Benefits of Horseback Riding
Human beings have been riding horses for thousands of years. Horse riding was once integral to our transportation needs, but it has since become more of a sport. Aside from being something fun to do, there are other social, mental, health, and psychological benefits of horse training in Toronto and horse riding.
Mental benefits of horse riding
Horseback riding and interaction with horses, in general, have therapeutic benefits. This has led to the increased uptake of Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT) treatment. Those with ADD, autism, anxiety, dementia and other mental health conditions stand to benefit from horse riding. The mental benefits of horse riding include:
Stress reduction & mood improvement
Horseback riding is done outdoors, meaning it allows you to be one with nature away from life’s stressors. Exercising and spending time with animals leads to the release of serotonin, a hormone known for stress reduction and mood improvement.
Your muscles build when you exercise. The same applies to the brain. Horseback riding is a form of mental exercise since it involves learning a new skill set and requires that you think fast on your feet while in the saddle. It also allows you to develop problem-solving skills through your communication with the horse. It improves speech, gross and fine motor skills, assertiveness, and memory – you can use these mental developments in other areas of your life.
Why is horse riding relaxing? Horseback riding improves circulation and muscle and joint movement. This leads to relaxation. Being in the great outdoors, enjoying the fresh air, and a change of scenery also have a relaxing effect.
Physical benefits of horse riding
Is horse riding a good form of exercise? The simple answer is yes. Horseback riding is a form of exercise since it involves regular movement. You will burn calories in the process. According to a 2011 study commissioned by the British Horse Society (BHS), horseback riding is a moderate-intensity exercise, with the best results coming when done at least half an hour or more, three times every week. Here are a few physical benefits of horses to humans.
Improved core strength
Horseback riding is an isometric exercise which involves the use of muscles to stabilize oneself on the horse. A strong core improves sports performance, helps prevent injuries, and reduces the risk of lower back pain. Stabilizing muscles that are strengthened by horseback riding include the hips, lower back, and abdominal muscles.
Improved balance and coordination
When you ride a horse, you practice balancing on the horse. Directing the horse in different directions also enables you to practice coordination. Improved balance and coordination are particularly important for advanced riders who must navigate through obstacles like fences and barrels.
Muscle toning and strengthening
Other than the core muscles, horse riding also tones and strengthens your leg, arm, and chest muscles, among others. Tacking, grooming, feeding, and other related horse care activities also help improve your upper body strength.
Improved circulation and flexibility
Horseback riding, like other forms of exercise, improves circulation. Riding stretches your muscles, which, in turn, improves your range of motion and flexibility.
Psychological benefits of horse riding
Horseback riding improves self-esteem and confidence. When you meet the different goals set by the riding instructor or yourself, you start having “I can do this” feelings. As you become a better rider, your confidence levels soar, and you gain an increase in self-image and self-esteem. If you can manage a 1,000-pound animal, what can’t you manage?
According to the 2011 study commissioned by the British Horse Society, horseback riding has the effect of stimulating positive psychological feelings. Over 80% of the riders questioned claimed that riding a horse made them feel “extremely” or “quite a lot” relaxed, cheerful, active, or happy.
Social benefits of horse riding
When you ride with others, including friends, relatives, and even strangers, you improve your socialization and interpersonal skills. You will also socialize with the horses, the riding instructors, employees at the barn, and competitors. The horse industry is a social community of like-minded individuals who are there for their horses and each other.
Health benefits of horse riding
Horseback riding is an exercise by itself, and it engages all parts of the body. It gives you all the benefits you get from exercising. So, how does horse riding affect your body?
Improved cardiovascular health
Being a moderate exercise, trotting exerts more energy than badminton and similar sports. Many people think horseback riding is an easy sport, but you will begin sweating even before you tack up. Horseback riding is a cardio exercise that increases your heart rate and is, therefore, good for cardiovascular health.
Lowering blood pressure
Exercising helps lower your blood pressure by contributing to more flexible blood vessels and arteries. This and the fact that exercising reduces your weight and helps you burn hundreds of calories have the net effect of reducing the risk of heart disease.
Other benefits of horseback riding
Horseback riding requires that you do not slouch, sit back too far, overextend, or sit too far forward as your seat bones would not maintain enough contact with the back of the horse, which is required for effective communication. You will find yourself sitting up straight when riding the horse – the improved posture will become a habit over time.
Horses, just like human beings, are social creatures. This and the fact that they have been domesticated for thousands of years means you are able to interact and communicate with them, which has been shown to have a positive effect. You will see children who do not talk to people opening up and communicating when they are around horses. Horses act as companions and confidantes.
There are many sports that involve horseback riding, including hunter/jumpers, reining, dressage, driving, polo, gaited competitions, eventing, vaulting, trail classes, reined cow, barrel racing, and many more. These sports are fun, and they bring out the competitor in you. Many have made a career out of horseback riding.
Horses were initially domesticated for transportation. Even today, there are still situations that call for using horses as a means of transport, especially for those who live on ranches and other open spaces.
At Amplify Stables, we are a specialized horse training facility based in Toronto, ON. We do breeding, training, breaking, and boarding, but we also welcome visitors who want to experience the health, psychological, social, mental and other benefits of horseback riding.
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