How Can Horse Riding Boost Your Physical and Mental Health?

Around 80% of people in Ireland are sleep deprived, and one in four battling stress on a daily basis – according to research on over 13,000 people carried out by Laya Healthcare. As is the case with the rest of the globe, the Irish are also leading far more sedentary lives than they should. Horse riding can help with both mental problems (such as stress) and physical ones (such as sedentarism) and is, as such, increasingly recommended by doctors as both a therapy and an active pastime. If you already enjoy riding and are curious about the many benefits it can bring your life, read on!

Horse Riding vs Stress and Sleepless Nights

If you want to keep sleep well at night, you need to do two important things: fall asleep within about half an hour of getting into bed, and wake up no more than once during the night. It can be hard to achieve these requirements, of course, if you are beleaguered by stress – and this is where horse riding can come in. Research from Washington State University on youths showed that simply interacting with horses significantly lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol.” The effect lasts many hours after human-equine interaction, which is great for those battling stress-related conditions like anxiety – which can in turn affect sleep. Horse riding can help you align your sleeping pattern with your partner’s if necessary, by making it less likely that you will be the one up all night worrying.

Horse Riding and Cognitive Improvement

If you have kids in the family and they are keen on horse riding, know that this activity can help them physically and mentally, by improving their balance, strength, and their cognitive abilities. A study published in Frontiers in 2017 showed that the vibrations produced by horses during this activity activates the sympathetic nervous system (which improves a child’s ability to learn). Researchers noted additional benefits – including an improved ability to make well-thought-out decisions and to make well-reasoned conclusions.

The Physical Benefits of Horse Riding

Some of the many physical benefits of horse riding include improving core strength, balance, and coordination. Frequent riders also tend to develop excellent tonification in the thigh muscles,as well as greater strength in the pelvic muscles. During intense riding sessions, horse riding can also give your heart a good workout, especially when faster speeds are involved.

Equine Assisted Therapy

Equine assisted therapy – which often involves riding – is currently used successfully to improve many conditions – including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, autism, and cerebral palsy. It is also useful for those who fear social interaction, because it can be easier to build a trusting relationship with a horse. Equine assisted therapy also helps people who need to hone both fine and gross motor skills. Riding helps these and indeed all persons improve equilibrium, strength, and muscle control.

Horse riding has a plethora of benefits, both for your physical and mental health. Riding improves our cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, but also helps us battle stress and get a better night’s sleep. One 2013 study even showed that horses can teach human beings how to communicate better, and be kinder. One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten is how fun – and deeply mindful- riding can be. It is no wonder that those who try it once usually want to repeat the experience.


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