Horseback riding is a sport that can make you feel happier, healthier, and more balanced.
Indeed, hopping into the saddle can bring you measurable benefits, whether you’re looking for an incredible mood-boosting activity or something that makes you sweat.
Thanks to its physical rigors, problem-solving requirements, and the fresh air factor, horseback riding has been used as a form of therapy for many conditions, including (but not limited to) cerebral palsy, autism, anxiety, traumatic brain injuries and depression.
There are countless reasons why going for a ride helps you thrive. Here are a few of our favorite health benefits of horseback riding:
✅Stronger Muscles and Core
All equestrian experiences provide a full-body workout. Specifically, riding is classified as an isometric exercise, meaning it requires you to contract certain muscles or muscle groups to keep your body in a specific position.
Horseback riding can help you achieve better core strength and balance because it is a form of static strength training. After riding, you’ll notice that your abdominal, pelvic, and back muscles have become stronger and more stable.
Related Post: 6 Core Training Exercises for Equestrians
✅Better Balance and Alignment
Another benefit of isometric exercises is that they help you achieve better balance. Proper technique requires you to maintain balance and stay in control while mounted — even a slight shift in stability could throw you off your horse and put you at risk of injury.
Simultaneously, proper riding requires proper posture. While you’re getting used to riding, you’ll be focused on maintaining good alignment, which then becomes second nature.
Having a properly aligned spine eliminates stress on the back, which can prevent pain, tightness, and discomfort at the back and neck.
✅All-Around Good Exercise
Riding horseback isn’t just a conditioning activity for your equine friend, it’s also one for you. In addition to the above physical benefits, riding horseback can help condition the whole body.
The activity requires you to engage your core and your legs, which helps you work out your thighs and pelvic muscles. One study showed that young riders had stronger quadriceps and hamstrings compared with those of the same age who did not ride.
Consistent riding can also improve your cardiovascular conditioning. Moderately-paced rides accelerate your heart rate and exercise your ticker!
Related Post: Keeping Fit and Flexible for Horseback Riding
When you’re practicing any exercise that focuses on muscle strength and toning, you’re going to burn calories. The experts say that riding at a walk, trot or canter for 45 minutes can burn up to 200 calories.
When you increase the pace to something a bit more demanding, such as cutting or reining, you can add as much as seven extra calories per minute.
This fact makes riding an excellent option for anyone who wants to get into shape, burn calories, and lose weight.
Related post: 5 Reasons Horseback Riding is Good Exercise
One of the many reasons why horseback riding is designated as an ideal therapy for many conditions is because it can be used as a solo activity.
Those who prefer a quiet, meditative exercise will find independent trail riding a soothing way to become more mindful.
When monitored from afar, it’s also a great way to encourage youngsters to explore and exercise on their own, especially if they have particular issues with independence or anxiety.
✅A Part of the Community
One of the most beautiful things about this activity is that it’s quite versatile — it can be done in complete solitude or as part of the pack. When you find your ideal equestrian community, you instantly become a part of the family.
As a rule, riders are generally welcoming and open to newcomers, so they’re happy to help you integrate. You can also use communal or group rides as a wonderful way to bond with those around you and to make stronger personal connections.
✅The Fresh Air Factor
We all know that getting outside more is good for our mental and physical health, no matter what your preferred activity may be.
Fresh air offers many measurable benefits, including a stronger immune system, boosted energy levels, and prevention from certain conditions, including upper respiratory symptoms.
Trail riding is especially ideal for the fresh air seeker looking for a bit of a rider’s high, especially when you journey somewhere particularly breathtaking.
Hopping into the saddle leads to an instant rise in mood-improving endorphins and other happiness hormones.
✅ Reduced Stress, More Happiness
It’s true: horseback riders are generally happier than the rest of us. There are many reasons for this.
First, any physical activity triggers the body to release certain hormones that can boost your mood for the better, contributing to the aforementioned rider’s high. But unlike other euphoria-triggering physical workouts, horseback riding adds in animal interaction.
Study after study has shown that interacting with animals is good for us and provides us with a feeling of safety, comfort, and contentedness.
Related Post: 10 Postpartum Exercises to Get You Back in the Saddle
✅Better Cognitive Function
If you’re looking for a new hobby that helps make you smarter, hopping on the horse may be a good place to start.
A recent study showed that riding horses can improve a child’s cognitive ability. The theory is that vibrations produced by horses are thought to activate the sympathetic nervous system, which can improve learning.
This makes equine therapy particular appealing to those with behavioral issues (such as ADHD) or anyone looking for a natural cognitive boost.
✅ Conditioning the Body and Mind While Having Fun
While it’s great to talk about the many ways our hooved companions can contribute to better health, we must remember that horseback riding is also meant to be fun!
There’s no thrill quite as joy-inducing as saddling up and meandering along a scenic trail. The next time you’re looking for a health-boosting activity (that’s also heaps of fun), consider heading to the stables.
Here’s a quick review of the health benefits of horseback riding:
- Stronger Muscles and Core
- Better Balance and Alignment
- All-Around Good Exercise
- Burns Calories
- Greater Independence
- A Part of the Community
- The Fresh Air Factor
- Reduced Stress, More Happiness
- Better Cognitive Function
- Conditioning the Body and Mind While Having Fun