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Horseback riding can be a very relaxing and destressing activity
It can also give you a good workout. The level of intensity varies depending on the type of riding you are participating in. It can range from cruising trails in the rolling hills or making tight turns around barrels at top speeds. Your pelvic muscles, adductors, hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings are the main muscles used to keep you in the saddle, while giving your horse cues.
Your core muscles assist with balance and absorb the force from the differences of gait. For example, walking is a 4-beat gait, meaning each foot hits the ground at a different time. Trotting is a diagonal 2-beat gait.
The smoothness of these gaits varies based on the horse and its conformation.
Riding horse incorporates your whole body, which makes it an ample exercise option because of the combination of muscle engagements.
This is difficult to replicate with gym equipment and has become a unique tool for therapy programs.
Equine-Assisted Therapy has several benefits including:
- Physical treatment
- Stretching muscles, i.e. adductors
- Strengthening muscles (abs, core, back extensors)
- Coordination and balance
- Mental Health
- Occupational therapy
- Social interactions
- Emotion regulation
- Fine motor activities
Working for the therapeutic riding program was a very rewarding job. I enjoyed seeing patients progress with each session and getting to see the smiles appear on the hard days. I am fortunate enough to have horses and benefit from their unparallel capabilities. It’s amazing how a 4-legged animal can help heal the mind, body, and soul.