Did you know that outside of riding being really fun and enjoyable, there are so many more benefits to riding and being around horses? I narrowed down the benefits to 10 ways that riding horses is beneficial to your health, personal development, and daily life.
Horses require a lot of upkeep, maintenance, and work to keep them happy, healthy, and fit. Being around and riding horses helps to teach you responsibility through the work you need to do to care for these animals. Even before you get in the saddle, a lot of work is required of you to prepare for your ride. Knowing that it takes consistent hard work to take care of a horse and make sure they are happy and healthy and acknowledging this for the horse’s greater good is already a step towards making a more responsible you!
Patience is crucial with horses. These animals will feed off of your energy at all times and if they sense that you are upset, frustrated, or annoyed with them, the horse may start to act up making you more irritated. Horses teach you patience in the sense that sometimes you need to keep working on things until they go right. Just like the saying practice makes perfect, sometimes a horse needs to practice a specific motion many times until they eventually get it right.
An example of how a horse might test your patience is when picking up leads in the canter. If you keep asking for the right lead but the horse keeps picking up the left lead it can get really frustrating. Handling situations like this all the time can help you to be a more patient person not only with horses, but with people as well. Having to constantly be patient with your horse will eventually play into your personal life and make you a more patient person with other people and situations in the long run.
3. Strength & Muscle Growth
For all my horse people out there, we have all been told that the horse does all the work when we ride and that we just have to sit there. For all the people that say this, that is NOT true!
Riding horses constantly requires a lot of muscle use and exercise! The two main parts of your body that will get worked the hardest are your core and your inner thighs. This is because these are the two areas that help you balance and hold onto the horse when you are riding. With consistent riding comes built strength, stamina, and muscle growth. Riding is, in fact, a fun way to exercise and get stronger!
For those of you who have been on a horse before, you might be able to remember your first time ever riding. It is a little difficult to balance, especially at gaits faster than walk, but with consistent riding, you can learn the gaits of the horse and learn to move with them and balance on the horse at the same time.
With a bettering sense of balance caused from riding consistently, you might notice that you are less clumsy, fall off less, your equitation and communication with your horse is improving, and your are able to do more woth riding than you ever thought possible.
With my personal experience with riding, I went from only being able to trot in an English saddle, to being able to gallop bareback. Time and experience will improve your balance and riding abilities so much more than you ever would expect!
5. Teamwork & Trust
Horseback riding consists of the use of teamwork and trust between the horse and rider. If there is no teamwork, then the horse and rider will become frustrated with each other, and the whole experience when riding can turn into a disorganized and uncoordinated mess. With working together as a team, the horse will respond better and you, the rider, will be able to advance further into your riding career.
The horse also must learn to trust you. Taking the time to learn to trust each other is also a benefit that you might not have known. Horses, especially wild ones, might have difficulty when it comes to trusting people they don’t really know. Horses can teach you to take the time to trust one another as well as work as a team to reach the end goal.
Being able to communicate with an animal that doesn’t speak your language while working together as a team is an incredible thing that can better your ability to work with people when teamwork is necessary to get a job done.
Horseback riding is a sport that consists of so many different things at once. At one time you are guiding the horse with your legs and your hands while staying balanced and centered and looking up to see where you need to go. Sometimes all of this is paired with other intense things like barrels to race around, cows ro rope, or fences to jump. Practicing all these different things all at once all the time really does help you to become more coordinated as, with consistent riding, you have made yourself more self aware and coordinated than you were before.
7. Improved Focus
It has been proven that children who ride horses in their free time focus easier and do better in school than children that participate in other sports or events. People who ride horses are trained to do so much at one time, become better coordinated, become more responsible, and become more patient. Because of all these improved skills, equestrians are able to buckle down and focus much easier than someone who doesn’t actively practice the skills necessary to focus better.
8. Stress Relief/Therapy
There is a reason that horses are used in therapeutic riding programs all across the world. There is something calming and relieving about climbing on a horse’s back and forgetting all your cares and worries for a little while. Many equestrians can agree that climbing on your favorite horse and just riding can help to make you feel so much better.
Horses are able to sense your moods and emotions and respond to them. This is another way that these animals can be therapeutic. Horses will always listen and pay attention to you which is why they help people who have social anxiety, depression, or a variety of phobias.
9. Improved Posture
Slouching is a problem that I’m sure many of us are guilty of. Riding horses actually helps to improve your posture as it forces you to sit upright without any back support from a backrest or something to lean against. Also, most riding disciplines require you to sit upright with your back straight as part of their proper equitation. If you consistently ride horses, you will soon get used to sitting with good posture and make it a habit to sit this way naturally.
10. Improved Reflexes
Horses are unpredictable animals that can bolt, buck, rear up, spook, or stop at any given moment. With this in mind, dealing with a horse that reacts in any or all of these ways can help you to improve your reflexes and react to certain events and happenings faster. An example would be if a horse starts to bolt and run out of nowhere, someone who rides frequently would react to this situation and get the horse back under control faster than a less experienced horse person would.