I'm considering taking horseback riding lessons. My goal is to do an activity that gets me outdoors weekly and also is a good work out. I have heard some say that horseback riding is not a sport. Does that mean that riding is not a good workout? Do you think horseback riding would be a good exercise for me?
Dear Considering Riding,
I believe that anyone who says horseback riding is not a sport has never given it a try. There is more to it than meets the eye. I think most would agree with me when I say it is harder than it looks.
I'm not talking about horseback riding where you went a horse and ride down a trail—where you just sit there and the horse follows the tail in front of it and you leisurely watch the scenery.
I'm talking about learning how to really ride. There are many components involved that make it great exercise.
First, when you are riding, you are constantly having to balance yourself on a moving animal. That takes balance and coordination.
Learning the correct position to sit in to ride most effectively requires gaining muscle memory. Gaining muscle memory means that you are gaining strength over time and your muscles are learning to hold your body in the correct position.
Once you move on to trotting and learn to post, or even posting at the walk (lifting yourself up and down off the saddle) requires strength, as well as balance and coordination.
When you get to trotting or cantering, though you are sitting on a moving animal, it also is a cardio workout to ride and stay in balance with the moving horse. It will definitely get your heart rate and breathing up.
Riders are strong. They have great muscle control and balance. In my opinion, riding is a great workout. And just like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get.
There is nothing more exhilarating than riding a horse on a beautiful day. Whether it be a brisk cold winter day or a warm sunny summer day, I can't think of a better way to exercise.
I hope you'll give it a try!