Horseback riding is so many different things to so many different people. For some people it is for recreational purposes, for others, it is a form of exercise. But for a few, it is the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding that takes them to the tracks. So, if you’re dealing with any physical or emotional trauma, horse riding might just be the thing you need.
So what are the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding? Horseback riding has a lot of therapeutic benefits, below is a list of six key benefits you can get from riding a horse. However, before going further, let’s take a quick look at how horse riding has evolved over the last few years and how it has helped people with varying needs.
The use of horse riding as a form of healing is a practice known as equine-assisted therapy and of course, it might sound obsolete and unconventional but it really works. The use of horse riding as a form of therapy can be dated back to when the ancient Greeks used it to help people with incurable illnesses. It was also used for people with low morale and even neurological disorders, surprisingly true!
According to Wikipedia, riding for the disabled developed as a form of recreation in the United States. It was also used as a means of motivation for education apart from its therapeutic benefits. The Cheff Therapeutic Riding center for the handicapped was established in 1969 in Michigan and till date, remains the oldest center specifically for disabled people in the United States. Not any horse is used for this practice though. Most times, horses are trained and selected specifically for the purpose of therapy. The best horses used for therapy usually have some common characters.
They are calm and have a good body build with proper balance as well. Muscling and gait are sometimes considered but not to a large extent. Horses that show signs of laziness are most times not considered for the purpose of therapy. Horses used for this purpose must also be taken care of properly for them to be able to give the best results. Just like humans need good welfare to function optimally in whatever they do. There really isn’t much scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of horseback riding in improving mental and physical health, but hey, there is no harm in trying right?
So why don’t we look at some of the benefits horse riding might actually offer so that we can be convinced to at least give it a try? Here are some of the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding you should know about.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Horseback Riding
Horse Riding Teaches You To Forgive.
Horse riding breeds people who learn to forgive and let go. Not everything ends up as planned in life and horse riding isn’t any different. Professional horse riders aren’t all so perfect thus can’t always win all races. Dealing well with the disappointment of losing in a horse race is a key ability horse rider have such that they learn to forgive themselves and their horses.
Horse Riding Teaches You To Be Patient.
Trying out horse riding for the first time might not be the easiest thing you do and might not be as straightforward as it seems. It might take a while to get a hang of the skill and be in full control of your horse. So, you might have to sit back, take a breath and try again. But trust me, the patience learned during horse riding would be a treasure you can make use of in other aspects of your life.
- Horse Riding Helps Improve Your Focus.
When riding your horse, you are forced to close your mind to everything else at that particular moment and focus on getting the best out of your horse. Horse riding demands your full attention and focus. So, if your mind wanders while you are horse riding, don’t be surprised to see your horse wandering about as well. In short, horse riding takes your mind off all your troubles so you can have a wonderful ride with a clear and focused mind.
- Horse Riding Teaches You About Trust.
I am sure you know that once you climb on the back of the horse, you are putting all your trust in a 200-pound animal to follow your instructions and keep you safe during riding. Don’t forget that the horse also trusts you not to lead her astray. This might actually help you in having more faith in people and believing they won’t disappoint you.
- A Good Horse Riding Leaves You With A Sense Of Accomplishment.
As we all know, doing things right makes you feel good and riding is no different. Having a good horse-riding experience might just provide that much-needed confidence boost that you need. Of course, if you are new to horse riding you will need to take your time and learn gradually but you will discover that the better you get at horse riding, the more confidence you will have in yourself in being able to do anything you set your mind on to achieve. You can then channel this positive energy to other areas of your life and see how a lot will improve.
- Horse Riding Helps Improve One’s Ability To Take Care Of Others.
Horse riding or better still, Equine therapy to a very great extent helps you develop your selflessness because you not only have to take care of yourself but also your horse. A lot of horse riders see their horses as the only ones they can really share their emotions with be it anger, happiness or sadness. Your horse will always be there for you and once you channel this love back love to your horse, you will be able to show more care to the people around you.
Should You Try It?
In general, the goal of equine therapy is to help the patient develop a variety of skills such as responsibility, self-confidence, interpersonal relationships, and even self-actualization. It is said that many of the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding are due to the nature of the animals that are used for the therapy which is why some specific characters are needed in the horses to be used for the therapy.
Equine therapy has also been reported to help out adults and teens who are being treated for substance abuse, addiction, behavior disorders, mood disorders, depression and many more.
The only way to personally verify these claims is for you to actually try it out yourself. Just like the popular saying goes ‘experience is the best teacher’. So why not give it a try and see if it works for you? It just might be one of the best decisions you would ever make!