To the untrained eye it can be hard to see all the health benefits of horse riding. Non riders and people unfamiliar with horse riding mostly see the horse working and do not appreciate the hard work and the associated health benefits that come with horse riding. As a horse rider I notice these benefits more when I spend some time out of the saddle. When this happens I always experience physical exhaustion, muscle soreness, and general stiffness as soon as I return to riding.
Horse riding can also have significant positive impact on peoples people help and is also regularly prescribed as a form of therapy.
One of the great things about horse riding is that it is a sport that you can do for your entire life. You can tailor the amount of exercise that you do depending on your age, mobility, and starting level of fitness. Here are some of the main benefits that I am aware of:
For me personally, this is the biggest benefit of horse riding. When I am riding it provides me with complete freedom from the everyday stress and issues that are going on in my life at any one time. When you ride it is hard to think about anything else and you are truly living in the moment. This is the same benefit that man people get when they practice mindfulness or meditation. Many people I know also speak about horse riding has helped them deal with anxiety and other issues such as depression
Other aspects of riding such as the physical exercise, being outside in the fresh air, and increased social interaction can all have a positive impact on mental health.
Horse riding (even for a short period) is sufficient to meet the recommended daily amount of exercise. Riding a horse can often be a surprisingly intense activity depending on the type of work you are doing and the length of time that you ride.
Riding the horse isn’t the only horse related exercise that we get. Grooming a horse, mucking out a stable, or loading a trailer are examples of just some of the types of tasks that people involved with horse riding often do. It may not seem like it but all these little tasks add up and are equal to a mini workout.
When we ride we use a number of different muscle groups. Good riders tend to have good core strength which allows them to have greater overall control. The core muscles mainly consist of the abdomen and back. Continuously riding will help you build up strong core muscles.
As riders we also use a number of different muscles such as arms, legs, and shoulders. If you have ever ridden a big strong horse you will know all about the leg and arm strength that is required to control them.
As mentioned above the amount of exercise that we do is not limited to when we are in the saddle. Tasks such as hauling hay, lifting saddles, heavy bags of feed, and shoveling go hand in hand with horse riding. Apart from burning calories these exercise are also a great way of increasing our strength
Horse riding can be done alone but it is just as fun when done with others. Joining a riding club, or meeting up and getting to know other riders and horse lovers is always fun. Social interaction is great for our overall mental health and there is a chance that you will also make some new friends for life.
Owning, riding, or just generally looking after a horse can teach us important lessons in responsibility. Horse care is part of riding and knowing how to look after a horse and keep them happy is something that you begin learning on your first day. Being responsible for such a large animal who has a a unique set of needs and requirements teaches us many lessons that can also benefit us in other areas of our lives.
I am always impressed by the maturity and confidence of many young riders. Especially when compared to their peers and I am sure that the responsibility that they have learned from horse riding is a significant factor in this development.
Balance & Mobility
Did you know that horse riding is often prescribed as a therapy for children who have fine motor skills and coordination development issues. This is because there is good evidence that horse riding stimulates cognition, mood, and gait parameters. Horse riding improves your overall coordination and will stand you in good stead for your whole life. The great thing about riding is that it can be done throughout your life and will help you maintain your balance and mobility as you get older.
For many people horse riding is a way of challenging themselves. Many people challenge themselves by setting goals such as learning to ride, jumping, dressage, or even just getting involved with horses. Goals like this are a great way of testing ourselves and can help you bring more focus and meaning to your life.
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Horse riding is an extremely complex sport and there are always things a rider can do to improve their skills. However to get better you need to be able to understand the areas where you are struggling and what you need to work on. Developing a mindset like this is an invaluable skill.
Some of these problem solving skills are made while you are in the saddle but more often than they are