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The term equestrianism relates to the riding of horses. This is a broad description and includes both riding horses for practical purposes such as in police work or for controlling herd animals on a ranch, as well as recreational and sporting aspects such as horse riding sports, dressage, show jumping, eventing and polo. Other horse riding retreations include horse-racing, hunting, fox hunting, rodeo, jousting and cavalry.

In former times equestrianism was closely associated with the military: mediaeval knights were equestrians, as were their military successors, the cavalry.