Rider, Equestrian, or Horseman?

What is the difference between a rider, an equestrian, and horseman? 

I’m sure that there are as many definitions for these words as there are horsey people on the planet. All three define people who identify themselves with horses; all three words can be used to identify my relationship with horses at different times of my life. 

To me, a “rider” is somebody who casually rides horses. A rider might not ride competitively or seriously, but enjoys riding.

An equestrian is a more serious rider. Equestrians often own or lease horses. They might  compete, train horses, and/or attend horse events. Maybe they read books about riding, or go to clinics, or take a weekly lesson. Equestrians are striving to improve either for competition or out of their own love of riding.


Horsemen (or women) don’t just ride, but are deeply engaged in all levels of horse care. They strive to always care for their horse more completely, and find more depth of understanding for the creature as a whole. They listen to the horse, and know what she is saying to them. The horse and the horseman are mutually dependent on one another. The horseman is completely absorbed by the world of horses. 

While an equestrian or rider can move freely in and out of the horse world, horseman are always at the barn, even if only in their mind. When they are eating breakfast they are thinking about what foods will give the most stamina so that they can ride longer. When they are shopping they are considering whether these jeans will hold up to years of riding. When they are at the grocery store they are thinking about whether they have enough carrots and molasses at the barn. 

You could call it obsessed. I call it dedicated. 


I put myself in the category of horseman. You know the horse phase most little girls go through? I never grew out of it!

I prioritize my own wellness because I know that if I am healthy I will be better equipped to care for my horse. I eat well, exercise daily (here is a great yoga video), and always strive to expand my mind and knowledge. I truly believe that if I am a well rounded and healthy individual, my riding and horsemanship will benefit. I even wrote a post about 10 things you can do, like these, to become a better rider. 


This is motivated me to start this blog about the many aspects of human health and wellness that relate to being a horsman. I wholeheartedly believe that the way you treat your body directly or indirectly impacts your abilities as a horseman, as well as your horse’s health. 

So which category do you fall into (rider, equestrian, horseman)? Leave a comment!