Have you ever heard someone say that horseback riding is easy because the horse does all the work? Ask any rider and they will say, “Not true!!” If you learn to ride a horse you will find and engage muscles you never knew you had.
For adults in their late 20’s through mid 30’s, learning to ride has special benefits as you will challenge yourself and gain new direction as life settles down from finishing your education and finding your new job. You will also give your brain a thorough workout. The mental benefits are spectacular as there is no time to think about the cares of the day while you learn to communicate with an animal 10 times your weight and 20-30 times your strength. Sound like a challenge? It is! And the endorphins are wonderful too!
In a typical or traditional workout routine, you may become bored or your muscles become acclimated to the demands of your particular routine. Changing things up is good for our minds and bodies. Gretchen Crass of GST Fitness and Wellness located in Brookeville, MD believes new sports or activities are beneficial. “The sooner you learn new activities the better as you will see results faster. If you rode as a child, the muscle memory is always there and the skills will come back very quickly.” Gretchen also believes, “You don’t need equipment to be fit. Horseback riding tones the body but does not add bulk. Time on a horse finds and engages muscles that are hard to challenge, especially the inner, upper thigh. Also core muscle groups get a serious workout as they are continuously working.” Another wonderful and unexpected benefit is your personal presence. Gretchen notes, “Your improved posture and assertive stance will be a huge positive influence in your career and people will notice your confidence”.
Obviously, we find and challenge new muscle groups but there are other unexpected benefits to horseback riding. Once you are up in the saddle your brain is working hard. Sending messages to new places and concentrating on what you are doing 100% of the time. Giving yourself a mental break from the daily stresses of an adult life will help you feel like a new person. You will be more ready for the challenges of the rest of your week. Dr. Sherry D. Goldman,
Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatrist in Rockville, MD has more food for thought. Dr. Goldman reveals, “Teenagers like to think that they are grownups but actually the human brain never stops evolving. It reaches its peak of complicated functioning in the mid-twenties. Lots of people get into a groove during their mid-twenties to mid-thirties because many aspects of personality development have been completed by then …my education, my career, my partner, starting my family, etc.” Dr. Goldman believes, “Changing up your exercise routine can provide a new goal and direction to challenge you. That is where horseback riding comes in. It is unlike any other sport. It uses different muscles, a different way of thinking, a shared experience between you and your equine partner. During this stage of life it is a perfect time to explore equitation. It is like opening up a new door for your brain, for your body and for your spirit.”
One other unexpected benefit is the wonders of connecting with another living creature and enjoying each other’s company. Horses are social and most do enjoy their human friends. Kip Mistral’s article, Measuring the Emotional Bond between Horses and Humans, (www.habitatforhorses.org/measuring-the-emotional-bond-between-horses-and-humans/) states, “Often times, we only need to be in a horses presence to feel a sense of wellness and peace. In fact, research shows that people experience many physiological benefits while interacting with horses, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased levels of beta-endorphins (neurotransmitters that serve as pain suppressors), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning; and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy.”
So, the horse does all the work? Come on out to the barn and give yourself the lifetime gift of physical, mental and spiritual health with a four-footed equine friend just waiting to join you in a new adventure.