The Top Ten Benefits of Taking up Horse Riding
Horses are probably our oldest form of transport. Before the age of the automobile, people used horses to get around with nearly everyone being taught to care for and ride a horse.
Today, it is a recreational past-time or sport – and certainly not cheap.
But where there are many obvious health benefits to riding, including strong core and legs, there are also many less obvious benefits, such as a boost in confidence and meditation.
Horse riding provides good exercise
A light trot uses up enough calories to qualify as moderate intensity exercise, burning over 400 calories an hour helping with weight loss while increasing muscle strength without building bulk. Riding for 30 minutes, 3 times per week exceeds the recommended minimum level of physical activity
To stay balanced and keep from bouncing too much in the saddle, the rider has to use their core muscles. This is a set of isometric exercises where specific muscles are targeted to stay in a certain position.
As a result of sitting in these specific poses to keep balanced, it’s likely that your posture out of the saddle will improve the more regularly you ride.
In addition to the core, you’ll get a good work out in your back, your inner thighs, stomach, shoulder and pelvic muscles. This is mainly because of the importance in the sport of maintaining a good position, while adjusting to the horse’s gait to help both you and your horse keep balance. Horse riding covers many muscles – with first time riders saying it uses muscles they didn’t even know they had! Our own H-Joint & Muscle Formula is the natural remedy for all joint and muscle pain and discomfort, providing quick but gentle relief.
Balance and co-ordination
As the horse moves and turns with speed, you have to quickly learn to support yourself. At first you can hold on to the front of the saddle but, the more you do it, the faster you will learn how to keep upright without holding on.
With all of this going on simultaneously, it’s a lot for your brain to take in and stay focused on the task at hand. Furthermore, both exercise and spending time with animals are believed to raise levels of the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin and other endorphins, so it’s good for your body, brain and emotions. In fact…
Horse riding can give an emotional connection
Including compassion and happiness that can be hard for non horsey people to understand. Horse riding can even become addictive, giving the rider a buzz.
Horse riding gets you outside and into the fresh air
Out of the saddle with your feet firmly back on the ground, you’ll continue getting a good work out by doing other horsey activities. Whether you’re mucking out, grooming, pushing wheelbarrows and carrying buckets you’ll be burning calories and improving your strength as well.
Horses are even used in therapy for children
Just riding a horse at a walk stimulates the internal organs, aiding liver function and digestion. This makes horse riding great therapy for the physically or mentally challenged. I volunteered at a Riding for the Disabled facility for several years when I was living in Cape Town, South Africa, and loved my weekly afternoon sessions helping. The children who came to ride soon overcame any fears and the horses (obviously chosen for their quieter temperaments) seemed to sense that they had to take care of their riders. Horses have the ability to heal us whether it be a broken heart, illness or a disability – horse therapy is highly recommended for those with autism.
I took up riding back in the 1980s when my young son was having lessons. My daughter and some of my grandchildren have followed in our foot steps. All of us have enjoyed our chance of taking up horse riding – without exception.