Horseback Riding - Physical and Mental Benefits
You may think that riding a horse isn't that much different from going on a ride at an amusement park. You just jump on and the horse does all the work, right? Well, not quite. Horseback riding is a sport that has many great physical benefits for riders. Riding helps develop balance and coordination because the movements required to keep a horse steady require good body awareness. Horseback riding can also help strengthen the muscles in your legs, back, shoulders and abs. After a day of riding horses, most new riders will find their inner thigh and butt muscles actually become quite sore. As well, riding a horse helps stimulate the body's internal organs, which is why horseback riding is often used as therapeutic exercise for people in wheelchairs or with other disabilities.
Horseback Riding - Getting Started
If you'd like to take horseback riding lessons, check your phonebook for information on local horse clubs or ask someone at a local horse show. During the summer, many places also offer horseriding camps for those looking to become better riders. Whether you take lessons for a day or week, make sure your instructor is properly certified and always wear approved equipment including helmets, riding boots and stirrups. Horseriding accidents are rare but falling off a ride can be extremely painful - so ride safe.
Horseback Riding - Different Styles
Once you've learned to ride a horse, you way want to get involved in these other popular horse sports.
- Show Jumping - Riders guide their horse through a course of obstacles including fences, walls and poles.
- Horse Racing - If you're quite small and have a competitive spirit, you could have a future as a racehorse jockey.
- Barrel Racing - This popular rodeo sport involves racing a horse around sets of barrels in a ring.