Updated: Feb 10
Going for a trail ride is not only a fun activity to do with family or friends. Horseback riding also has numerous benefits for physical and mental health.
Increasing Muscle Tone and Strength
From the outside, it may look like a rider is simply sitting there, going along for the ride. In fact, he or she is engaging muscles all over, from the core to the inner thighs and arms.
The rider builds up his or her strength through constantly adjusting to the animal’s movements.
Improving Core Strength and Posture
Maintaining the proper posture for riding engages the core, back, and chest muscles. The rider must contract certain muscles to stay balanced and keep his or her body in the perfect position. Proper posture reduces stress on the back.
The rider must coordinate his or her movements with the horse, developing spatial awareness and adjusting posture and position as needed. He or she uses the arms, legs, and seat simultaneously to direct the horse and navigate obstacles.
Getting Cardio Exercise
Horseback riding is a form of moderate-intensity exercise. It can increase the heart rate and burn hundreds of calories, depending on the ride’s type, intensity, and duration.
Promoting Healthy Circulation and Flexibility
The natural rhythm of the horse’s motion promotes healthy circulation and a sense of relaxation in the rider. It also stretches tight muscles and increases joints’ range of motion.
Getting a Mental Workout
The rider must stay alert and react quickly to any changes in the horse’s speed and direction. He or she also develops problem-solving skills through figuring out how to communicate with the horse and navigate obstacles on the trail.
Boosting Mood and Reducing Stress
Horseback riding is a break from stressors and worries - the rider focuses instead on the task at hand. Riding is known to lower stress levels and foster a sense of well-being. Spending time with animals also causes the body to release serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone.
Getting Out in the Fresh Air and Nature
Getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine also boosts mood. The rider experiences an escape from everyday life and may have the opportunity to explore a new place and take in beautiful views.
Socializing With Humans and Horses
Horseback riding is often a social activity. The rider forms connections with other riders - whether they be family members, friends, or peers - as well as staff members. The rider can also develop a bond with the horse and draw comfort from the feeling of companionship.
Learning a New Skill and Developing Confidence
Participants in horseback riding learn new skills and develop their memory, storing information about how to perform movements and communicate with the horse. They also gain confidence in their own abilities.
Any devoted rider will tell you that horseback riding is good for the body and soul. Whether it’s from building up your physical strength, relaxing and forming social connections, spending time in the great outdoors, or learning something new, riding invariably leaves you feeling good.
If you want to experience the benefits of horseback riding for yourself, why not try a Shelby Ranch trail ride? Rides are available 7 days a week by appointment, and no previous riding experience is needed.