What is equestrianism?
People have been riding horses for a long time and you can do a lot of things on a horse. If you have in interest in horses you are likely going to hear the term equestrianism used to describe riding, or at least certain aspects of it. The term itself is pretty generic and loosely defined so that in most cases it can cover a wide variety of things, usually anything that is done on a horse.
Equestrianism is basically anything that involves riding a horse. This can include both recreational or work riding. Horses have of course been used for thousands of years and for most of this time their main use was for work or war. Over the last hundred years or so the need to use horses for work has declined dramatically, although there are still a few jobs that are done on horseback. The result is that now most people who ride do so for fun.
Most riding these days is done for recreational reasons. That being said even back in the days when horses were used primarily for work there were still lots of people who rode just for fun. There are lots of reasons that people enjoy riding horses, for many it is simply a love of the animals. Other reasons include the fact that it is good exercise or simply the challenge of mastering a difficult skill. Even today when few people really need to ride a horse there are millions who do so just for fun.
Of course with all of these people riding horses it did not take long for competitions to start, both to see who had the better horse and who was the better rider. Most of the competitions were based on the type of work that a horse was required to do. Since most horses were used as a means of transport it was natural to race them for example. Dressage is a test of the skills that a horse needs to have in order to be ridden in most situations and the rodeo is a test of the skills that a horse has to have for ranching work.
There are clearly a lot of things that can be done on a horse and a lot of different types of horses that can be ridden. This means that if you are interested in getting involved in equestrianism you are going to have to make some decisions about the type of riding that you want to do so that you can choose the right horse. When you are first starting out this is not such a big deal as you will likely just want a basic riding horse and will likely be renting anyway. If you are going to buy a horse however you will need to make these types of decisions.