What are the benefits of horseback riding?

Published Jan 10, 2017 | Updated Oct 28, 2019

Children and parents have a wealth of choice when it comes to recreation, sport and fitness activities. When thinking about horseback riding as an option, some mistakenly believe that it is a passive activity without any fitness benefits.

Improving Your Child's Fitness and Well-being

Horseback riding is a great activity for stimulating the body, mind and spirit. It is not only recreation; but, an opportunity to learn the subtleties of communication and develop trust with one of nature’s most noble creatures.

Physical Benefits

Horse riding offers riders both cardiovascular and muscle conditioning. You may think that the horse is doing all the work; however, an hour on horseback can burn similar calories to that of a 30-minute run or bicycle ride. Riding develops balance and coordination. As the horse moves, the rider is constantly using muscles to maintain balance which helps to strengthen the deep postural muscles of the trunk and pelvis. Good coordination is also needed to get the desired response from the horse. By repeating the patterned movements needed to control the horse, your child’s reflexes quicken and hand-eye coordination improves.

Psychological Benefits

Horse riding is recognized as having excellent therapeutic qualities. It is a great stress buster! In fact, the psychological benefits your child experiences can be of equal value as the physical ones. For many children, a horse is an important connection with nature whether they ride in the arena or down the trail.

Developing a relationship and sense of trust with a horse is highly rewarding. And, learning to control and care for such a large animal can have a profound affect on your child’s confidence. Many children find companionship and solace working with horses that carries them through the tumultuous teen years.

Sharing information on horse care and working together in the barn is a great way to socialize, improve communication skills and form lasting friendships with other riders.

Life Long Learning

Horse riding is an activity your child can enjoy all his or her life. Horse riding provides opportunities to discover and explore, giving someone a sense of pure, timeless freedom and exhilaration. And, you don’t need a horse or a lot of gear to get started. A riding school can give you a taste of the sport and provide all of the necessary equipment including the horse!


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