When people think about Western-style horseback riding, they often think of cowboys, and by extension, Western movies. Naturally, people assume that directors of Westerns have done their due diligence and are providing accurate information about horseback, especially considering how integral it is to the plot. However, what you see in Western movies is not always accurate to real-life horseback riding. Let’s take a look at a few misconceptions about riding that you may have seen in movies.
Horses Have Unlimited Stamina
It may seem obvious, but horses are animals that can wear out just like any other animal. They require food and water to keep their energy up, too, especially in hot climates and after long bouts of riding. In Western movies, though, horses are often portrayed as machines in that they never seem to tire and could gallup for hundreds of miles without a break. Realistically, horses can’t gallop for very long, and they need regular breaks and sustenance if they are being ridden for a long time.
Saddling a Horse is Instantaneous
In Western movies, horses are always ready for the protagonist to hop in the saddle and get to riding. While it is possible to ride a horse without a saddle at all, many people prefer saddling their horse before riding. Doing this takes more than just a few seconds, as you have to ensure the saddle is in good condition before putting it on your horse, and then you have to tighten the cinch. So, while keeping a horse saddled may have been a thing in the past, it is not reflective of today’s methods, as saddling takes some time and only those who do not use saddles can expect to hop on and ride more quickly.
Horses Are Comfortable With Multitasking
It is common in Western films to see people shooting guns or playing music while on horseback. However, shooting guns next to a horse’s head would be disorienting, and the horse might even rear and knock the rider off. Playing music is another silly idea, as it requires focus to be taken from the horse, possibly leading to miscommunication between the duo and eventually causing the rider some harm. Although there have been horseback archers and knights in olden times, using a bow or sword is a far cry from a gun or guitar. Plus, those horses would have become accustomed to battle.
Western movies may be fun to watch, but they are fairly inaccurate when it comes to horseback riding. If watching Westerns is your only exposure to riding, make sure to do some research before trying it for yourself.