The Physical and Health Benefits of Equestrian Activities.

Due to the decline in the necessity of equestrian usage for transportation, agriculture, and other work related designs, the horse has become a source of exercise and relaxation for many equestrian enthusiasts. Their previous skills, breeding, and training methods have generated a number of equestrian athletic activities that thousands of amateurs and professionals compete in every year. Here are a few examples.

Cutting Horse Competitions

We’re not talking about physically dissecting a horse, however the Cutting Horse has grown in popularity over the past two decades. To explain, cattle have a herd instinct which makes them stick together in herds and not separate. In the old west and even on modern ranches, the cowhands (cowboys) need to separate one of these animals from the herd in order to brand or treat the animal. Here is where the cutting horse comes in. The cutting horse is trained to walk into a herd and with the help of its rider, pick a steer or cow from the herd and separate it. If you have ever watched a cutting horse in action it’s amazing to watch their agility and speed. This is also great exercise for the rider. The rapid motion and rider’s ability to hang on necessitates great core strength and grip / arm strength. There is also a significant amount of work done by the inner adductor muscles of the legs in both holding on and guiding the horse in a direction. Overall, Cutting Horse practice and competitions is a great, low impact core workout.

Trail Riding

Horses are great for riding trails because of their strength and agility. They may also take precautions on a trail that the rider won’t, which can be a built-in safety feature. This enjoyable equestrian activity is also a great form of exercise. If you have ever been on a trail ride you may have noticed some fatigue or soreness afterwards. This is because of the muscles and endurance that is used when riding a horse. Riding horseback involves many of the core muscles that do not see much use during everyday activities. Muscles like the inner and outer adductor muscles of the legs, the forearms, and the abdominal / oblique’s gain a lot of use during a ride. Riding a horse can also be a calming form of meditative activity that is good for stress relief.

Show Jumping

Show jumping is a favorite equestrian activity for many to participate in, while others prefer to watch. The elegance and grace that a horse possesses is really shown during these competitions and the beauty of these animals is virtually unmatched. The riders also have to be in shape to compete successfully in these events. Show jumping incorporates virtually every muscle group in the body from the legs to the arms and the neck. The riders must train their bodies to properly flow with the horses movements and this requires skill, coordination, and muscular strength and endurance. These events can be compared to performing sets of judo pushups in physical training.

There are many benefits from the participation of equestrian activities from enjoying the horses to getting a good low impact workout. In 2005 Japanese engineers even partook in the development of physical exercise machines that would simulate the motions of a horse for improved physical fitness and performance. The next time you are watching an equestrian event or activity, take a look and see how many forms of muscle movement and exercise you can identify.

References

https://www.ucp.org/ucp_channeldoc.cfm/1/15/11383/11383-11383/2833

https://www.ncpad.org/fun/fact_sheet.php?sheet=22&section=155

https://www.americanequestrian.com/therapy.htm

https://www.ncha.com

https://www.aqha.com