As industrialisation set in in the 20th century, the animal gradually lost its usefulness in the fields, on the roads and in the wars. At the same time, it grew more and more a medium of sport, leisure and play. The horse was therefore used no longer for necessity, but for recreation. The change of lifestyle thus gave rise to a change in the animal's condition in society. While the aristocratic elite of the 19th century was already distinguished by the leisure use of the horse, a phenomenon of diffusion took place, whereby the animal left the higher social strata for the benefit of the middle class as well. The horse became a means of entertainment.
A distinctive practice of the elite of the 19th century, horse riding fell from the higher social strata to spread to the middle class in the 20th century.
In addition, from the interwar period onwards, riding gradually shifted from the military to the civilian realm. Horse clubs therefore replaced the barracks and state-certified monitors the cavalry officers. The Cadre Noir de Saumur perfectly illustrates this change. Born from an exclusively military context, it moved under the Ministry of Sports in 1969. The horse was no longer the preserve of military or aristocratic "horsemen", but rather a new form of rider, a mostly young-woman city-dwelling member of the middle class. In 1984, the French Equestrian Federation had 145,071 members compared to 705,783 in 2011, including 580,000 women (the vast majority younger than 18).Today, faced with the competition and practice of the three disciplines arising from cavalry training (dressage, show jumping and three-day events), new riders' desire for a return to nature has increased the number of equestrian practices (treks, work riding, natural horsemanship, etc.).