We’re an odd bunch, those of us who invest so much of our time and money in our sports. Whether you ski, ride or do both, you’ll find that this list hits close to home.
As a jack of many trades and master of none, I have tried my hand at a number of different hobbies. I always see similarities between them, but none seem quite as prominent as those between skiing and riding.
So, here are 10 ways that skiers and riders are the same:
1. We’re broke. That’s right. The two sports that people associate most with the participants having money are actually filled with broke barn rats and ski bums. Sure, there are some outliers whose credit cards aren’t maxed out and who don’t really have to worry about the cost of their season passes, airfare entry fees, but … who are these people? Certainly not the people with whom I ride and ski. No, we are working our jobs plus a side hustle or two (… or three) just to get our fix.
2. No one likes mud season. No one. Skiers are lamenting the end of their ski seasons, skiing whatever patches of snow they can find or fighting the other die-hards to make it down the WROD (white ribbon of death, for those who aren’t in the kn0w) alive. Riders fare no better, fighting abscesses, losing horseshoes in the pasture, losing their own boots in the pasture, scraping mud off of hairy horses and generally praying they find some solid ground soon.
3. Your hips don’t lie. That’s right. Whether you’re riding or skiing, your hips and what you do with them are really, really important. When you’re skiing, you have to keep them open to the slope and let your legs move under you. The alternative is… less than savory. The same is true of riding — if you close your hips and lock your pelvis, you’re done. Good luck posting and cuing your horse.
4. No one understands you quite as much as your fellow skiers and riders. People outside of the skiing and equestrian worlds just. Don’t. Get. It. Why, they ask, would you strap skinny sticks on your feet and throw yourself down a mountain? Or why would you climb on top of a 1000+ pound animal and try to make it do your bidding? These actions seem crazy to those for whom it isn’t a passion. But to the rest of us, they’re just how we get our fix.
5. What happens after you’re done for the day can be just as important as what happens during the day. Whether it’s après-ski or late nights at the barn, these are the times when you hash out what went wrong and what went right, build each other up, make memories and solve the meaning of life. It’s how you bounce back after really tough runs or rides and get yourself to click in or saddle up the next day.
6. We all think our sport is the most expensive sport. Skiers lament about the cost of their boots, their lift tickets, their skis, their apparel and everything else it takes to get them onto the snow. Riders lament about the cost of their horse, their vet, their farrier, their apparel, their tack, their entry fees and everything else it takes to get them into the arena or out on the trail. The truth is, all of our sports are expensive (see item #1 in this list).
7. Watching yourself on video is incredibly humbling. Yes, VMA (video movement analysis) is the devil and so is the inner monologue that occurs while you watch yourself on video. “Is that really what I look like going down the hill? I thought I had way more upper and lower body separation. Crap. I am banking all my turns. How have I managed to make it down the hill alive?” Riding is no different. “Dear lord, what am I doing with my hands? I thought I had more upper and lower body separation. Crap. I am leaning in with my upper body in my turns. How has my horse not thrown me off and disowned me?” Even though a little VMA can help you break down some issues and improve your technique, it’s still a mild form of torture.
8. It can get really technical really fast. Remember the days of just clicking into your skis and moving thoughtlessly down the hill? The sound of snow under your skis, feeling the momentum gain as you carve your turns? Or of climbing on your horse and just going? Cantering through the field because it was fun? Well, if you’ve taken many lessons or gone to many clinics, it’s amazing how quickly those carefree feelings can dissipate. You’ll be thinking about hand position, upper body position, lower body position, center of gravity, opening your leg… the list goes on. In fact it is really easy to get so caught up in the technical aspect that you forget to just enjoy it.
9. Duct tape fixes everything. Never leave the house without duct tape. Never. It’s on my ski boots, my jacket, my horse’s hooves. It can patch all manner of holes and fix most problems.
10. “Injury” is a relative term. Your version of being hurt is much different than that of a normal person. You’ve skied and ridden with broken bones, torn ligaments, a bruised body and a variety of other ailments. Your doctor may tell you that you need to rest and wait until you heal, but you know better. Pop some ibuprofen, strap on your boots and you’re good to go.
Despite all the money you shell out, the injuries you fight through and the complaining you do, these hobbies are your passion. You can’t picture your life without skiing or horses. Your best friends were met on the slopes or in the barn and you’d do some pretty sketchy things to make sure you can keep doing what you love.