People who have never ridden horses before will probably say “the rider just sits there, the horse does all the work” …WRONG! Horseback riding is an excellent form of physical exercise. Try holding a sitting trot for longer than 5 minutes straight… you’ll feel your abdominal, thigh, upper back, and arm muscles all working to ensure your stay in an upright, balanced position. In fact: “Riding a horse for 45 minutes at a walk, trot and canter can burn up to 200 calories. If you do something a bit more strenuous such as reining or jumping, that can come out to nearly seven calories per minute for the entire length of the riding period” (www.equinechronicle.com).
It is so easy to make friends with someone when you have similar interests. Meeting someone new for the first time can be awkward and difficult to start up a conversation. However, meeting someone new at the stable is so easy! With a simple, “how was your lesson?”, conversation will start flowing. Some of my dearest and longest friendships have been because of horseback riding. Whether it was at the barn, at a horse store, or an equestrian event, I have always met the nicest people through horses!
Accomplishing goals you & you’re coach have set out, gives you such a great sense of confidence. Confidence travels with you through every avenue of life. If you are confident at the stable by trying new things with your horse, that confidence may start to show in the classroom as well!
4. Facing your Fears:
Horseback riding definitely comes with a lot of fears or nervousness! The first time you try going faster at the trot, or the canter, or maybe the first time you take off over a jump! Learning how to harness those fears to achieve something great is such an important lesson to learn. Throughout life, there will always be things that you must do that may make you feel nervous or unsure, but knowing how to overcome those obstacles is important!
Taking care of an animal comes with great responsibility. Before every lesson, students are in charge of ensuring their horse is ready to go into the ring. This includes general care of the horse such as grooming and tacking up the horse. After the lesson, riders are required to take care of their equine partner and make sure their horse is properly cooled down after their workout. This process teaches riders that fun activities, such as riding, comes with hard work and dedication.
6. Goal Setting Skills:
With anything that you want to achieve in life, goals need to be set to be able to reach the desired result. Take jumping for example, horseback riders understand that before they are able to learn how to jump, first they must perfect keeping their balance at the sitting trot, then the canter, then over poles placed on the ground. Once they accomplish all of those steps, then they are ready to learn how to jump. Learning the fundamentals on goal setting teaches students that if they want something, they will have to work for it, step by step.
7. Respect for Animals:
Working with an animal that is over 1000 pounds comes with a lot of respect! Horseback riding comes with the needs of the rider but also the needs of the horse. Some days the horse you are riding, may not feel like jumping, and that’s okay! This is something that all riders will experience at some point and learn very quickly. Understanding that these animals are only listening to what you are asking of them because they are willing to and not because they have to. Sometimes, we have to adapt our lessons, or goal for the day to what the horse is willing to do. These lessons turn riders into compassionate, and more understanding individuals. It’s no longer ‘all about me’ but it’s about the bond between the horse and rider.
8. Understanding of Money:
Let’s face it! Horseback riding is not a cheap sport to partake in! My parents were great with making sure I understood this at a young age. I was lucky enough that my parents were able to support my horseback riding hobby to the fullest. They would pay for my riding lessons, as I was just a kid back then. However, if I wanted something special for riding, such as a new fancy, pair of breeches, they would have me save up and buy it myself. I thank them every day for how they chose to teach me the lesson of saving your money for things that are important to you. It has enabled me to start a business at such a young age!
9. Calming Therapy:
Horses are mirrors to your emotions. If you are having a tough day, then come to the barn upset, your horse will be able to sense that and will react to it. When working to such sensitive creatures, you must be relaxed, because of this, horses have had an amazing calming therapy on myself. Coming out to the stable and grooming your horse is a great escape from reality. You must leave any drama at the doors of the stable.
I think pride comes with most sports. Being able to proudly say “I am a horseback rider” comes with a certain amount of pride. Pride itself, comes with a lot of self-growth, such as self-respect, dignity, satisfaction in yourself, and self-esteem. These characteristics have a great impact on how one presents themselves, whether it be interacting with friends or in the classroom!
If you are interested in horseback riding and you're in the Toronto area, you have to come and meet Jacqueline!
This blog is written by numerous contributors from our business and other programs.