Riding horses regularly is one of the best ways to improve your mental health and well-being, while also improving your physical fitness and overall health. What many people don’t realize, however, is how many physical and mental benefits horse riding can provide to them over time.
Horse riding isn’t just about being outside and spending time with animals; there are also some health benefits of horse riding to keep in mind if you’re considering it as an exercise routine or hobby. If you’re interested in taking up horseback riding or have been doing it for years, here are some psychological benefits of horse riding to help encourage you along the way!
7 Psychological Benefits of Horse Riding
Horse riding can be incredibly therapeutic, both physically and mentally. The sport can improve your balance, make you more independent, and teach you how to work with an animal in order to achieve the outcome you desire together. These are only some of the psychological benefits of horse riding that we’ll cover in this article.
1) Horseback riding as a therapy
Horseback riding can be used as a therapeutic tool to treat many mental and physical conditions, such as PTSD. For example, one study found that after two months of riding at least once a week, soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder had fewer symptoms of depression than soldiers who didn’t participate in the therapy.
Another study found that patients with chronic pain disorders reduced their pain by 50% through use of horseback riding. Those with various forms of arthritis reported less stiffness and discomfort while riding horses.
A 2009 study published in The Journal of Psychosomatic Research even concluded that if individuals suffering from bipolar disorder engage in equine therapy they are more likely to remain stable and adhere to treatment.
2) Increase confidence and courage
Feeling confident and courageous on a horse often happens naturally, especially if you have a supportive teacher or ride in an inclusive community.
Those who work on their courage through horse riding will also see an increase in motivation as well as sense of accomplishment. Those who are looking for change or reassurance may find it through the rigorous mental effort required to overcome the challenges inherent to horseback riding.
They will likely find new opportunities and take risks they might not otherwise be able to do in their everyday life. Learning how to navigate challenging terrain is one way people develop this type of confidence that spills over into other areas of life as well.
3) Build social skills
If you’re looking for a fun way to build social skills, horse riding is the answer. A study in Applied Animal Behavior Science found that riding horses improved interactions with other people by increasing empathy and leadership potential.
The mental benefits of horse riding are hard to beat! One study on psychology students suggests that horseback riding can help with executive functioning and attention span. There’s even some evidence to suggest it may help reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function, too.
4) Cognitive development
Horse riding can help a child with their cognitive development and teaches them valuable skills they will carry through the rest of their life.
The child has to be active, plan out how to jump a fence, apply pressure to the horse’s side, and work together with the horse to reach a goal. From an early age, children learn how to control their own bodies in relation to the more fantastic world around them.
They learn about equine and animal husbandry practices. Children may also use these lessons when playing or helping out on the farm. A recent study found that children who ride horses have higher levels of emotional intelligence than those who don’t.
5) Improve balance and coordination
Horse riding helps develop a person’s balance and coordination by creating a physical challenge. This is advantageous because it helps people improve their abilities and be better prepared to handle any other situations where they might need to maintain equilibrium.
It also improves communication between the brain and body, which in turn can lead to an increase in concentration and focus. An even more important skill that develops as a result of horseback riding is equine safety awareness.
You’re always responsible for your own safety, so being attentive and aware at all times while on horseback is essential for reducing injury risk. Safety awareness leads to safer interactions with horses, making them less likely to injure you or run away from you when you are around them.
6) Weight loss and health improvements
A quick search for horses on PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health’s online database with more than 26 million citations from MEDLINE indicate more than 500 articles on horse health and care.
Besides being adorable pets, horses have psychological benefits that can help us lose weight and improve our health. Below are 7 reasons that horse riding can make you healthier. They might not all be relevant to your life situation, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a read.
1) You get exercise by walking, running, or trotting on a horse while leading it around obstacles in a round pen or arena.
2) Horseback riding is a low-impact exercise and improves balance.
3) Horses also encourage you to interact with other people by going out to ride as well as attending horse shows and events where there will be plenty of socializing opportunities!
4) Going horseback riding can provide mental peace and clarity when things seem hectic and chaotic.
5) The relationship between humans and horses has existed since ancient times, so interacting with a horse may remind you of fond memories from childhood when you had your first pony ride at the fairgrounds.
6) Horses are forgiving animals who don’t judge their riders harshly if they fall off or make mistakes; this helps relieve stress.
7) Horse riding offers a fresh perspective on problems. When you’re atop an animal much larger than yourself, some perspectives become less daunting. Suddenly what once seemed insurmountable feels like something we could conquer if we keep trying. For example, those difficult personal problems that were stressing you out suddenly seem like a tiny little blip on the radar screen.
Horse riding is often linked to relaxation. Horses have a soothing effect on the body, reducing stress and tension, promoting well-being, and building new neural pathways.
Getting on a horse can make you feel like you’re in control and going in the right direction with life. To get the most out of horse riding, try to take some time for yourself while you ride to think about your problems and what you need to change or focus on in order to live your best life possible.
It’s important to find time for yourself every day, but it’s so easy to forget sometimes. By taking a few minutes out of your day to do something that makes you happy, it will help you be able to focus better on other things when they come up throughout the day.
There are many ways you can incorporate horse riding into your life to improve psychological well-being. You can find a new hobby, boost self-esteem, learn a new skill, socialize with others and enhance cognitive function. These benefits range from learning a new skill to the physical release of endorphins. If you have been considering giving horse riding a try but haven’t yet taken the leap – give it some thought!