There are many benefits of horseback riding for your health. Those who ride competitively know that horseback riding is a physically challenging and rewarding activity. Additionally, interaction with horses is believed to have therapeutic effects. This has resulted in the rise of an experiential therapy called horse therapy or equine-assisted therapy, which involves interactions between patients and horses to treat conditions such as substance abuse, mental illness, and autism.
Benefits of Horseback Riding
1. Develops core strength.
One of a horseback riders’ strongest muscles is her core. Maintaining proper riding posture requires exercise of the core muscles in addition to the back and chest muscles. Also, it takes an engaged core to stay balanced on the horse.
2. Improves coordination.
Coordination is an important skill for horseback riding. Not only does the rider need to coordinate her movements with the horse’s, she also needs to direct the horse in the right direction and over or around obstacles such as barrels and fences.
3. Encourages trust.
In order to be a successful horseback rider, the rider must develop a trusting relationship with her horse. Horses, like any animal, can be unpredictable. If a rider has ever been thrown or injured while riding, it takes a great deal of effort to rebuild that trust. In a horseback riding lesson, you might work on trust building exercises with your horse. Learning to build trust isn’t just important between horses and riders, but in all human relationships.
4. Exercises the mind.
Unlike idle activities such as watching TV, horseback riding exercises you physically and mentally. Mental exercise is an important benefit of horseback riding. As you learn to communicate with your horse, execute movements, and overcome obstacles, your brain will store information on how you completed these tasks. As you continue to learn new things, your brain will store the information so you can perform the task again, and perhaps even better the next time.
5. Develops problem solving skills.
As you become more advanced in your horseback riding ability, you might take on the challenge of a jumping course, trail ride, or horse show. You’ll have to master problem solving skills as you direct your horse. If your horse is unwilling to submit to your directions, you’ll have to think quickly about how to remain safe and in control of your horse.