When most people think about horse riding, they imagine the horse doing all the work and the rider just sits there and relishes the ride. Well, horseback riding is a lot different from driving a car in the sense that it requires not only skill and mental alertness but also a good physique.
Whether you plan to ride competitively or just for fun, horseback riding can be a great way to burn excess calories, build your stamina and also an opportunity to learn something exotic.
So without further ado, let’s look at 10 things we benefit from horseback riding.
Benefits of Horseback Riding
- Improves Overall Strength
This is one of the most amazing benefits of horseback riding. Horseback riding is a sport that builds the entire body. If you’ve watched horse riding competitions, you’ll notice that all the competitors are fit and strong. That is because mounting a horse and controlling it with the reins take a lot of energy. As you get familiar with riding a horse, you will notice an increase in your overall strength and you will find it easier to keep your horse within your control.
Simply riding a horse can increase the strength in your glutes, thighs and tone your abs. Additionally, horseback riding can help you build your balance and achieve better core strength. Most consistent riders come to notice that their pelvic, abdominal, and back muscles become stronger and more stable after riding.
Another part of your body that horseback riding improves is your quadriceps and hamstrings. A study once compared the quadriceps and hamstrings of riders with those who did not ride and found out that riders possess a better physique and stronger quadriceps and hamstrings. This is not surprising as horseback riding engages your core and your legs.
- Burns Calories
There are many exercises out there that could help you burn off a lot of excess calories in a short amount of time. However, only a few of these exercises are really fun to do. If you find yourself slacking or failing to meet up with your exercise routine just because it isn’t much fun to do, you should try out horseback riding.
Horseback riding has been shown to burn off hundreds of calories and it is considered a moderate-intensity exercise. This is really impressive since you would be sitting during most of the exercise. The number of calories burned would depend on the type of horseback riding activity and the time. Trotting (a form of horse riding) for 30 minutes has been shown to burn around360 calories. If you would get your horse to canter or gallop and you sit up on the saddle, you might burn more calories depending on how far the horse runs.
- Balance and Stability
Riding a horse is all about maintaining balance. Whether you’re hoping to compete or you’re just doing it for fun, you would need to know how to balance yourself properly while the horse is moving or you would fall off and get injured.
This makes horseback riding a great sport for individuals who are trying to improve their balance and their overall fitness.
Furthermore, you also get to improve your sitting posture. To ride a horse properly, you would need to maintain a good posture at all times. A good posture eliminates stress on the back which improves your balance and prevents pain or discomfort at the back and neck.
- Improves flexibility
To mount a horse, you can either stand on a platform for support or you can mount it straight off the ground. However, throwing your leg over a horse’s torso isn’t an easy task even if it looks so in the movies. You would need to be incredibly flexible for you to mount a horse off the ground without landing on your back.
The good news is, as you consistently try, your hips, legs, and upper body will improve in terms of flexibility.
- Improves Coordination
As said earlier, horseback riding is not just about you seating back on the saddle while the horse does all the work. To get the horse to move, stop or obey any other command, you will have to be coordinated and give the horse the right command. To get your horse to walk, trot, canter or gallop, you would need to perform a lot of tasks. In fact, controlling the speed of the horse would require a lot of coordination rather than just pulling on the reins.
You will have to know how to coordinate your leg pressure, rein pressure and body position at the same time. While this would be pretty difficult for the first time, most riders find it easy after riding for a while.
The benefit is that you get to be more coordinated in almost all areas of your life and probably more patient. Patience is very important if you want to learn how to make your horse heed your command.
- Problem Solving
In today’s world, having the ability to solve problems very fast is a blessing and would get a job in almost any organization and help you become very successful. When it comes to horseback riding, having this ability is important and if you don’t, you can use this activity to develop yours. ‘
While the activity may seem fairly easy from afar, things can go awry and in that split second, your decision would determine if you would remain safe and in control or at risk of injury.
Knowing when to pull the reins and apply leg pressure to slow the horse down or get the horse to maneuver is very important and at certain times like during road rides or while the horse is at high speed it could be extremely necessary. To make these decisions, you would need to be alert and have full control of the horse. Also, you will have to stay calm at all times as panicking would cause your horse to go off on its own.
- Reduces Anxiety
If you’ve been taking walks to cool off and get your thoughts in order, then you should try out horseback riding. While walks are good enough for most people, horseback riding is considered perfect. It lets you get the fresh air and exercise you need to get your heart pumping and it also helps you stay relaxed.
While riding, you will be extremely far from the causes of your anxiety or the thoughts eating you up which brings calmness to your entire system.
However, this benefit can only be enjoyed by riders who have some sort of experience. If you’re still struggling to mount or control your horse, you might find it more frustrating than relaxing.
- Improves Mental State
Of all the benefits of horseback riding this one appeals to me. According to several studies, spending time with animals could raise levels of the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin, but that isn’t the only benefit you will get mentally from horseback riding. While riding a horse, you will have to maintain your balance, while giving the horse the right orders and watching out for warning signs to ensure that the horse stays in line at all times. Doing all this is a mental process that requires you to think fast and act fast while remaining calm.
If you’re a consistent rider, you get to improve your mental alertness and develop an ability to maintain your calm and control even in trying circumstances.
- Stress Management
As said earlier, horseback riding could help you control anxiety and manage stress, but it could do so much more by preventing stress before it happens. For some people, stress comes as a result of how they react to situations, especially in difficult situations.
As a horseback rider, you will have better mental capacity and ability to stay in control during trying times as you would with your horse while it is at top speed.
Staying calm and focusing on the solutions is one of the best ways to deal with stress and that is about the same with horseback riding. To be a better rider, you would have to remain calm at all times and stay focused on the commands you’re giving to your horse and the behavior of the horse. You could apply this to your everyday life and the situations that are likely to get you stressed out.
- Meet New People
There are lots of people riding horses and as a horse rider, you get to meet and associate with these people. There are also many horse riding clubs. You can pick out one of them and become a part of the community. If you’re an introvert, this would be a great way to make new friends or meet people that enjoy doing something you love.
Horseback riding is extremely fun and if you’re feeling like an expert, you could compete in the numerous horseback riding competitions hosted every year. You could also compete with your friends or members of your club to help you become better and more skilled at riding. There are so many benefits of horseback riding, and the better you are at riding your horse, the more of these benefits you’ll enjoy.