Riding Your Rescue Horse is Healthy for You & Horse
To the uninitiated, it can look like horseback riding is only exercise for the horse. Non-riders often comment that the horse is doing all the work and the rider is just a passenger, but experienced horseback riders know that riding your rescue horse is healthy.
The truth is that regular horseback riding can be just as good for you as it is for your equine companion. Despite what the naysayers think, horseback riding is exercise – and it is a lot more fun that a trip to the gym.
Many people are dropping their dumbbells and picking up a pair of reins instead. More and more people are discovering the healthful benefits of horseback riding – abandoning the gym and heading to the local riding stable instead. If you are bored with the same old workout routine, you might want to give horseback riding a try.
Learning to ride is good for the body and the soul, and any experienced rider can tell you that a brisk trot down the trails can be an intense cardiovascular workout.
Who Can Ride a Rescue Horse
One of the best things about horseback riding as exercise is that it is suitable for all ages and all body types. No matter what your size or current riding ability, there is a rescue horse suitable for you. If you choose to take lessons or work with a trainer before adopting a horse, they can help you find a a rescue horse through an organization like Equis Save Foundation horse rescue in Montana. The right horse will work with you to improve your fitness, learn the ropes and build your confidence.
Horseback riding is great exercise for people of all ages, but older men and women may benefit even more than their younger peers. Balance and coordination can begin to slip as we get older, and nothing is better for restoring lost balance than riding on a moving animal. In fact, regular horseback riding is one of the best ways to improve both balance and coordination.
Balance & Eye Coordination
Horseback riding requires a combination of good balance and excellent hand eye coordination. These are both skills you will learn as your riding improves, the benefits will go far beyond the barn. Improving your balance and coordination in the saddle can help you in all aspects of your life, from reducing the risk of falls to enhancing your safety both in and out of the home.
Core Muscle Strength
Riding a horse is also a great way to build your core muscles and strengthen every part of your body. As the horse moves, the rider must use their strongest muscles to remain in the proper position aboard the animal. These core muscles are used to maintain control of the horse and control its movements. From the leg cues used to increase and decrease speed to the rein cues needed to fine tune the horse’s movements, horseback riding requires a variety of different muscles.
Posting the trot is a particularly good way to build muscle strength, especially in your lower body. When you rise out of the saddle, you are using your entire lower leg, from the ankle joint through the calf and knee joint. Your riding instructor may use various strengthening exercises, including posting without stirrups, to build your muscles and make riding even more beneficial.
Horseback riding utilizes all the large muscle groups, including your biceps and triceps, but regular riding also requires muscles that few other activities make use of. Experienced riding instructors often hear their students remark that their muscles are sore after the first few lessons, or that they are using muscles they did not even know they had. These remarks are not mere anecdotes – they are further proof that horseback riding is real exercise.
The use of underutilized muscles and joints is one reason horseback riding is so great for improving flexibility. You might think that yoga would be the best way to enhance your flexibility, but you should not discount the value of horseback riding in this regard. You may be sore after those first few lessons, but over time your muscles will strengthen, your flexibility will improve and you will feel yourself moving with the horse more and more.
In fact, the muscle strengthening and flexibility improvements are comparable to the weight-bearing exercises you have been doing at the gym. However, galloping your horse through an open field or over a jump is a lot more fun than riding the exercise bike and getting nowhere.
Added Benefits of Riding Your Rescue Horse
Regular horseback riding can strengthen and tone muscles and joints that few other athletic endeavors can reach. From obvious areas like your legs and buttocks to less obvious areas like your ankles, knees and hips, the exercise value of horseback riding is widespread and powerful. Riding programs can be advantageous for all ages – from young children working to develop their balance to older men and women trying to regain their mobility and strengthen their core muscles.
Riding is great exercise for men and women who need to get in shape, but it can be just as useful for people who already have great muscle tone. In fact, athletes often find that adding horseback riding to their list of exercises helps them relax their muscles and makes their other workouts more effective.
Riding is also a great way to burn calories and have fun doing it. Studies have shown that riding a horse at a walk, trot and canter for 45 minutes can burn up to 200 calories1 – similar to what you would burn walking, hiking or jogging. When you consider that riding your horse or taking a lesson is much more fun, the benefits of spending time in the saddle become even more apparent.
Last but not least are the mental aspects of horseback riding. Experienced horsemen and women will be the first to tell you that barn time is often the best part of the day. Time in the saddle is a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work, and just spending time with a horse can lower your blood pressure and make you feel good.
When you become a regular rider, you will learn about teamwork and cooperation. You will learn that hard work pays off, and that dedication to the sport is its own reward. There is something magical about having a 1,000 pound animal trust you so completely. If you are bored with the same old workout routine, you might want to skip the gym this week and head to the local riding stable instead.