Some of us may have ridden on a horse before, though not all of us have wanted to pursue equestrianism after a quick trot round the yard. This may be due to lack of interest, or lack of finance, meaning not many of us wanted to turn a casual interest into a full-time hobby. However, in the UK, there are around 2.4 million riders whose passion lies within the incredibly fascinating yet challenging sport of equestrianism. 2.4 million people with a desire to continue riding, regardless of cost.

Karina Petrusel, a 17-year-old equestrian, has been riding for 18 months at Longmead Riding Centre. I was lucky enough to be able to interview her to understand more about the incredible sport as well as what inspired her to begin and what the life of an amateur equestrian is truly like.


Despite only taking lessons for a year and a half, Karina has been surrounded by horses ever since she was young. She used to own her own majestic horse- “her name was Callipso and she was a Percheron-cross mare”. She knew equestrianism was the correct sport for her as she recalls “I used to admire them growing up and interacting with them every day made me happy in a way that was so distinct nothing really compared.” This initial connection and joy caused her to want to “pursue this childhood dream” and from a young age she knew there would always be “obstacles in your way but we are drawn to things for a reason and your love for what you do gives you strength.” Her phenomenal drive and dedication means she is constantly improving and honing her skills. Her utmost love for the sport also ensures her that she has made the right choice and as a result, she intends to compete in competitions in the future.

Always looking to learn, Karina rides whenever possible on a variety of different horses.  A few months ago she learnt to canter on a horse. To canter is a type of trick where a horse is ridden at a speed between trotting and galloping, currently after practicing this trick for a few months she is now “working on perfecting that as well as my transitions” but also “hopes to start jumping soon.” Undoubtedly, equestrianism can be a dangerous sport with the possibility of injuries. Fortunately, Karina has never sustained any serious injuries however she does recall “I did fall off mid gallop while racing someone on a hack- thankfully I only had a few bruises.” Nevertheless, her minor casualties have never tainted her love for the sport.

When asked about desired personality traits she looks for in horses, Karina adamantly replied that instead of seeking out a horse that would best benefit and adapt to her training style, she instead finds ways to “adapt to the horse and communicate in a way that would benefit both parties.”

However, Karina does believe that the sport does contain some flaws such as “people practice surface level knowledge as opposed to understanding the pathology of animals they`re surrounded by.” It is extremely important to take time to understand the horse`s behavioural patterns as well as their triggers to comprehend their reasoning for acting a certain way. This means that, over time, you can begin to predict how they will react in certain situations. This is extremely vital as it enables you to learn how to prevent this behaviour if it is particularly alarming or spread awareness so people do not become frightened. Due to having experience of working with horses, Karina is aware how “horses are not unpredictable, but one must ensure they see the signs of their communication” which is a skill learnt through training and commitment to properly understanding the animal. However, she wants to bring awareness to how horses are prey animals and people who are not as educated in the horse industry should refrain from “approaching and treating a horse like a predator animal, which sometimes results in adverse reactions.” Horses are extremely gentle animals, who rarely attack humans unless provoked, threatened or frightened.

Her advice to current horse riders or people looking to get involved in the sport is to ensure you find an environment that “works for you, where people are supportive and where the horses are cared for and loved.” Being part of a loving and kind community will also give you the motivation to keep going as well as the ability to learn new tricks and skills with the help of trusted and trained teachers. Horse riding is a “continuous curve of learning” so do not be discouraged if you haven`t mastered a trick in your first few hours of practicing as “it is a journey, you get better as you go.” Just ensure that you are joining for the right reason, “not to win prestige or trophies but because of your genuine love and passion for horses!”


Colchester riding school is located on Boundstead road in Berechurch, where you can take part in many events and learn a plethora of skills such as; show jumping, cross-country and gymkhanas shows.