How Horse Riding Affects the Body
Horse riding, as sport, inevitably affects the rider’s body - both physically and mentally. The sport has a lot of positive benefits on riders and some of these benefits we may not even be aware of. Sometimes it is valuable to understand why the sport we love has such an impact upon our health and well-being.
If a rider is riding in the correct riding position, all their core muscles will be engaged and working. This correct position enables a rider’s trunk muscles to become stabilised, allowing for balanced movement in the limbs that has little effect on the overall rider position. The more experienced rider will develop increased coordination and stability as a result of the repetitive demands of the sport. This learnt skill is important as a rider needs to be able to support themselves in the saddle and be able to distribute their weight across the horse’s back correctly to achieve the best results. This correct positioning encourages the rider to engage their muscles, even the ones they did not know they used. The more experienced rider can adjust their positioning to suit the movements of different horses, engaging the muscles that are in regular use to move in accordance with the horse.
The physical effects of being in the saddle are complemented by that of the mind. Whilst horses persist to place never-ending stresses upon us, horse riding itself a concentrated effort. Mental distractions or stresses such as test results, work or even just what to cook for dinner will never help you to achieve that perfect half-pass! Regular riding helps to focus the mind, encouraging the rider to instead attempt to ‘read’ their horse’s behaviour to ensure they remain in control and on track with their training. This meditative effect provides a certain peace of mind, creating the time you need to re-charge. As with many forms of exercise, horse riding causes the ‘feel-good’ serotonin to be released, benefiting the body as a whole.
Whilst horse riding itself is incredibly important to our health, the associated tasks are equally as important. Who knew that pushing a wheelbarrow could be so good for you, or how many steps you accumulate walking around the field?! Exercise aside, the serene peace found simply by being with a horse is a comfort that many depend upon, and many others may benefit from.