There are many reasons people consider taking up horseback riding. Besides being a fun recreational activity, it is also an excellent form of exercise for the body and mind. Horses used to be the main form of transportation for decades before automotive vehicles took over. People rode horses as a necessity back then, but today we have a much more casual relationship with our four-legged friends. Unlike other leisurely activities, horseback riding offers the added perk of connecting with an animal. This list of benefits will surprise even seasoned riders and convince curious spectators to try it out.
It may look like just sitting, but horseback riding is a physically demanding activity requiring exceptional balance, core strength, muscle tone, and flexibility. It is an isometric exercise, which means it requires specific muscles to remain in certain positions. Proper posture is essential to riding and strong core muscles are developed as a result. The faster a horse moves the more challenging balance becomes. Riders must develop coordination skills to move with the horse and stay balanced, improving their reflexes as they use their entire body to guide and propel the horse forward.
There is unexpected confidence that comes with learning how to handle and interact with an animal as large as a horse. You learn more about yourself the more time you spend on a horse and it is also a relaxing and calming experience. It can be a form of meditation for people looking to take a break from life and focus their mind on something that requires their full attention. Both exercise and spending time with animals have been proven to raise the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin.
Horseback riding teaches responsibility to riders and even more so to horse caretakers. You become aware of the horse’s health and how to care for them. It also teaches patience, discipline, understanding, empathy, compassion, self-control, and dedication. After all, this is not a bike you can throw to the side of your garage; it is a living being with emotions that needs nurturing to function properly.
Riders must learn to make swift decisions from the back of an animal that weighs as much as one tonne. If a horse is set on going one way and the rider wants to go the other, they must determine how to get the animal to go the way they want in a safe and humane manner. Horses can at times be unpredictable, forcing the rider to make last-minute decisions.
Back to Nature
Fresh air and beautiful landscapes are sometimes all that is needed to lift your mood. We spend so much time indoors these days that it is no wonder people are enticed by this outdoor activity. A change of scenery is the perfect way to recharge after a busy day. Some people go for a walk to relax after a long day when the same results could be achieved through riding. When a horse walks with a rider on their back, the rider’s pelvis moves in the same motion as if they were walking.
Whether you have made horseback riding your life or simply want to make it one hobby out of many, it is an activity that will bring pleasure to your life in so many ways. The thrill of galloping across an open field with an animal that has put their trust in you offers a sense of freedom and fulfillment unmatched by any other activity.