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Category: Horse Riding

The Physical Benefits of Horse Riding in 2018

Horse riding may appear to be quite a relaxing sport to the inexperienced. In fact, high-level horse riding requires a good deal of strength and agility which is built up by work and time. In this article we look at the various ways in which horse riding promotes physical fitness.

If you are just starting out in horse riding you do not need to be at the peak of physical fitness. You will develop your muscles and strength over time in this sport. Gradually your level of fitness will increase, you will find your body aches less after long rides, and your strength will increase.

It is good practice to warm up before riding a horse. The strain on the arms and legs and be quite strong, and a good warm up will help prevent aches and pains later on. Stretching is a good way to warm up before a ride, as is a warm down when you have finished. Instead of standing and stretching any form of physical activity which causes you to stretch will assist you in warming up. This could be a quick jog, mucking out stables, or grooming your horse.

Horse riding can burn up to 500 calories an hour, and so is a great form of exercise to stay trim and help keep off unwanted pounds. It is considered a cardiovascular exercise which can require the same level of exertion as cycling and running.

Balance is a fundamental skill in developing a good horse riding technique. Without it the rider cannot maintain good posture and bad habits may develop and inaccurate messages are sent to the horse about which direction they should go in. Keeping yourself in alignment with the horse is essential for keeping both yourself and the horse in balance.

Horse riding requires the use of many muscle groups, the constant movement of the horse and rider stretching and contracting these muscles as they ride. The main muscle groups involved are those located in the back, thighs, calves, arms and shoulders. Gradually though horse riding these muscle groups with strengthen and tone, giving you stronger muscles and improved fitness.

Horse riding also causes less stress to areas of the body where other sports may result in stress and wear such as the knees and feet. It requires coordination and quick reflexes, which gradually improve in the rider over time.

horse ridingHorse riding is also considered by many to be good for emotional well being. Many riders report feelings of calm, purpose, and happiness when riding or looking after their horse. There is often a sense of community within a horse riding group, creating new friendships and a feeling of support and well being.

For many riders, horse riding and the associated work such as mucking out and grooming are their sole source of exercise, and can be regarded as a moderate to high intensity level form of exercise. The added psychological and social benefits make horse riding a great choice for those wishing to exercise and be part of a social and fun environment.

Riding Horses

That First Ride

IMG_9785I took my kids out for their first ride last week. I hadn’t been in the saddle for years, but it was great to see the little guys up on the horse and enjoying the experience in a safe environment. They rode English saddles common in the area we live and did a few circuits around the track with the stable hand taking them around by the reigns. The horses at the popular breakfast location and riding school are very tame and well kept, they seem quite docile around children and are not easily spooked in general which is what you want in a horse when considering putting your kids on it.

I’ve had too many friends who have either lost children or had them seriously injured while riding horses that were either too large or not ridden enough before putting kids on them. The school we visited will sign up at the youngest a seven-year-old, but I remember taking my first solo ride at about the same age and with no formal training. At twelve I remember going on my first trail trip and at fifteen I remember riding my first bronco. Boy, did he scare the crap out of me.

So you may ask yourself, “when is it time to let my kids up in the saddle?” The answer varies based on the maturity of your horse/pony and the maturity of your child. Make sure:

  • Proper equipment is in use
    • helmet
    • safety vest
    • boots
    • jeans
  • Your equipment is in good condition
    • tack – saddle, stirrups, rein, etc
  • You’re not creating bad habits:
    • ease your horse in and out of speed
    • make sure horse is frequently ridden
    • ride in groups – safety in numbers
    • obey your instructor unwaveringly
    • show aptitude for learning and wisdom in knowing when to emergency dismount

These are just a few guidelines if you’re looking for something all inclusive try visiting your local stables. Horse riding is a very dangerous sport and although there is a great thrill to mounting one of these amazing animals you are taking a great risk riding one and an even greater risk if you are not fully informed of the dangers ahead of time. I still think back to my first gallop with an English saddle after years of using a Western Saddle and think of how scared I was when it seemed the saddle was not properly fastened. Sliding off the horse and trying to ease a rather unruly horse back into an amble was terrifying. Thankfully I had the presence of mind and a good group of friends to help keep the horse in check and not have to emergency dismount Durango (or deranged-o as I like to think of him) There’s so much more that could be said but for now ride safe and keep your kids from harm on the trails of life and when at the stables.

If you’re looking for more tips then there are some great Youtube resources and you can always check out my compiled “how to” collection on our How To page. You can find those links in our main menu or linked here in this post.

 

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