Sir Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” (And a woman).
Working with horses is hard work, but its good work, and its work that is good for you, just as Winston Churchill said.
Whether you are on the ground or on their backs, working with horses has many health and psychological benefits.
Working with horses is out doors work and the benefits of air and sunlight as opposed to artificial lighting, air-conditioning and sedentary work in front of computer screens is self evident.
Preparing your horse for riding, grooming and saddling, are strength and stretching activities, as well as a bonding exercise for horse and rider.
But it is the actual riding that has so many benefits for us on many levels, for horse riding is not only a sport, it is a partnership with countless health benefits.
It combines a physical workout with a mental challenge. It can increase self confidence, balance, focus, coordination, confidence, and social and motor skills.
Horse riding is a cardiovascular workout, conditioning the heart lungs and associated blood vessels. It is most effective in working the major muscle groups in the body, developing leg muscles, core body strength, deep postural control muscles, and strengthening arm and hand muscles.
The psychological benefits can include raised self esteem, lowering of stress levels, and has been proven to combat depression.
Horse riding is invaluable for young people to learn responsibility and accountability for another creature. Getting to know a horse, both on and off the horse, requires a sense of empathy and good observational skills. Being around horses sharpens your wits and makes you more aware of your own safety.
Reading the subtle body language of a horse can not only prevent an accident but can make for a better understanding of unspoken cues and the energy of interpersonal interactions.
A clever employer once told me that he would always hire a horse owner over another similarly qualified applicant, because the horse owner would know about hard work, routine and handling the unexpected.
Horse riders have to be good time managers and budgeters, they become networkers and researchers and they are passionate.
Rebecca Carrol said “A pony is a childhood dream; a horse is an adulthood treasure”.
When I see young people who love their ponies and adults who treasure their horses, and I see that they are passionate about their sport, I know that horse riding IS good for you!