Where are all the boys?

I’ve been riding since I was 7 years old, and a horse junkie long before then. I can only recall a small stretch of time without a horse in my life. It’s got to be genetic, I come from a long line of horse junkies, everyone in our house except my mom. A family of hunter/jumper/eventers, so how could I have produced a daughter not interested in horses?

Sad, but true my first child was just not a fan. I thank the higher powers that the next child, my son is possibly more of a horse junkie than me. Both my kids have been around horses since they entered the world.

My daughter took riding lessons for quite awhile as a child, but really hated it. Ridding for my son started as a reward to encourage better grades, but fast became a way of life. My husband, a non-rider, believes I created a monster.  I believe he was born that way.

The once a week riding lesson improved school grades, which turned into more lessons per week. By summer, the boy was at the barn as much as possible. The barn my son was training at did not really care to have “a boy” around but he did not care.

In group lessons, he always got the horse the girls did not want, but he did not care.  Because of the barns obvious gender issue, and I’m not the drop-off-pick-up later kind of mom, I stayed at the barn and watched my son ride. Finally, I decided to lease a horse and began learning dressage while he was riding.

At first, my son did not notice he was the only boy. A relocation cross country brought us to a new barn. I bought my son and I our own horses. We spent every day riding. By the time he was 8 and enjoying showing,  he did start to notice he was the only boy. Show after show, pretty much, he was the only boy. His passion for his horse made up for the lack of  friends of his gender.

I was told there were more boys in the western disciplines, but we love Dressage and Jumping. A few times a year he attended “fun” shows through 4-H and county fair, still he was the only boy. Years went on, and  my son would often ask “where are the other boys?”

His first year in high school, my son dual sporting Football and Equestrian team. He joined the equestrian team because a cute girl asked him.

At first, the other football players made fun of him, then one player started dating one of the girls from the Equestrian team and a few boys from the team came to watch a meet. The lightbulb went on: one boy, big black horse and 100 cute girls.

Nothing works better as date magnet like a large black warmblood in a sea of brown QH’s especially if that one large black WB is ridden by the only boy rider in five counties. My son began giving the football players riding lessons.

That same year, my son’s dressage trainer felt he should go to Junior Young riders. He had gone when we lived in Colorado but that was a few years back. The same thing, my son was the only boy with 300 girls, and yes he saw the advantage this time. The JYR was held throughout the week with a huge event bringing in top Pro dressage riders from all over for the weekend. By Friday, the warm-up arena turned into a sea of male riders. Where have they been all these years?

My son is now an adult and a trainer at a premiere dressage facility. Recently he took on a young boy student who asked him, “am I the only boy?” “Where are the other boys?”  My son explained to the boy that he has been asking that same question for many years and never did find the answer. But!!! Soon, very soon the boy will understand the advantage of being the only boy in a sea of girls.

So the questions are:  Where do the male amateur riders hide? Why is the world of schooling shows and amateur events full of women elbowing, spurring  to inch up the levels at glacier speed, yet men suddenly arrive as Pros?

Cheryl