A horse ride a day keeps the doctor away.
What? You’ve never heard that before? Well, it might just be about to catch on.
That’s right - our research has turned up evidence suggesting that there are plenty of health benefits from horse riding. As equine enthusiasts, we’re certainly all ears. Read on for some of our main finds.
You’ll get a surprisingly deep workout.
What better way to get those washboard abs? Anyone who’s ever ridden a horse can tell you that you don’t stay balanced by simply sitting still. Horse-riding provides an intense isometric workout, engaging the deep postural muscles of your trunk.
It can tone muscles you didn’t even know existed.
In a study commissioned by the British Horse Society (BHS), horse-riding was classified as a ‘moderate-intensity workout for your muscles - from grooming, mucking out to actually riding.
We’re not claiming that you’re going to look like Mr Schwarzenegger after one ride, but equine activities certainly provide some serious muscular conditioning. Adjusting to the horse’s gait, for instance, gives your back, inner thighs and pelvic muscles a real burn. Without having to constantly recruit these muscles, you’d fall off the horse.
It’s a mood-enhancing activity.
Any type of exercise releases endorphins, which react with receptors in your brain to provide a feeling of ‘euphoria, which is often referred to as ‘runner’s high’ (though we prefer ‘equine ecstasy’). The BHS claim that more than 80% of horse riders report feeling ‘cheerful, happy, relaxed and active’ after a ride.
It’s quite therapeutic.
Although perhaps not so much for the beginners on their first, somewhat petrifying ride, experienced riders cite horse-riding to be extremely therapeutic. A connection with your horse can have a tranquilising effect, with their company in the great outdoors providing a sense of escapism. The company of your horse, even when simply grooming, can lead to an increase in serotonin, another feel-good chemical. The surge in popularity of ‘therapeutic riding programs’ is a testament to the superpowers of horse riding.
It builds your confidence.
There’s a lot to be said about bonding with a horse, learning about it and handling it. Horse-riding involves managing, manoeuvring and companionship with a massive beast: unsurprisingly, those who become adept at it find it boosts their self-esteem as they improve.
As a professional international 3* eventer and horse trainer, Hazel Towers knows a fair few things about horse-backed exercise. For Hazel, the achievements you make with your horse not only boost your confidence whilst providing a full-body workout, but also mean that riding never really becomes a chore:
"Riding horses is one of the best forms of exercise for all-over fitness that I have found. It not only focuses your attention on your core strength and balance but also is a great cardio workout. Working in a partnership with your horse to achieve goals also means that it doesn't even feel like exercise."
You make great friends - both equine and human.
As well as the friendship with your horse, riding communities are incredibly enthusiastic about what they do, providing a passionate and enriching social circle. We’re confident that some of the best life-long equine and human friendships await at your local riding centre.
Who knew that horse-riding could provide such a comprehensive range of benefits to riders, physical as well as mental?