Published on March 26th, 2014 | by Joe Starks0
Exercise Spotlight: Horse Riding
Horse riding is an ancient sport, which people still love all over the world. The earliest date at which we know for sure that humans rode horses was in 4200 B.C. Horses had been domesticated at around 10.000 B.C., but at that time they were only used as a source of food.
Humans began to realize the huge potential of using horses as a means to get around faster. The tamer ancestors of the first domesticated horses were then used to travel with. From that moment on humans developed a very special relationship with horses. Only someone who has actually owned or ridden a horse many times can realize this unique chemistry between this animal and humans. It is a balanced relationship of mutual trust, athleticism and fun, when human and horse get along well. Horse riding, above all, trains your body very well and thus can on its own right be considered a sport.
How to Train for Horse Riding
Training for horse riding is actually harder than one might initially believe. First of all you should never attempt to ride a horse if you are seriously overweight. It is simply cruel to the animal, which does have a limit of how much it can carry without having back problems. If you are passionate about riding you should be of normal weight. You also need to choose a horse that is built to carry someone your height. Taller and fitter people might need larger horses than short people.
You should at least have a basic fitness level when starting to ride a horse. One needs good core balance to stay on the saddle, strong ankles to use the stirrups and muscular legs to keep yourself on your horse.
Some good exercises to prepare you for horse riding are these:
- Stand on the edge of a step, with your ankle protruding over the step. Move your ankle up and down gently.
- Squeeze a volleyball between your thighs for 15 seconds at a time.
- Do exercises that strengthen your abdominal muscles, like leg-ups, sit-ups and squats.
- Groom your horse to strengthen your bond with the animal, as well as your arms.
Part of your training is to take care of your horse properly. Even if it isn’t your own horse, if you ride it you should afterwards groom it and give it water. Grooming your horse is both about keeping it clean and dry, as well as having that tactile relationship. Horses feel very relaxed and pleasant when they are being groomed. They are very intelligent animals and will feel thankful when you groom them often and well.
Never give your horse snacks if you don’t know about correct horse diet and if the owner isn’t told about it. Horses are EXTREMELY sensitive when it comes to food and an unbalanced diet can actually kill a horse within hours.
Don’t attempt to learn horseback riding on your own. Always begin with an experienced rider at your side to give you tips and teach you the basics. This is not something you can learn from the internet.
Benefits of Horse Riding
Horse riding is one of those sports that offer you a lot more than just physical fitness. Any respectful relationship with an animal can increase a person’s empathy, which in general can make us better people. A rider-horse relationship can also help cure loneliness in individuals that don’t have pleasant social lives.
By riding a horse, many city people can find a connection to nature through this activity. Feeling connected with nature usually helps alleviate stress and offers different perspectives to people who live far away from fields and mountains.
You can ride a horse at any age above 5, as long as you are in good health. There are smaller horses and Ponies for children to ride on. Riding can be very educational for children, as it teaches them responsibility, respect and many things about animals in general. Most children love horses.
For elderly people, riding can be a way to stay active and have a lot of friends, both human and horse. Horse owners usually use common stables to house many horses at once and these stables are great places to meet people and their horses. Taking care of horses together with others can be a great, fun experience.
There are just so many different activities you can do with your horse. Depending on ithe horse’s breed and training you can:
- Go for long country rides. You’ll see beautiful nature sceneries, much faster than you would on foot.
- Gallop. It is just an amazing feeling to ride a galloping horse.
- Jump obstacles. Light and agile horses are great for jumping obstacles with.
- Drive a carriage. Some horses are sturdily built and ideal to carry small carriages behind them.
Horse riding is part of a whole lifestyle, in which you bond with an intelligent animal and make it part of your life. It is a life changing experience for many people when they buy their first horse and ride with it. What we do know is that horse riding, as a sport and lifestyle has been part of human culture for millennia and it will continue to be for many years to come.