Horseback riding is both enjoyable and a good form of exercise.

Most equestrians ride because they enjoy the sport, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. Horseback riding requires a good amount of muscle, balance, stamina, and flexibility. It’s similar to many other sports. Researchers have proven time and time again that it’s a great form of exercise. Don’t assume you just sit there because there’s definitely more to it.

While riding in general is good exercise, there are certain disciplines that’ll really push your body. Some of these include eventing, barrel racing, endurance, among many others. Don’t underestimate disciplines like trail riding, which requires balance and the use of your core muscles. Additionally, barn life in general is a good workout! From moving hay bales to dumping and refilling water buckets, you can expect to be tired after your barn chores.

Burning Calories

A few year back, Dr. Dennis Sigler, a professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University in College Station, graduate student Colleen O’Reilly, and a few other researchers teamed up to study the amount of energy expended while riding. Their findings suggested that riding at the walk, trot, and canter burned up to 200 calories in 45 minutes. 

Here’s some more numbers- cantering for 10 minutes can burn upwards of 93 calories, trotting 74 calories in 10 minutes, and 57 calories at the walk. This is based on a 150 pound woman. Those numbers can quickly go up when your horse is being stubborn or requires more active riding.

You might not burn the same amount of calories horseback riding that you would climbing the stair stepper, but most would agree riding is more enjoyable! You have to factor in your mental health, as well.

Strengthening Muscles

While riding your horse, you’re doing more than just burning calories! This sport will strengthen your muscles. Some like your core muscles, which are found in the stomach and lower back, will really get put to the test. In return, they will help you to stay balanced and sit tall in the saddle. These core muscles contract and relax as you keep your position.

Other muscles that enjoy a workout are the ones in your legs! Your inner thighs and glutes will really feel the burn as your horse moves out. From stabilizing yourself in the stirrups to asking your horse for more speed, your legs are essential in riding.

Your arms and shoulders may even experience a workout. It can be difficult to maintain a proper riding position and keep your shoulders back. You’ll also need your arms to communicate with your horse. Outside of the saddle, your arms will definitely be put to use with stall cleaning, lifting hay bales, and sweeping.

Improves Your Balance

In order to stay centered in the saddle, you need to be balanced. Horses also appreciate a centered rider. They usually are able to communicate better and give clearer signals. Riders that flop around in the saddle can be hard on their horse’s back and distracting. Most beginners start off somewhat unbalanced, but as you continue to ride it’ll come more and more naturally.

You may also experience better coordination, reduced stress, and improved problem solving. While your body will reap rewards, your mental health will also enjoy benefits. Horseback riding is a wonderful form of exercise for beginners and experienced equestrians alike. If you haven’t tried it yet, then what are you waiting for?

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Emily Fought

Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn't writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily's background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northeastern Ohio with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm. Emily not only writes for but as well!

July 20, 2022