As Winston Churchill famously said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” It was true at the time, and it’s even more accurate in modern times. As anyone who rides regularly will know, horse riding is excellent for both toning your body and relaxing your mind. But the benefits don’t stop there, as this post about the health benefits of horse riding seeks to demonstrate.
People have been using horses for transport for thousands of years, and in many parts of the world horses are still essential for transport and agriculture. However, once we no longer relied upon horsepower to work the land, or for transportation, riding for pleasure became a popular pastime.
The fact that so many of us continue to ride when we no longer have to do so for practical reasons, is a testimony to our enduring love of horses. According to figures published by the British Equestrian Trade Association, there were two point seven million riders in the UK, in 2015. Of these, one point three million were regular riders.
However, both these figures show a decline from the totals for 2011. This fall was partly due to economic factors, rather than a lessening of enthusiasm on the part of the British public. Other ex-riders cited loss of access to a horse or stables.
The Physical Benefits of Horse Riding
Horse riding is one of the best forms of exercise for improving muscle tone and balance. It helps to improve your coordination, confidence and overall posture. A low impact exercise, it’s often suitable for people who can’t manage more high impact sports, but it will still give you a thorough aerobic workout – riding can burn up to 300 calories an hour. If you have your own horse, don’t forget all the related activity as well – grooming, mucking out, picking up droppings and cleaning tack will all help to keep you fit.
The Mental Benefits of Horse Riding
In today’s high speed, high stress society, horse riding is an excellent form of relaxation, as a combination of fresh air, exercise and adrenaline provides the perfect escape from modern life. Building a relationship with your horse is intensely satisfying, as you both improve and start to stretch your boundaries. Horses are extremely sensitive and intuitive, and helping a young, scared or confused horse to overcome physical or behavioural problems is one of the most intensely positive experiences you can have as a rider.
The Emotional Benefits of Horse Riding
Apart from the obvious benefits of fresh air and exercise, the main pleasure of horse riding is the chance to build a partnership with an intelligent, sensitive animal. If you’re lucky enough to have your own horse, you’ll appreciate how a good partnership can evolve and develop as you work together to improve.
However, even if you only ride occasionally, riding is a series of immensely pleasurable moments – whether it’s the satisfaction from finally achieving a correct rising trot after weeks of trying, or the short but intense adrenaline buzz from a flat-out gallop. Even riding once or twice a year on a trekking holiday brings its own pleasures, and offers the chance to see new countryside in a way that’s in tune with the natural surroundings.
Horse Riding Improves Your Social Life
Unless you insist on riding alone, there are plenty of opportunities to meet people and make new friends in equestrian circles.
There are many chances for interaction at events, on holidays, or just out riding. As a fellow equestrian, you’ll find plenty to chat about with strangers. Horse riding has also been known to improve your love life too!