Although horse ownership involves a significant level of personal commitment, in terms of both time and money, you might be surprised by how many health benefits this pastime can bring. And whilst this might not necessarily have been confirmed by scientific studies, the anecdotal evidence is clear that individuals who horse ride recreationally, consistently report improved health outcomes in a number of key areas.
Whilst many of these benefits might be relatively obvious—such as the health benefits of spending time outdoors—others, you might find more surprising.
With that said, here are some of the main health benefits of owning a horse!
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Perhaps most importantly, a study commissioned by the British Horse Society found positive correlations between regular horseback riding and improved cardiovascular health.
Cardiovascular health refers to the health of the heart and blood vessels. People with improved cardiovascular health are less likely to die of conditions such as heart disease, strokes, and other diseases related to the cardiovascular system. Common interventions to improve cardiovascular health include healthy eating, reducing alcohol intake, and getting more physical activity.
With these interventions in mind, the study commissioned by the British Horse Society found that half an hour of horseback riding was considered moderate exercise and would contribute to these improved cardiovascular health outcomes.
Improved Core Strength
Another reported health benefit of regular horse riding, is that it can help you to increase your core strength.
In exercise physiology, ‘core’ strength refers to the strength of a group of muscles that are responsible for stabilizing and controlling the pelvis and spine. They act as a link between your lower and upper body. If you have good core strength, you will be better able to maintain body posture, load and unload joints, and move more easily.
Horse riding helps to build core strength as pushing your legs into the body of your horse will engage your core muscles.
Improved Mental Health
In addition to the mental health benefits that come from getting outside regularly and exercising outdoors, there are other mental health benefits associated with horse ownership.
As with any other ‘pet’, keeping and maintaining your horses, to a good level of health, requires a significant commitment of time. Prioritizing the care of your horse over any other responsibilities that crop up during the week teaches a sense of personal responsibility and commitment, which can help to improve feelings of self-confidence.
There is also a social aspect to horse ownership, as horses are typically kept at stables where other horse owners keep their horses. This creates plenty of opportunities to foster social relationships with like-minded people. Having a strong social life has been shown to improve overall mental health, which is another clear benefit of owning a horse!
You can benefit from these mental health benefits regardless of whether you are horse racing in person, or watching Horse Racing Betting at William Hill Canada! Horse racing is known to have a particularly strong social element, which applies equally to both taking part in horse races or simply betting on them.
Lower Stress Levels
According to the American Institute of Stress, regularly engaging in outdoor activities has been shown to reduce stress levels. Outdoor activities help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, give us time to take our mind off the regular stressors in our daily lives, and can help to improve our moods.
This is also true of horse riding, with many horse owners reporting improved moods and lower stress levels.
There is something inherently calming about horse riding, given the natural rhythm of the horse and rider when they are in full flow. And when this is done outdoors or in the garden, the calming effect is amplified. The combination of time spent outdoors and lower stress levels, helps to reduce blood pressure and improve moods.
Another surprising health benefit of horse riding is that it can also help to burn calories.
One study undertaken by Texas A&M University found that low- to moderate-intensity horseback riding for 45 minutes could burn up to 200 calories. This was increased if the activity was at a higher intensity, such as during cutting or reining.
This is in addition to the calories you would burn undertaking the work that a horse owner must get done, such as lifting saddles, grooming the horse, sweeping out stables, and any other related chores. Horse ownership requires this kind of maintenance on a daily basis, so the calorie burn will be consistent throughout the week, even when you aren’t actively riding!