With the new year just coming in, bucket lists are a trend once more. Some are still accomplishing the things they haven’t finished in 2019, while others are now entirely ready for new challenges with a game face on. If you haven’t completed your bucket list yet, consider adding horseback riding, in case you haven’t given it a try yet.
Horseback riding is more than just straddling on a horse’s back and letting it take you anywhere. It takes bodily coordination, focus, and discipline since it’s a sport, after all. Some people who have tried horseback riding fell in love with it and even kept horses as pets! Caring for horses may not be the same as caring for dogs or cats, with all the gear they need such as durable headstalls and saddles, but it is fulfilling and rewarding because equestrians also form a bond with their horses.
That said, here are reasons to try (and love) horseback riding:
1. Physical Health Benefits
Your leg, abdominal, back, and shoulder muscles, along with many others, are all being used in horseback riding. After riding for the first time, you would find that your inner thigh muscles, called gracilis muscles, will feel sore because it got exercised and stretched. As you ride more, your muscles will become more flexible, easing your next rides more.
Your internal organs also benefit from horseback riding. It improves the liver and digestion functions that even wheelchair-bound people can consider it as a therapy option. It also builds up your strength as you heave yourself up the horse’s back and carry its gears. Saddles and other equipment, hays, and cleaning the horse’s stables can tone your muscles.
2. Weight Loss
Apart from toning your muscles, horseback riding will also make you trim down excess body fats. According to Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of Body-For-Life For Women, five calories are burned per minute for a 150-pound woman during horseback riding. With more speed and distance, more calories will be burned.
3. Mental Exercise
Horseback riding, as mentioned, takes focus. Once you’re geared up and ready, your mind wouldn’t have room for distractions anymore because riding will demand all your attention, hence, winning your complete focus. It gives you a chance to set aside your burdens and be in the moment.
Research even shows that lifelong learning of horseback riding can aid in preventing memory loss. Our brain also needs exercise to keep on functioning optimally, just like our muscles. Horseback riding provides opportunities for mental exercises that’ll keep our minds sharp.
4. Emotional Benefits
If you own a dog or a cat, you would find that you can form a deep bond with them. The same can be said with horses. People who own horses said that they can find solace while working with the animal. Frustrations can also occur — similar to when a dog doesn’t obey your commands — but it doesn’t make it less fulfilling to care for them. You would learn to be more patient with yourself and with the horse. Both of you can make mistakes, but instead of giving up and harboring ill feelings, you start all over again and encourage both yourself and your horse to do better.
5. Psychological Benefits
Horseback riding can make us feel accomplished, which contributes to elevating our self-confidence. Even if we haven’t learned the difficult parts yet, simply ticking the activity off our bucket lists can already make us feel like we’ve achieved a milestone. What more if you continue learning and try more thrilling tricks, like jumping?
The therapeutic effects of horseback riding make it truly worth trying out. It gives you a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, allowing your mind to be in peace. The strained muscles and moments of frustration will all pay off after you’ve reaped the benefits of horseback riding.