Before we all had cars to drive in, people used horses to get around, and almost everyone was taught to care and ride a horse. Today, our dependence on these large mammals is non-existent and horseback riding has become recreational. There are many obvious health benefits to riding, including strong core and legs, but there are also many less obvious benefits, such as boost in confidence and meditation. Horses are even used in therapy for mentally disabled children- which only proves further how healthy they are!
Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world and Health Fitness Revolution’s top list of the health benefits of horseback riding:
Body Awareness: Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk: the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. However, it’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well. The more you ride, the more the body learns to move with the horse.
Quick Thinking: riding a large, powerful animal with a mind and agenda of its own is a full-body workout that will force you to engage muscles you didn’t know existed and be constantly adjusting to the form of the animal.
Coordination: There are many movements that need to happen simultaneously while riding for the horse to be properly guided- this is what coordination consists of. Therapeutic riding programs for the sight-impaired have had a lot of success developing better coordination.
Core Strength: Horseback riding is an isometric exercise, which means it uses specific muscles to stay in certain positions, in this case, keeping balanced on the horse. Because of this, postural strength is very important when riding and the posture of riders improves even in day to day activities.
Muscle Tone and Flexibility: Along with the core muscles, the inner thighs and pelvic muscles get the biggest workout as a rider positions himself or herself. Riders often have to maintain a squatting position while they ride, constantly adjusting to the cadence of the horse. This exercise helps with good overall muscle tone and flexibility.
Stable Strength: Riding is not the only way this activity gives the body a workout. Working in a barn and taking care of a horse strengthens muscles and increases cardiovascular capacity.
Mental exercise: There are so many mental benefits to horseback riding. Not only do you really learn about yourself as you experience time on a horse but it can also have a meditative effect because for the time being, the only focus is on riding and staying on the horse. While horseback riding is a great exercise, there is a real benefit i the connection with the animal and the peace of mind that comes with every ride.