that retire often become pleasure horses. In the photo above, look how soft the rider is holding the reins. That's what I what to do with my hands too so that the horse is more comfortable and able to work better.

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