Horse riding is a great form of exercise which has both cardiovascular and muscle conditioning benefits. Although it may seem as though the rider is not engaging in any physical exercise, an hour’s activity can burn similar calories to that of a 45 minute jog or cycle ride. Therefore, all the health benefits associated with engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise are gained
After your first ride you may feel muscles that you never knew you had! This is due to the movement of the horse and its effect on the rider during the ride. As the rider reacts to the horse’s movements to avoid becoming off balance, the deep postural muscles of the trunk and pelvis and the adductor muscles of the thighs are continuously being conditioned
The benefits of horseback riding
Many people think that when riding a horse the horse does all the work but that is not true. A 160 lb. adult riding twice a week will burn about 1,000 calories and a 200 pound person will burn about 1,200 calories. That’s the same as walking quickly for 50 minutes, five days per week
Keeping in balance on the back of a horse uses isometrics, where your muscles work against each other to maintain an upright position. Riding reaches the deep postural muscles of the trunk and pelvis and the adductor muscles of the thighs. During a rising trot you also use your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutei. People with urinary complaints get better. Riding helps increases the respiratory and circulatory systems as well as cardiovascular system. Seniors who started riding had far less urinary complaints because of the exercise and the stimulation of the urinary track and circulatory systems, helping keep the kidneys flushed
Just as your muscles need exercise so does your mind, and following directions at the same time as operating different body parts is a great way to keep your mind sharp. Research has shown that riding helps prevent memory loss. It is an active avenue for keeping your brain exercised, and keeping the connection between the brain and muscles working well as you must learn to give your horse instructions by using your brain that must then transfer the instructions to your muscles and other parts of the body in order for the horse to understand what it must do
As people grow older they have a tendency to do less and less. Riding is a year round activity that helps keep you outside in a healthy atmosphere and continues to let your world expand. If riding is something new to you it will also introduce you to a new group of people and a new way to meet friends. Riding is helpful for reducing stress in the body and mind and doing something new that you can be successful at
For many a horse is a connection with nature whether they ride in the ring or down the trail. Many people find companionship and solace while working with their horse. Although riding can present its frustrations and challenges, most people find it a relaxing pastime. The camaraderie of people who enjoy similar activities is also appealing. It’s fun to get together with friends for a lesson, team endeavour such as mounted games or drill riding, or a trail ride
If you crave solitude, riding can provide that as well. Many horse owners feel their horse is somewhat of a kindred spirit in tune with their own feelings and emotions; more so than any human companion. In times of stress a horse can be a quiet friend, who is without judgment or guile
No horses necessary!
The best thing about taking up horseback riding is that you can do it without having to go to the expense of buying a horse or any expensive clothing or equipment. Any decent local riding school will have riding lessons and equipment for hire so you can get a feel for the sport. For a comprehensive list of riding schools, and to find one near you, go to sites like worldofhorses.co.uk or horse-riding.net. Of course we can’t guarantee that you won’t fall in love with horseback riding and want your own horse! That’s when it starts to get expensive……
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