Throughout the past 15 years that I’ve been riding horses, I’ve gotten quite a variety of reactions from people after they learn I ride. These reactions range from “Wow, that’s such a hard sport to do, are you like, a jockey?!” to “Oh, horseback riding isn’t a sport, the horse does all the work.” Most of these responses are just rooted in the fact that people don’t know anything about the wonderful sport that stole my heart when I was five years old. I want people to fully understand exactly why this sport is so special and unique, and how it changes the lives of everyone who has the opportunity to try it, myself included.
It’s a great workout for your core and leg muscles especially:
We all want to workout, but sometimes we want to workout without it feeling like a workout. Horseback riding is a wonderful way to accomplish this! Your leg muscles are the main thing keeping you on the horse, so if you ride consistently, you’ll automatically develop insane calf and thigh muscles. Also, your core is super important too to keep balance, so if you’re looking for a great leg and core workout, horseback riding is perfect!
2. It allows you to meet people of all different walks of life:
Age doesn’t seem to matter with my barn friends. Some of the best people I know that I ride with are much older or younger than I am. My three best barn friends are 21 years old, 13 years old and 45 years old. When the common denominator between you and your friends is your passion and love for horses and the sport, age is but a number.
3. It teaches you about responsibility:
By having a horse to care for, you grow up learning just how important it is to be responsible and take care of important things in a timely manner. After all, you’re caring for a living animal that is relying on you for survival, so responsibility is a trait quickly learned in this sport.
4. It provides the best therapy and escape you can think of:
When you’re horseback riding, no matter what level you’re at, you are forced to clear your brain and think about nothing other than the ride you’re having at that moment.
You become immersed in the barn life and mentality, and you’ll quickly forget about anything else that was bothering you or on your mind before you pulled up to the barn.
Horses have a magical way of occupying your full attention and by doing so, it allows you to take a psychological break from the stress of the real world.
5. Horseback riding is a very mental sport:
This can work positively and negatively. If you’re always passionate and fearless and ready to get on and absolutely crush your ride, then you will. The horse will feel your confidence and perform just as you want them to.
It works the other way, though, where if you had a bad day and you get on without confidence and you let your nerves consume you, the horse will also feel that and take advantage of that. This is why horseback riding is so amazing, it instills confidence in the most immersive way possible.
6. It teaches you to be brave:
To get on a 1000 pound animal and ride it is quite a task, and bravery is something that immediately goes along with learning how to ride a horse. Taking chances is a vital part of learning how to ride a horse, and if you can learn how to bravely ride an animal that could kill you in one fell swoop if they wanted, you can really tackle anything else in life!
7. It shows you the importance of patience:
Not everything comes quickly or easily with this sport. It takes a while to move up levels because it takes a while to build muscle and courage. Horse shows are almost always “hurry up and wait” events, so patience is key to having a good horse show day. Even in the normal ride, sometimes the horse won’t understand exactly what you’re asking of it, and you need patience to reassess what you’re asking the horse to do and how you’re asking so you can get the most out of your ride.
8.You learn how to bounce back after making a mistake:
It’s an old saying that when you fall off your horse, you just gotta get right back on. This is so true, and you’ll find that anytime you end up failing in any aspect of riding: whether you actually fall off, you mess something up or don’t accomplish what you need to, the best thing is to dust yourself off, get right back up and try again. This is an important life lesson, you can’t let life knock you down, you’ll never survive. So dust yourself off and try again.
9. You never stop learning:
If you’re the type of person that likes to keep learning and your curiosity never ceases, horseback riding is the sport for you. Even the Olympic riders still take riding lessons frequently. Each ride is different and with all the different types of horses and personalities out there, you’ll never be bored and you’ll always learn something new from each ride you have.
10. It gives you a best friend:
Bonding with a horse is different than bonding with any other animal. My horse Neeko knows my every movement. He knows who I am when I walk up to him and he knows exactly what buttons to push to get me to give him treats. When I ride him, he knows exactly how I’m feeling, which immediately translates to him how he should behave. He knows when my head is in the game or when it’s in the clouds, and I know the same about him. I know what he does when he isn’t feeling well, and I know from how he’s acting in the first two minutes I see him if we’re going to have a good ride or if he’s going to be a nutball. Neeko is my best friend, a kindred soul that has traveled with me before and will travel with me again. Finding this bond with a horse is something so inexplicably wonderful that I really hope everyone gets to experience this type of relationship at least once in their lives. It’s worth the money, the blood, the sweat and the tears, I promise.