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4 health benefits of horseback riding

4 health benefits of horseback riding

Horse riding isn't just a fun activity, it's a sport that offers a number of physical and mental health benefits. Each time you ride your horse, you are boosting your fitness levels. Here are just a few reasons to find more time in your schedule to ride:

Tones muscles
Your horse may be doing the running, but that doesn't mean you're not getting just as good of a workout. In fact, riding your horse for an hour burns the same amount of calories as a 30-minute jog or bike ride would.

This equine activity forces you to use muscles that you may not even be aware that you had. You have to constantly balance yourself, which means that your legs, core and arms are always engaged. Your core helps you stay put, and your legs squeeze against your horse so you remain in the saddle throughout the ride, and your arms work to help you hang on. The constant flexing and contracting of muscles will help your legs, arms and core be toned in no time.

Reduces stress
Many people feel that riding horses relaxes them and gives them peace of mind. It may be slightly more stressful when you're first learning how to ride your horse, but over time, this activity can become a release, taking your mind off of everything else in your life and focusing entirely on the movements of your horse. Simply being outdoors can be therapeutic and may help boost your mood.

Improves flexibility
Flexibility only improves with practice. When you're riding a horse, you won't even have to think about working on your flexibility, because it will become better over time. After riding in the same position, your hips, hamstrings and glutes will gain flexibility. Being flexible is extremely important in horse riding because it can prevent potential injury.

Boosts coordination
Riding a horse may look simple, but once you get in the saddle and start to ride, you may realize that the activity requires a lot more muscle strength and coordination than you thought. You have to figure out how to move your arms, hips and legs to adjust to your horse's speed. This coordination will carry over in many other sports that you try.

Keep in mind improved coordination happens over time, so practice a few hours per day until you feel comfortable.