The benefits of horse riding | Cheshire Riding School | Horse riding lessons in cheshire

The benefits of horse riding

In this day and age we’re told we need to eat healthier, exercise more and make sure we spend enough time outside. So what are the benefits of riding? In this post, we’ll delve into the benefits of horse riding, shedding light on its potential to help your well-being.

The most obvious benefit is physical exercise. Horse riding is a blend of cardiovascular exertion and cognitive stimulation, enhancing reflexes whilst toning the body, in particular core muscles and legs.

A study by Brighton University found that horse riding meets the intensity level of exercise recommended by government guidelines. The study shows that “Horse riding and activities associated with horse riding such as mucking out, expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate intensity exercise.” whilst other sources suggest riding for a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times per week exceeds the government’s recommended minimum level of physical activity.

For those office workers amongst us, Horse riding gets you outdoors, which can benefit vitamin D levels, whilst the constant movement of the horse can engage your core, improving posture and reducing back pain caused by sitting still during 9am to 5pm desk shifts. For people with long standing illnesses or unable to take part in other sports, horse riding can be an alternative form of exercise, which could be otherwise hard to find.

Horse riding is one of the only sports which includes a positive connection with animals. It can help relieve stress and lift our mood whilst also being a natural stimulator for Serotonin and providing a release of endorphins.

The same study also found that “Horse riders are strongly motivated to take part in riding by the sense of well-being they gain from interacting with horses. This important positive psychological interaction with an animal occurs in very few sports.” Other sources refer to this as “Equine therapy”. Whilst more research is being conducted into this, it is clear that being around horses and horse riding can offer mental health benefits. “A number of positive feelings were strongly associated with horse riding by respondents. More than 90 percent of respondents reported that horse riding made them feel ‘quite a lot’ or ‘extremely’ cheerful and the equivalent figure is in excess of 80 percent for feeling relaxed, happy and active.”

Horses are very perceptive animals - being herd animals - they are highly attuned to their surroundings and can also interpret human physical and emotional signals. We often see our visitors develop close and rewarding relationships with their four legged friends. Horse riders experience these psychological benefits even if they do not participate regularly enough to obtain physical health benefits.

Horses riding is a social activity. No matter if you choose one-to-one tuition or group lessons, you are certain to encounter like minded individuals, meet new people and form friendships with both humans and animals. People struggling with social anxiety or low mood have remarked on the benefits they have discovered sharing their common passion with others.

In conclusion, horse riding can be more than just great exercise. It can help boost your mental wellbeing, encourage release of feel-good chemicals, enable new connections with horses, socialise with people with a shared passion, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Why not give it a go?

If you’re a rider who is struggling with mental health, please check out the following resources.

Rider’s Minds

Mind UK

NHS Mental Health