Your Questions Answered
As we travel around the United States and internationally, we often get asked about how trick riding got started in the first place, along with questions about our horses and even how to get started.
So, we’ve put all the answers in one place for you!
If you don’t see your question answered here, feel free to get in touch!
Trick Riding Basics
Trick riding, like most American pastimes, did not actually originate from the United States. It began as a style of riding developed by the famous Cossack soldiers as a wartime strategy used to outmaneuver enemies on the battlefield.
As Cossack generations immigrated to the U.S., trick and fancy riding was immediately adopted by the American cowboy and developed into a rodeo competition. Cowboys and cowgirls would attempt to "out-ride" each other for prize money by performing the most dangerous tricks on galloping horses. During the mid-20th century, trick and fancy riding became too dangerous as a competition and evolved into a non-competitive demonstration of talent and showmanship.
Today, trick riding is often seen as a "half-time" performance or exhibition during rodeo and other equestrian events.
For the Wikipedia description of Trick Riding History, click here.
No, we never do anything to harm our equine teammates. Without them, we could not be trick riders!
We pay close attention to our horses' behavior and reactions while training. If a horse is reluctant or not comfortable with a particular trick, their body language will let us know. If a horse shows signs of distress, even during an actual performance, we will not ask them to perform.
That is why it's important for trick riders to be experienced equestrians themselves. Trick riders must understand horse behavior, horse training, and respect their equine teammate. If a horse shows any sign of distress while performing a particular trick, we immediately stop training that trick.
Although we practice trick riding on a regular basis, we monitor the amount of practice to ensure we are not "over practicing" on our horses. All of our horses are involved in other disciplines to keep their minds stimulated, their bodies in top physical shape, and to make sure they don't burn out on trick riding. They get a thorough warm-up before training along with plenty of rest between practices and runs.
We also work closely with a veterinarian to ensure our horses' health and happiness year-round.
Trick riding on an unhappy or inexperienced horse will lead to injury
Absolutely, yes. Even though we take every precaution while training and performing, TRICK RIDING IS DANGEROUS.
Riders are moving at a high rate of speed on a large animal that is trained to run without being controlled, regardless of what his rider is doing. We take special care to train ourselves and our horses to minimize the risk of injury, but there are always dangers: Equipment can malfunction, a horse can slip, a rider can take a misstep, etc.
This is why we emphasize NOT trying trick riding at home without the supervision of a trained professional. We do NOT condone the practice of trick riding without the proper equipment, a well-trained horse, and professional supervision.
Yes, we have. Just ask us! That being said, our focus on safety and proper training of both horse and rider can help greatly reduce the risk of injury during preventable situations. Unfortunately in the sport of trick riding, it isn't IF you are going to get hurt...it's WHEN. You can't always predict what other factors could cause injury while in the arena.
Trick riding is not specific to any breed of horse, but the Trixie Chicks favor the disposition and conformation of Quarter Horse and Paint Horse breeds. Their stocky build can hold a rider's weight and they excel at running fast speeds in short distances.
Not every horse can be a trick riding horse, so we look for very special individuals with unique qualities. First of all, a good trick riding horse must have a solid foundation of riding and experience in an arena setting. They must be sound, athletic, and healthy. They must have a calm demeanor, to control their own fears and disregard stressful stimuli. They must be intelligent so they can sense pattern and learn new concepts quickly. They must be steady on their feet, to hold a rider in precarious positions while rating at a gallop.
And finally, a trick riding horse must be trustworthy. To trick ride, we must relinquish control to let our horses run while we perform on their backs. We rely on our horses to do a consistent job in a stressful environment regardless of unfamiliar sights, noises, and smells.
Getting Into Trick Riding
Trick riding is a highly specialized form of stunt riding that requires physical skill, a well-trained equine, and specialized equipment. It can be quite dangerous, especially when you omit one or more of the aforementioned requirements!
For example, it is not advised to trick ride on a horse that has not been trained by a trick riding professional, nor is it wise to outfit your regular saddle with trick riding straps. There are books and videos that promote self-teaching, but trustworthy trick riding professionals will always advise newcomers to seek in-person training or supervision.
Because of the level of risk involved, it is best to have a professional trick rider supervising you and your horse. Some trick riders are willing to take on students, some are not. We are now offering clinics and lessons around our performance schedule.
Trick riders, like their horses, come from all walks of life. It is helpful for a trick rider to have a background in dance, gymnastics, and/or a similar physical discipline, but it is not limited to a certain type of individual.
Trick riders must possess physical strength and athletic agility. They must be able to execute pull-ups, push-ups, and use their muscles to hold or pull more weight than their own body weight. When a horse is running, you are pulling yourself against the resistance of their speed. Trick riders must be flexible, not only to maneuver precarious positions but to also minimize injury. A strong sense of balance is also helpful.
The Trixie Chicks maintain a consistent exercise and weight-training program to remain in top physical shape. This helps us reduce our risk of injury.
We are not currently taking on any new riders for our team, but we do offer trick riding clinics around the country if you are interested in learning how to become a professional trick rider.
We enjoy helping teach not only the sport, but how to go about getting your start in the performance industry. We have several performances a year where we try to include our students so they can learn how to prepare, organize, and perform at an event.
We actually get this question a lot and here is our advice:
Staying in the saddle will help improve confidence in the saddle.
We do not recommend attempting trick riding in order to improve overall riding confidence. Trick riding is a specialized discipline that best suits already confident, advanced-level riders with advanced-level horses that fit the "trick riding bill."
Think of it this way: It's almost like saying, "I want to learn how to ride a bicycle better, so I think I'll get a motorcycle."