Horseback riding or equestrianism refers to both the skill and practice of riding horses for practical purposes such as traveling or working, as well as for recreational, artistic, cultural, and competitive activities. Horses have been used since time ancient times, and prehistoric cave paintings tracing back to 3500 BC show that humans have used horses for travelling, hunting, and agriculture. Later on, in history, horses were used in battles, entertainment, and in competitions, namely horse racing with records indicating it being practiced in ancient Greece and Egypt. Equestrianism was introduced in the 1900 Summer Olympics and has been a part of it ever since.
Even today, with all the mechanical and technological advancements, horses are still used as a means for transport and in work. But even if you’re an urban dweller or don’t plan on working on a farm, learning and practicing horseback riding can improve your physical and mental health. So let’s take a look at why you should start equestrianism:
Physical Conditioning and Strengthening
Horseback riding is an enjoyable yet physically taxing activity. Practicing equestrianism helps you tone and develop core muscles by forcing you to maintain proper riding posture while on the horse.
Additionally, it can help tone your back, chest, and arm muscles to keep yourself balanced on the horse. As horseback riding can be quite exhilarating, you wouldn’t even notice the almost total-body workout from an hour of horseback riding until you’ve stopped to take a break. Even when you’re off the saddle, grooming, maintaining, and interacting with your horse can take a lot of effort and can tone and improve muscle strength. After a few sessions of horseback riding, you’d be able to get on your horse without much effort; you can even say that you’ll be “as healthy as a horse”.
Horseback riding, even in non-competitive activities, can help hone your coordination. This doesn’t only mean your hand-eye coordination or overall agility, but coordinating your posture and movements together with the horse’s to stay on your saddle and properly control you’re the horse.
Research has shown that learning a new skill can help improve one’s neuroplasticity and even reduce the risk of memory-related illnesses later on, such as dementia. Learning horseback riding can help sharpen your mind as it requires a lot of quick thinking and decision-making to maneuver and control your horse correctly.
De-stress and Socialize
Horseback riding takes up a lot of focus and efforts. As such, it’s an effective way for one to take a break from the stresses of work and day-to-day life. Additionally, taking up horseback riding can help you meet new people and increase your social circle. You’ll get to talk to and build relationships with your horse, your instructor, other riders, and people in the ranch or barn.
Horseback riding can indeed provide a lot of benefits to those who practice it. So if you’ve been thoroughly convinced to try it out, you better start looking for ranches that offer training and horseback riding activities. It would also be a good idea to read up on and start acquainting yourself with horseback riding basics and equipment (or “horse tacks”) such as the saddles and headstalls which you’ll be working with soon.