Riding horses is fun— in fact, it’s pure exhilarating—but it’s so much more than just a good time. Horses change lives, they open up your worldview and broaden your opportunities; having worked around horses my entire life, I have seen time and time again the magic they produce in people of all ages. After a day at the barn, you might not be able to bring your new 4-­‐leged-­‐friend home with you, but you will accumulate a number of other take-­‐home perks; here are 10 of the best benefits horse riding offers!

1.  Confidence Boost

No matter how old you are,  riding horses will improve your self-confidence. Riding a   horse is not easy,  but every time you ride you will feel the improvements,  as your legs become less wobbly and your rhythm more confident.  As we improve at something we feel accomplished and thus our confidence increases.

Plus,  horses are not something  EVERYONE  is involved with;  therefore they produce conversation and curious queries,  when people are interested in our lives we naturally feel better about ourselves.

2.  Tone Thighs

No need to busy yourself at the gym with those boring squats! Riding horses will tone your thighs like nothing else,  in fact, good luck walking the day after you ride;   you’re going to be pretty sore! It takes months of  consistent  riding  to  get  used  to  the   tremendous  amount  of  unique  muscles  used  when  riding.  Your  legs  help  you  steer   and  hang  on—in  fact  they  never  stop  working,  not  even  at  the  walk.  As  you  become   more  comfortable  in  the  saddle  you  will  learn  different  exercises  that  will  hike  up   the  intensity  of  your  exercise,  such  as  dropping  your  stirrups.  In  other  words,  the   more  that  you  ride,  the  more  fit  you  will  get!

3.  Cardio Workout 

We  know  the  key  to  losing  weight  and  getting  fit  includes  some  cardio,  but  a   treadmill  isn’t  the  only  way  to  get  your  heart  rate  kicked  up! While  muscles  are  used   to  steer  and  stay  on,  some  are  surprised  to  learn  that  riding  horses  is  also  a  cardio   workout.  Too  many  times  I’ve  heard  someone  assume  that  riding  horses  is  easy  or   that  the  horse  is  doing  the  majority  of  the  work.  While  you’re  not  the  one  running   around,  you  are  going  to  be  working  very  hard;  expect  to  get  sweaty  and  have  an   increased  heart  rate.  No  matter  how  advanced  you  become,  you  are  going  to  feel  the   cardio  effects—the  best  part?  While getting this great work out you will hardly realize  it,  you’ll  be  too  distracted  by  all  of  the  fun  you  are  having.  Still,  don’t  forget   some  water  because  you’re  going  to  need  it!

4.  Clear you are Mind

The  world  is  cluttered  with  stress,  school,  work,  families,  bills…  it  can  all  get  a  bit   overwhelming  at  times! Yet  as  humans  we  are  part  of  nature,  we  were  never  meant   to  live  glued  to  our  cell  phones  and  computer  screens;  give  yourself  the  break  you’ve   been  craving.  Before  you  even  mount  a  horse  you  will  feel  a  decrease  in  your   nervous  energy—a  good  thing  because  horses  can  pick  up  on  your  energy,  the   calmer  you  are,  the  calmer  they  will  act  too.  Being  out  at  a  barn  is  a  reality  escape,   you’ll  be  so  busy  looking  after  this  huge  1,000  pound  animal  you  won’t  have  a  spare   second  to  think  about  the  little  things  otherwise  scurrying  through  your  mind.

5.  Build Responsibility    

Horses  are  high  maintenance  and  require  regular  care;  caring  for  a  horse  is  a  lot  of   work,  even  if  you  don’t  own  one! Looking  after  such  a  large  and  powerful  animal   gives  one  a  purpose,  you  can’t  just  forget  to  pick  your  horses’  hoofs  or  forget  to   tighten  your  girth  before  getting  on,  all  of  these  little  details  add  responsibility  to   ones’  plate—yet  even  kids  don’t  mind  taking  all  of  this  on  because  the  rewards  are   so  instantaneous.  Along  with  a  great  deal  of  watchfulness,  horses  also  need   discipline;  when  kids  are  put  in  the  position  of  authority  over  a  horse  they  often   better  understand  and  respect  their  parents’  authority  over  them.

6.  Find Friendship 

Regardless  if  you  feel  lonely  or  not,  there  is  no  companion  like  a  horse.  When  you   arrive  at  the  stable  your  4-­‐leg  friend  will  greet  you  with  their  signature  hello,  they   will  love  you,  and  cuddle  you;  horses  have  the  loyalty  of  a  great  dog.  With   friendship  blooms  love,  and  it’s  not  hard  to  love  a  horse! In  fact,  every  little  thing   they  do  is  pretty  darn  cute  and  will  spark  feelings  of  companionship,  something  we   all  need  to  feel  whole.        It’s  not  just  horses  you  will  meet;  there  are  many  2-­‐leged  friends  to  meet  at  the   stable  as  well! With  a  variety  of  age  groups  and  individuals,  you  are  sure  to  find  a  new friend  to  connect  with.  I  have  met  some  of  my  favourite  people  out  at  the  barn,   animal  lovers  with  kind  hearts  and  adventurous  souls.

7.Physical Therapy

Horses are known to rehabilitate what once seemed irreversible; horses possess a healing power we have yet to fully understand; just take Krystal Greco for example. Now 16 years old, Krystal was only 14 when a rare spinal cord injury left her paralyzed. Instantly she feared how she’d continue her lifelong love of riding horses, yet it turns out that by continuing the sport—despite the lack of function in her legs—she has been able to reach new heights in her recovery; her latest goal is to walk at her high school graduation.

It might seem odd to someone who doesn’t regularly ride—that your legs could be improved by simply sitting on a horse—but it’s true, and it makes perfect sense. When you ride, you don’t have to move your legs, but your muscles have a chance to start working on their own; as they move with the motion of the horse and aid your balance you are gaining strength you would never develop sitting on the sidelines.

8.Emotional Therapy

Horses are excellent listeners, they don’t judge or discriminate, and they do all that they can to please. Perhaps this is why they provide unbeatable emotional therapy to those that ride them. Depression, anxiety, or any other emotional instability can be curbed by the love of a horse. Not only will being active out in nature clear your mind of repetitive or stressful thoughts, but also the horse itself provides a shoulder to lean on, and a mighty large ear to talk to! In fact, as you communicate with your horse, you will notice how they turn their ears to listen.

9.Improve Posture

Slouching is a common problem but unfortunately, bad posture will increase your risk for a back injury and add weight to your figure– among other things. Riding horses can help cure your slouched posture.

Horses are so sensitive to riders’ aids that they know when you simply tilt your head to the side. Riding lessons will force you to ride in the correct form, with a straight tall back and forward-facing eyes. This form will carry over into your everyday life, without any added thought or effort on your part.

10.Experience the Rush

Riding horses, especially at faster speeds, is a serious adrenaline rush! Even after riding nearly every day of my life, I still feel giddy when my horse plunges forward, the wind blowing back at us. The more often you ride the more comfortable the horses’ gaits will feel, before long you’ll be ready to sit back and take a deep breath, enjoying the rocking motion provided by the horse beneath you. If you are in a safe enclosure, try closing your eyes, even if only for a couple of beats—the feeling is sure to thrill, plus the more you let go of the physical world, the better you can connect with your horse. So lets giddy-up and have some real fun!!