6 Reasons to Saddle Up and Try Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is so much more than a competitive sport or hobby. The required balance and core strength provide physical benefits. And the bond you develop with the animals you ride can also be an emotional or spiritual boost. This activity could be especially appealing for those who live in urban areas, as the hustle and bustle of the city can leave many feeling rushed and overwhelmed.  

Horseback riding may be the perfect escape if you’re searching for a getaway. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of saddling up and riding on one of these majestic beasts. 

Improved Core Strength 

You could categorize horseback riding as an unconventional form of strength training. Instead of lifting weights or doing pushups, you’re working your core and stabilizer muscles to keep yourself upright and in the saddle. 

Studies show that healthy adults and older adults (even inexperienced riders) who participate in horseback riding programs improve their balance, coordination, and strength

Heart Health 

Horseback riding isn’t just an excellent workout for your core — it’ll also give your heart adequate exercise. The harder your horse works, the more your heart rate and blood oxygen levels increase. This effect is because, as the rider, you’re trying to keep your balance and stay in the saddle. 

According to a study commissioned by the British Horse Society (BHS), horseback riding is one way to keep your health and heart in check. In fact, Megan Hawkins, a PR executive for the BHS, considers just one-half hour of riding “moderate exercise,” while “trotting exerts more energy than playing badminton.”   

Weight Loss

Additionally, the BHS found that an hour’s worth of riding has the potential to burn off approximately 360 calories. (That’s the equivalent of one Zumba class.) Of course, this is just an estimate. The number of calories burned depends on the person’s age, weight, and current fitness levels. 

Improved Emotional and Mental Health  

Horseback riding provides many psychological benefits, too. An entire branch of therapy — equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) — revolves around interacting with horses. 

EAP has existed for centuries but is still reasonably new in mainstream society. EAP is an alternative form of psychotherapy designed to help patients reach specific emotional goals and healing through interacting with a horse, a licensed therapist, and an equine specialist. This alternative therapy benefits people struggling with anger management, anxiety, depression, stress, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Connection to Nature 

Horseback riding is a great way to get outdoors, regardless of the season. Learning to work with the weather instead of against allows one to gain a greater appreciation for Mother Nature. 

Connectedness to nature provides several psychological benefits, including stress reduction, improved mood, and increased self-confidence. According to one 2020 study, horseback riding and activity with horses in natural environments, in particular, was identified as a source of well-being and enjoyment. 


Riding will open new opportunities within the equestrian community. Getting involved with horseback riding (e.g., competitive sport, riding lesions, etc.), no matter your skill level, will allow you to make new friends with similar interests. Through this community, you’ll be able to learn, grow, and socialize with others who love nature, horses, and developing their skillset. 

If you’re seeking a new hobby, hoping to mix up your exercise routine or want to spend more time in the great outdoors, horseback riding is definitely an activity worth pursuing.

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