Do you love horses and also want to improve your mental and physical health? Then horse riding in San Diego may be just the hobby for you! Horse riding is more than just sitting on top of a large animal and making it go forward. In order to properly ride a horse, you need both strong muscles and a strong mind in order to communicate and bond with a living creature.
Read on to learn all about the numerous health benefits of horse riding!
1. Burn Calories
If you’re mainly focused on losing weight, then you’ll be happy to learn that horse riding helps you burn some serious calories. Horse riding is considered a moderate form of exercise. Although the horse you’re riding is doing most of the work, you also have to use your leg and core muscles in order to stay balanced.
An hour’s riding at a walking pace burns about 120 calories. At a trotting pace, you’ll burn approximately 360 calories. At most, you’ll burn 480 calories after an hour of galloping. This is about the same as a 30-minute jog.
2. Improve Flexibility
There’s more to horse riding than just sitting stationary on a horse. For instance, in order to mount a horse properly and sit upright in a saddle, you need a good amount of flexibility in your hips and legs. As you’re posting, or rising out of the saddle in time with the horse’s forelegs for a smoother ride, you’ll need to attain more flexibility in order to establish mobility and control.
3. Core and Thigh Strength
Horse riding isn’t a relaxing activity if you’re trotting or galloping. This is because you need to stay balanced on the horse or you can easily be bumped off the saddle. Posting, or rising up and down in the saddle as the horse moves, requires strong thighs and a strong core. Horse riding can also be considered a form of isometric training, as your joint angle and muscle length won’t be changing much if your horse keeps moving at the same pace.
Horse riding also requires a great deal of coordination. Not only are you balancing on your horse with strong thighs and a strong core, but you also need to be able to apply the right pressure with the reins. Squeezing your heels or legs against a horse’s thighs will give it small cues to speed up, and it’s also important to look in the direction of where you want to go along with holding the right tension in the reigns.
Your horse will be listening to and responding to all the subtle motions and pressures of your body, and they all need to be perfectly coordinated so you can accurately communicate to the horse where you want to go and how fast.
In order to sit properly on a horse, you also need the right posture. Many beginners will clench too hard with their legs, slump, or lean forward out of fear of falling. However, incorrect postures will make you lose your center of gravity and make you more prone to falling.
Instead, sitting straight up and relaxed will help you keep a firm center of gravity in the saddle. With your shoulders back and relaxed, chest out, and arms loosely at your sides, you’ll be training your body to sit properly both on and off a horse.
Without proper posture in our daily lives, people are prone to:
- Poor digestion – Staying slouched compresses your digestive organs
- Cardiovascular disease – Blood vessel restriction
- Chronic back pain – Disc degeneration
- Subluxations – Spine becomes misaligned
- Nerve constriction – Causes pain in different parts of the body
6. Mental Wellbeing
Not only does horse riding help with your physical health, but you can also experience profound mental wellbeing by regular exercise through horse riding. Exercise, in general, helps everyday stress, anxiety, and even depression because of the endorphins produced in our brains. Exercise can also:
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve alertness and concentration
- Enhance cognitive function
- Improve the ability to sleep
Horse riding in particular also has profound therapeutic effects because of the bond between horse and human. Imagine the bond that you have with pets, such as cats and dogs. Horses are just as intelligent as these household pets and tend to be particularly in tune with our emotions.
7. Positive Sensory Stimulation
Horse riding in San Diego is often recommended for people on the autism spectrum or with mental disorders because of its ability to positively stimulate the senses. As you ride a horse, your sight, sense of smell, touch, and hearing are all stimulated and necessary in order to ride a horse effectively.
You need to focus on the present moment in order to attend to all of these senses. This helps build emotional strength as you set aside your chronic stress and worries of the day and focus on an activity that you can control. Children and adults alike can then use this mindfulness to improve their every day lives.
Horse Riding in San Diego: Improving Your Mind and Body
Horse riding is more than just sitting on top of a horse and riding from point A to point B. In order to be an accomplished rider, you need to be able to strengthen both your mind and B. From strengthening your core and leg muscles from encouraging you to pay more attention to your senses, coordination, and the present moment, horse riding gives you a holistic way of improving yourself while also bonding with a gentle living creature.
Ready to begin horse riding in San Diego? Contact us about the best horseback riding lessons today!