Right now you probably find yourself in the middle of what the old phrase refers to the dog days of summer. This season you should think a little bigger; much bigger, in fact. Make this the summer you try horseback riding.
Before any other considerations, be sure you have taken the necessary steps to protect yourself and the horse. All riders need helmets, all the time. Be sure you get one that fits properly and that you wear it without fail. Next step: find a horse accustomed to riders of your skill level especially if you are a novice. Consult a large-animal veterinarian to ascertain that the horse is in good physical shape. Health insurance for horses is a necessary investment to protect your horse’s health and your wallet.
Riding a horse involves using all major muscle groups. Just staying on the horse requires a great deal of core strength. Lower body muscles get a workout similar to traditional strength training, as do arms and shoulders. Riding that requires higher levels of agility and speed from the horse will involve a cardiovascular workout for you. As your skills progress you will improve your balance, coordination and flexibility. The workouts don’t stop when you dismount. Working in the stable involves shoveling, raking, lifting and hauling everything from bales of hay to bags of feed weighing 50 pounds each.
Horseback riders experience mental benefits along with the physical aspects of the workout. Riders often find each session a grounding experience where they learn to balance focus and relaxation, effort and calm. Interaction between humans and animals can result in lower stress levels and reduced anxiety. Being outdoors confers its own benefits including improved mood and cognitive function. There are social benefits as well. The most obvious is the camaraderie among riders, but the advantages extend beyond the barn. Learning to master such a large, strong animal instills a measure of confidence that translates to other areas of your life.