The science is in! Riding and caring for horses helps develop both your mind and your body. Horsemen already know that both are good for the soul, but worldwide research now proves scientifically that time spent in the saddle, as well as time spent caring for your equine companion after each ride, delivers exceptional fitness benefits. If your New Year’s resolutions call for more exercise, maybe you should consider more time behind the reins (or brush).
Learning to ride horses can improve the mental abilities of children, according to the experts at Medical News Today. The healthcare specialists cite a Japanese study that showed improved memory, problem-solving skills and enhanced learning after time spent horseback riding. Children showed markedly less stress as they encountered mathematical challenges throughout the test, indicating that they were improving their cognitive abilities at a rate much quicker than those who had not partaken in a ride.
Galloping, or even hanging on as you exercise your horse with jumps and a light canter, can get your heart beating and develop excellent cardiovascular benefits. Research shows that cardiovascular health increases longevity, helping both you and your equine friend live longer and spend more time together. It doesn’t just enrich your soul — riding is downright good for the heart. It promotes positive energy, one of the four basic core needs of humans and animals alike, and gets you out of the office to truly enjoy nature.
Researchers preparing the Harvard Heart Letter discovered another benefit of horseback riding. The exercise equestrians get on a ride can amount to as much as 356 calories an hour for a 185-pound rider at an average trot. This doesn’t take into account calories lost due by dressage, jumping, canter or gallop. What’s more, active grooming can burn as many as 532 calories in the same hour. This means weight loss over time, helping you stay fit and healthy.
Riding and caring for horses delivers a reduction in cortisol levels, just one more way your horse can boost your well-being. Cortisol is widely considered a “stress hormone.” It can have many negative effects on the body, including weight gain. Time spent off the saddle, filled with gentle brushing and a bit of one-on-one downtime, is all you need for a quick de-stress and lowered cortisol levels.
You can spend this time trying to decide if all your training is making your horse smarter or the other way around as you bond with your furry friend.