While exercise might be one of the most obvious health benefits of horseback riding there are many other reasons to take up this fantastic pastime. Not only does it have numerous physical benefits but horseback riding can have positive psychological health factors as well.
From relaxation through to core strength, from stress relief to endurance, there are many wonderful health benefits which come from working with and riding horses.
Our friends from Equi Supermarket, an online source of horse equipment, have narrowed it down to their top ten choices.
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- It’s good physical exercise
To a non-rider it can appear as if all you have to do is sit on the horse and it will do all the work for you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Riding a horse takes physical strength and stamina as horses won’t go anywhere without the rider working hard to guide them.
So horse riding is great physical exercise as you will soon realise after a ride, when you get off and give you muscles a chance to relax and ache! Light horse riding burns up as many calories as any other form of light exercise.
- It gives you a stronger core
Staying balanced and stopping yourself from bouncing in the saddle helps to strengthen your core and is a great work out for all of your abdominal muscles so if you are trying to get a washboard stomach and flat abs, horse riding is the perfect choice.
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- It gives you better posture
The way you need to balance in the saddle will help to strengthen your core and legs which helps to improve your posture when you are out of the saddle as well. The more you ride the better your posture is likely to become.
- It improves your muscle tone
As well as your core muscles, riding a horse will help to strengthen and work your thigh, pelvic and back muscles due to the constant movement required to stay balanced on the horse. You will also get a good workout when you are mucking out and grooming the horse as well so your overall muscle tone will improve from your involvement at the stables.
- It makes you stronger
All of this extra muscle work, along with activities such as pushing wheelbarrows and carrying heavy saddles will help to increase your overall strength and stamina. As you get fitter by riding regularly you will see your strength and endurance levels increasing.
- It improves your co-ordination and balance
Horses can move and turn very quickly and you will need to make sure you can control your own balance and stay on the horse securely with every twist and turn he might make. At first you might grab the saddle but as you get more experienced you will be able to do this using your own muscle tone and co-ordination.
- It helps to improve your focus
Horse riding requires a great deal of concentration and focus as you need to be aware of the horse’s movements as well as what is going on around you and where you are headed, particularly if you are riding through a woodland for example where you have to watch out for branches.
So it demands a high level of mental awareness and takes your mind out of any problems or issues you might have been worrying about, to bring you straight into the moment, helping with mindfulness and focus.
- It can help with stress relief
Spending time with animals is good for our emotions and can provide relief from our everyday stresses and strains, releasing serotonin and making us feel good again. Riding takes you out of your daily grind and into the outdoors which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
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- It can boost social connections
Riding is a social activity as you are generally riding in a group or as part of a lesson with others so it can help to create new social connections and reduce social isolation. Connecting with a horse is also proven to provide a boost of confidence and happiness so horse riding can have amazing psychological health benefits for those struggling with loneliness or depression-related problems.
- It can help you to reconnect with nature
Generally, horse riding involves leaving the riding school and heading out into the woods or the countryside so it can help to get you out of the house and reconnecting with nature and the world around your, which can again help to get you out of your daily routine and relieve stress and worry. It’s also a great way to get some fresh air into your lungs and help you to relax and enjoy everything that nature has to offer. Taking in a great view from the saddle can put everything into perspective in life.