Looking at getting into riding? Here’s a quick introduction to horse riding and some of its varied health and fitness benefits.

Horse riding is a great sport to get involved with and is an activity for all ages and abilities.

More and more people are taking to the sport and enjoying its health benefits, some of which are outlined below.

Getting started

The more keen and experienced riders may have their own pony or horse and all the necessary riding gear, but you don’t really need all that to get started. Riding schools can provide training for the absolute novice through to the more confident and experienced rider. A riding school can give you a taster of the sport whilst providing all necessary equipment you will need, not forgetting the horse!

Once you have chosen a riding school it is most important that you pay it a visit to check it out. If you are unable to visit, you may need to call beforehand to let the instructor know a few details about your physique and previous experience. That way, the horse that will be prepared for your lesson will best suited to your needs.

Health benefits of horse riding

Horse riding is a great exercise and offers a number of health and fitness benefits, including:

  • Develops leg muscles
  • Improves balance and posture
  • Improves mental concentration
  • Develops the arm muscles and the agility of the hands
  • Refreshes and clears the mind of daily distractions

Physical benefits of horse riding

Horse riding is a great form of exercise which has both cardiovascular and muscle conditioning benefits. Although it may seem at first sight as though the rider is not engaging in any major physical exercise, an hour’s activity can burn similar calories to that of a 30-minute jog or cycle ride. Therefore, all the health benefits associated with engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise are gained.

After your first ride you may feel muscles that you never knew you had. This is due to the movement of the horse and its effect on the rider during the ride. As the rider reacts to the horse’s movements to avoid becoming off balance, the deep postural muscles of the trunk and pelvis and the adductor muscles of the thighs are continuously being conditioned.

Psychological benefits of horse riding

Horse riding is recognised as having excellent therapeutic qualities. The psychological benefits can be of equal importance to riders as the physical benefits.

Simply being out and about and enjoying the great outdoors will boost your general well being and act as a great stress buster. There is a real sense of exhalation and freedom when you ride. Furthermore, developing a relationship and sense of trust between yourself and your horse is highly rewarding. Learning to control and care for an animal much larger than yourself can have a profound affect on your confidence.