You may be just starting out into this wonderful hobby, and need a few reasons to nudge you into the saddle a bit quicker. You might be persuading a friend to come out hacking with you, and they have demanded proof about this strange thing that keeps you occupied and so happy. Or maybe you are trying to explain to a baffled partner or parent why you choose to spend your time with a four legged animal instead of them!
Whatever your reasons, it’s always great to know that there are a great many benefits to your favorite pastime, both mental and physical.
What You'll Learn Today
1. It’s A Great Workout
Riding itself activates various muscles in your body, especially your core and your glutes. You have to be relatively fit and strong to do it, after all you are controlling a 1,200lb animal using just your body and your voice! Riding at a walk stimulates the internal organs in the same way that walking on foot does, which leads to good digestion and liver function, and riding in general is considered to be a good cardiovascular workout.
2. Stable Fitness
As well as the riding, there is lots of other physical exercise that goes along with owning a horse – there’s the mucking out, the poo-picking, the walking for miles and miles across the field when your horse won’t come to his name (there’s no need to tell a non-enthusiast about this bit, as it may put them off!) So if you are looking for a great physical exercise that tones your whole body, then horseriding is for you (just don’t forget to buy a good horse riding bra… ;))
3. It’s Fantastic For The Mind
There is nothing quite like being on a horse, in the depths of some beautiful forest, with the wind in your hair, to still the voices in your head and make your forget about the humdrum drudgery of everyday life. It can be a very meditative feeling, just you and your horse, feeling the rhythms of your body slip into sync as you ride along. Then he spooks at a plastic bag in the hedge and nearly throws you off – but again, don’t tell people this bit!
4. It’s A Really Good Way To Get Out And About In Nature
We are all told about the benefits of the fresh air and sunshine. Vitamin D is essential for our bodies, plus a bit of air when you’ve been cooped up in an office is so important! You can see some truly amazing things on horseback – and because you’re that bit taller on board you can catch a glimpse of some amazing views! There are also many fun things you can do while horseback riding, so it’s fair to say this hobby is far from boring.
5. It’s Really Good For Core Strength
This deserves mentioning again in more depth, as having a good strong core also translates to having a good strong back. So many of us suffer with back problems, that it is vital to make sure yours is as strong and healthy as it can be. Riding is an isometric exercise, which means that you are working on keeping muscles in one place. Like Pilates and other exercise like it, riding will build your strength gradually but you’ll never look back (except to check out the height of that jump you just cleared!)
6. It’s Challenging
This doesn’t sound like it should be a plus point, but really, what is life if you’re not trying new things and pushing your boundaries? Whether you are just learning to ride or you are taking your competitions more seriously, there is a lot to be gained from pushing yourself. You end up with a great sense of personal satisfaction, which in turn can help your mental state.
7. It’s Great For Co-ordination And Quick Thinking
Anyone who has ever had to open a gate from on board a horse, while trying to manoeuvre him through the tiny gap with the least amount of drama will agree! You have to be able to co-ordinate both your own movements and that of your horse, all the while being prepared to deal with any spooks or napping. Although it may sound a bit stressful, it’s actually great for your brain and your body.
8. It Teaches Responsibility
If it’s your children who are clamouring for riding lessons and their own pony, be reassured that it’s actually very good for them too. They will learn the art of taking care of another creature, and they will learn that they have to take responsibility for it. This will stand them in very good stead later in life. Also, there is the added bonus that if you have pony mad little ones, you can drop them off at the stables and enjoy a quiet few hours reading with a cup of tea!
Horse riding is undoubtedly good for you – just ask any horse rider! Both men and women who are around horse report feelings of calmness and well being, and report on riders studied their feelings of happiness after a ride – around 80% said they felt a positive change in their mood. Being around animals in general raises serotonin levels in people, and being around horses seems to do this even more – they are such wonderful creatures.
There is also the irreplaceable bond you feel with your “forever” horse that is akin to the way you feel around your best friend (although the horse doesn’t drink, and is not as good at gossip!) If you are looking for a few good reasons to show people why horse riding is good for you, then just show them this. If this doesn’t work, throw them in the saddle, they’ll understand soon enough!