There’s an old adage equestrian enthusiasts and idiom aficionados like to use: That one can be as “healthy as a horse.” The metaphor comes from ye olden days, when horses were the epitome of all things virtuous and beloved: to be graceful, intelligent, strong and strong-willed, and – more significant for Health Fitness Revolution, healthy. To be deemed healthy as a horse is to be equated to having the physical prowess of a horse and may very well be the physical aesthetic we aim for.
But why even use the phrase “healthy as a horse” if we don’t absorb the lessons our fine friends teach us? Health Fitness Revolution compiled a list of the top 10 life lessons we can learn from the habits of our horses. Hopefully, we can adopt these behaviors and become not only healthy as a horse, but as healthy humans as well.
Samir Becic, 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the world and HFR’s Top 10 Health Benefits of Owning a Horse:
Drink more water – Drinking water is essential to all life. Drinking water has numerous health benefits including improving skin, hair, internal organ function, and overall hydration needed for energy and everyday functioning. Both humans and horses can survive at least a couple of weeks without food but will perish quickly with lack of water. On average, horses will drink anywhere between 5 to 10 gallons of water a day. Though by no means should we, as humans, drink that much water, we should aim to drink more than we currently do. To determine the average amount of water you should drink in ounces per day, multiply your weight by ⅔. This number may fluctuate depending on how physical active the individual is. The more active you are, the more water you should consume to replenish lost fluids during a workout.
- Plant-based diet – Horses eat primarily grains and grass/hay. Humans thrive best when they eat primarily whole grains, greens, fruits, and vegetables, however humans often consume meat, dairy and processed foods while the bulk of our diet should contain more plants and grains. Read our raw diet article to learn more about eating a plant central diet.
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods – Compared to processed foods, unprocessed foods contain more vitamins and minerals as well as phytochemicals – a powerful nutrient in plant foods. They also contain higher levels of fiber and beneficial fats. All of this combines into a more rounded and nutrient-rich diet, causing you to be better protected from disease as well as feel more satisfied after each meal and.
- Eat more whole grains – Whole grains have been found to have the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, regulate a healthy weight, and reduce constipation. Research has found many health benefits and decreased risks in several diseases such as stroke risk reduced by 30-36%, type 2 diabetes risk reduced by 21-30%, heart disease risk reduced by 25-28% and better weight maintenance.
- Include more fiber – Fiber is very important for both humans and horses. It is particularly essential to include a lot of fiber in a horse’s diet since they have a long digestive tract and, compared to humans, have a reduced capacity for digestion. Horses will eat for a decent portion of the day and consequently will have a continuous digestive flow. Constant fiber keeps that flow going smoothly. Many humans, especially the elderly, have a reduced ability to effectively digest as well. Fiber can also reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and even reduce the risk of colon cancer. Some foods rich in fiber include corn, whole-wheat bread, various beans, oatmeal, almonds, avocados and pears.
- Eat several small meals – Having a diet fashioned by consuming several small meals a day can help maintain healthy weight and eliminates big fluctuations in body weight. This kind of diet also promotes portion control and can boost metabolism. Those who follow this diet plan say they feel more satisfied at the end of the day due to an even spreading of meals throughout the day.
- Exercise daily – Daily movement is necessary for horses. They hardly lay down and are always standing and galloping about. In both horses and people, regular exercise helps to prevent and manage diseases such as metabolic syndrome, arthritis, stroke, and certain kinds of cancer. Exercise is also proven to improve the mood and boost energy!
- Improve dental care – Like humans, a horse’s digestion begins in the mouth. Grasping and chewing of the food by the lips, tongue, and teeth allow the horse to grind food into smaller pieces. Particularly, this is important for efficient digestion because, as mentioned, horses have a different physiological digestive process. For this reason, dental care is important to the horse in order to facilitate adequate digestion of food. If horses don’t have appropriate dental care, it may lead to dental problems like poor chewing, which can cause them to choke. For humans, dental care has become a staple part of life. Brushing your teeth twice a day is often a given, but flossing, using mouthwash, as well as breaking habits that can damage your teeth (such as smoking cigarettes, chewing on ice and consuming soda) can improve your dental health and reduce your risk of gingivitis, mouth sores, and other dental diseases.
- Promote trust and bonding – Horses tend to be soothing and gentle animals; usually their presence alone can promote healing itself. Because of their mild temperament, horse owned tend to have reduced levels of stress as well as a reduced risk of strokes. The benefit is mutual between the horse and the owner. While the horse relies on the human for shelter, food, and maintenance, the human relies on the horse for companionship.
- Get lots of rest – Sleep is not only necessarily for all living things, but also an important function. A good night’s rest supplies the body with energy to take on a full day. Horses are very active during the day and as a result need plenty of rest and a proper sleep schedule. Humans, especially in this day and age of juggling multiple tasking, must also have a good sleep schedule. While it may be tempting to finish projects late into the night, note that your health is your priority! Plus, having a great night’s sleep can give you the energy you need to take on any projects and give you the boost you need for morning exercises.
Equestrian enthusiasts! For more of our horse-centric article, check out the top 10 health benefits of owning a horse, top 10 health benefits of horseback riding, and the social and mental benefits of horse ownership