Ronald Reagan once said “There 's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” I’ve been riding horses for almost ten years and I couldn’t agree more. No matter what discipline someone is involved in- dressage, pleasure riding, hunter/jumper, endurance, speed events, equitation, working cow, whatever- there are many positive effects to be had. Besides being a lot of fun, horseback riding has a number of substantial benefits for the mind and body.
Competitive horseback riding is the best full-body workout I know: every muscle in your body is used to remain sitting up tall and balanced while the horse moves beneath you, to drive the horse forward with impulsion, and to keep from falling forwards if the horse pulls on the reins or takes a misstep. The most common criticism of horseback riding is “It can’t be that hard; the horse does all the work while you just sit there,” but this kind of comment only indicates that the commenter has never ridden seriously. Otherwise, they would know that serious horseback riding is anything but easy. I’ve come home from many a lesson sweaty and exhausted, feeling like I ran a marathon, and sore for a week afterwards. Even people who do other high-intensity sports often walk away from their first few lessons wobbly and a little in shock. I don’t mean to scare you if you’ve never ridden a horse before- barns that give lessons always have calm and easier to ride horses for new riders- it’s just that the more tired you are after a ride, the harder you worked and the better the workout. Of course, not all of the benefits of riding horses are physical.
The challenge of completing the perfect equitation pattern, having the best run, making the ho...
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... to climb onto a horse, you can ride. If you’re unable, you can join the many people who keep horses just for comfort and companionship. No matter what you do with your horses, it’s always extremely gratifying to hear them nicker in greeting when you walk down the barn aisle, or come running if you go to the gate of their pasture.
Riding and caring for horses is an excellent workout and teaches the satisfaction of setting and achieving goals, the value of hard work, and how to succeed with a teammate who doesn’t speak your language. The bonds people form with their horses are indescribable, no matter what discipline of riding they do. There’s also no age limit on having fun with horses. Whether you’re six years old or one hundred and six, you can benefit from riding horses and have fun doing it. Overall, horseback riding is a wonderful hobby that everyone should try.
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