Elodie Degage

The Intersection of Equestrian Sports and Nursing: Lessons Learned from the Saddle to the Scrub

Hello, everyone! My name is Ellie Degage, and I am a Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. Over the years, I’ve had the unique opportunity to blend two seemingly different worlds: equestrian sports and nursing. Growing up, my love for horses and riding played a significant role in shaping who I am today. As I transitioned into nursing, I realized how much the lessons from my equestrian experiences influenced my approach to patient care and professional development. Today, I want to share some of these valuable lessons and how they have helped me navigate my nursing career.

Discipline and Commitment

One of the most fundamental lessons I learned from equestrian sports is the importance of discipline and commitment. Riding horses requires consistent practice, attention to detail, and a commitment to both the rider’s and the horse’s well-being. This dedication translates seamlessly into nursing. The discipline I developed through daily riding routines and training sessions has helped me maintain a high level of professionalism and focus in my nursing duties. Whether it’s adhering to strict medical protocols or committing to ongoing education, the discipline from the saddle has been invaluable.

Patience and Understanding

Working with horses teaches you patience. Horses, like patients, have their own personalities and needs. They can be unpredictable, requiring a calm and patient approach to build trust and cooperation. In nursing, patience is equally crucial. Every patient is different, and understanding their unique needs and concerns is essential for providing effective care. The patience I cultivated in equestrian sports has helped me remain calm and compassionate, even in high-stress situations.

Communication and Teamwork

Effective communication is key in both equestrian sports and nursing. As a rider, you must communicate clearly with your horse, often through subtle cues and body language. Similarly, in nursing, clear communication with patients, their families, and your healthcare team is vital. The ability to convey information accurately and empathetically can significantly impact patient outcomes. Additionally, both fields require strong teamwork. In equestrian sports, you often work with trainers, vets, and other riders. In nursing, collaborating with doctors, fellow nurses, and support staff ensures comprehensive patient care. My experiences in equestrian sports have honed my communication skills and reinforced the importance of teamwork.

Problem-Solving and Adaptability

Horses can be unpredictable, presenting riders with unexpected challenges. This requires quick thinking and adaptability, qualities that are just as important in nursing. Medical emergencies and unexpected patient responses demand swift problem-solving skills. The ability to adapt to new situations and find creative solutions has been a cornerstone of my nursing practice. Whether it’s adjusting a treatment plan or responding to a sudden change in a patient’s condition, the problem-solving skills I developed in the saddle have been instrumental.

Physical Fitness and Stamina

Riding horses is physically demanding. It requires balance, strength, and endurance. Maintaining physical fitness is crucial for handling the rigors of equestrian sports. This physical preparation has greatly benefited my nursing career. Nursing is a physically demanding profession, often involving long hours, lifting patients, and staying on your feet for extended periods. The stamina and fitness I developed through riding have helped me meet these physical demands and maintain my energy levels throughout my shifts.

Emotional Resilience

Both equestrian sports and nursing require a high level of emotional resilience. Handling a large, powerful animal requires confidence and the ability to manage fear and anxiety. Similarly, nursing can be emotionally taxing, dealing with critical situations, patient suffering, and sometimes loss. Building emotional resilience through equestrian sports has equipped me with the mental fortitude to handle the emotional challenges of nursing. It has taught me the importance of self-care and finding healthy ways to manage stress.

Attention to Detail

Success in equestrian sports often hinges on attention to detail. From grooming and saddling to understanding the nuances of your horse’s behavior, small details can make a big difference. This meticulousness is directly applicable to nursing, where attention to detail is critical. Administering medications accurately, monitoring patient vitals, and maintaining detailed medical records all require a high level of precision. The detail-oriented mindset I developed in equestrian sports has been a significant asset in my nursing practice.

Building Trust and Relationships

Building a relationship of trust with a horse takes time and consistency. It’s about understanding their needs, providing consistent care, and fostering a bond. In nursing, building trust with patients is just as important. Patients need to feel confident in your abilities and trust that you have their best interests at heart. The experience of building trust with horses has taught me the importance of empathy, reliability, and consistency in patient care. Establishing strong relationships with patients not only improves their experience but also enhances their overall health outcomes.

Lifelong Learning

Equestrian sports are a journey of continuous learning. There is always something new to learn, whether it’s a new riding technique, a better way to care for your horse, or understanding the latest in equine health. This commitment to lifelong learning has carried over into my nursing career. The medical field is constantly evolving, and staying updated with the latest advancements and best practices is crucial. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning ensures that I can provide the best possible care to my patients.


The intersection of equestrian sports and nursing may not be immediately obvious, but the lessons learned from the saddle have profoundly shaped my approach to nursing. Discipline, patience, communication, problem-solving, physical fitness, emotional resilience, attention to detail, building trust, and a commitment to lifelong learning are all qualities that have enhanced my nursing practice. I am grateful for the experiences and skills I have gained from both worlds, and I believe they have made me a more compassionate, competent, and resilient nurse. For anyone navigating a high-pressure career, I encourage you to draw on all your experiences, even those that may seem unrelated. You never know how they might enrich your professional journey.

Thank you for reading, and I hope my insights can inspire and support others in their careers.

Warm regards,

Ellie Degage

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