Feel Good

Why horse riding is a killer workout – and where you can find adult beginner classes in the North East

Written by High Life North
Published 26.05.2021

Gym not your thing? Not a fan of team sports? Still want to stay fit? We may just have the perfect solution for you…

Horse riding is a brilliant way to stay active and has lots of extra benefits, too. Aside from a chance to socialise with a new friendship group (people you can, you know, horse around with), horse riding is also a breath of fresh air for our mental health and gives us a chance to exercise our more competitive side.

‘The benefits of horse riding are immense!’ says Leigh Belbin from Murton Equestrian Centre. ‘The enjoyment, physical and mental fitness and a chance to enjoy some fresh air.’ All things we could do a little more with, basically!

So… let’s get physical

Horse riding will hugely improve your core strength and posture, as you develop your ability to stay put in the saddle. And sure, it may sound like the most simple ab workout we’ve ever done (and it may well be!), but it’s not necessarily the easiest – although the tone you can develop is definitely worth it.

You’ll also strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, which all support the work your abs do to assist in your control of your horse. Your balance and coordination will develop as you learn to move in unison with your steed – meaning the faster your horse moves, the harder you have to work.

As you’re riding, you’ll burn as many calories as you would by going to the gym or playing certain team sports (think football or netball). Even at walking speed, you can burn over 200 calories per hour on a horse, while if you get up to galloping you can burn up to 650 per hour.

Plus, exercise won’t just be restricted to the one activity of physically riding your horse – you’ll also have to muck in (or is it muck out?) at the yard and help care for your horse too. And all that means is more muscles working and more calories burning. Sold yet?

Your head and your heart

Like learning any new skill, learning to ride and developing your control over your horse will undoubtedly improve your confidence. Better yet, the time you spend in the saddle can have a wonderfully calming effect, providing an unrivalled chance to get away from your day for an hour or two and give you a useful antidote to any stress you’re feeling.

Horses will always present you with new challenges and you’ll need to be making adjustments all the time as you ride. Not only will this help to enhance your mental agility, but it will also improve your decision making and self-confidence – as well as giving you some much-needed head space.

There are also significant mental health benefits to the sport. A study conducted by The British Horse Society concluded that horseback riding stimulated mainly positive psychological feelings, reducing depression by 30% among participants and lowering the chance of dementia by 30%. It really is incredible!

Apart from anything else, having any kind of hobby is good for the soul. It’s something you can do for you – giving you some time away for everything else where you can prioritise your passion and development. Giving yourself a hobby is giving yourself some self-care. And we can all do with a little TLC from time to time.

Let’s go horse together

Horse riding is a great way to meet new friends and socialise with like-minded people. Your newfound pals can encourage a little competition (always healthy) and give you that drive to push yourself out of your comfort zone, meaning you can develop your skills further and improve your self-esteem.

And, of course, we couldn’t forget our four-legged friends who make this all possible! Horses can actually offer a significant amount of emotional support. Specialists agree that they’re keen observers and are sensitive to our movements and emotions. They’ll often mirror our behaviour, conveying an unspoken sense of understanding and connection. That’s why they’re often used in therapeutic settings, such as equine-assisted psychotherapy.


But more than this, every horse has their own sense of personality and unique character. Forming a bond with them can be an incredible enriching and fulfilling experience.



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