Horse ownership can be very exciting and rewarding. The primary benefits from horse ownership are companionship, recreation and relaxation, but many people do not often realize the health benefits that can be gained from owning a horse. Keep in mind that raising and maintaining a horse can be expensive, requires a lot of attention, and requires plenty of land for the horse to run.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Keeps you physically active: Riding and other activities that require you to be outdoors in all kinds of weather will certainly keep you moving. Cleaning stalls, grooming, feeding, raking hay, pushing wheelbarrows – all of these barn chores actively burn calories and build muscle.
- It builds self confidence: While horse riding is an independent sport, it’s actually a partnership in which the owner is a teacher and leader who works with the horse. Nothing builds self confidence better than “leadership training.” When you tell a 1,000-pound animal to move in a certain direction, and then to follow you, it’s a feeling of accomplishment that you successfully taught it to do that. And when the horse does not comply, you are responsible for administering the proper discipline. That’s a form of empowerment that’s only found working with large animals.
- Reduces stress: Recent studies have shown that even limited interaction with animals may provide a decrease in blood pressure and in the hormones associated with stress reactions. Physical exercise is a scientifically recognized mediator of stress and it is clear that equine activities may provide exercise, again highlighting the potential for equine activities to reduce stress.
- Keeps you socially active: Taking riding lessons helps you meet many friends with similar interests. Most horse people will attest to meeting their best, life-long friends at the barn. These peers will have the same passion and devotion to horses. That connection creates a stronger bond just in itself.
- Helps disabled individuals stay active: When supervised by certified instructors, riders with disabilities may have the chance to safely perform physical activities with the horse as a tool. Early research is showing that riding a horse may provide physical benefits for people with disabilities. At the same time, interacting with horses may provide mental benefits, as well.
- Engages the creative side of your brain: Training a horse brings up daily challenges that will force you to think creatively about how to train it and how to solve a particular problem. If something worked in the last lesson, but it’s not working now, how else can you solve this issue? Being faced with such situations helps you engage your creativity to solve problems and find what works best.
- Builds character: Character building is a natural part of horse ownership, teaching responsibility, punctuality, sportsmanship, frugality, patience, commitment, confidence and self-esteem.
- It promotes a union with nature: Being outside and enjoying the fresh air can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Plus, the dose of vitamin D you get from being in the sunshine is essential for your body.
- Maintains bone mass: All of the weight-bearing exercise that you do, including hauling barn equipment and carrying saddles, helps maintain bone mass, which important as you age.
- Improves digestion: Riding a horse at a walking pace stimulates the internal organs just as walking on foot does. This aids in liver function and digestion.
Click to read our article on the HEALTH BENEFITS OF HORSEBACK RIDING