By Chris Dixon
If you think that riding a horse doesn’t involve much more than just sitting there like a lump on a very large, moving log, think again. Horseback riding has proven health effects, both physical and mental. Riding is a valid and fun form of exercise that new and experienced equestrians alike can enjoy. Here are the most-common benefits of getting on your favorite horse.
Being outdoors, getting fresh air, seeing nature–these are all great for your overall mental well-being. After a work-week of being cooped up in the car, office, and house, a horseback ride across a pasture or along a trail can relieve stress and help you feel better. In fact, the British Horse Society reported that even infrequent riding can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Then there are the benefits of bonding with another living being: in this case, one that’s much bigger and stronger than you could ever be. Whether you’re riding that beautiful equine along a trail, giving him a good brushing afterward, or mucking out his stall, you’re interacting with a large animal: something that requires patience, effort, and trust. This boosts confidence; if you can take proper care of a horse, you can do all sorts of other things.
If you want to get in a muscle-building and cardio session without going to the gym, take a ride. Being on a horse requires constant adjustments, both large and small, to stay balanced. Lots of muscles work together to keep riders in the correct positions. New riders may “feel it” the day after in their arms, abs, backs, and even legs. You’ll have both tightness and soreness, especially at first, but keep working at it! Soon enough, your body will get stronger and the unpleasant parts will go away.
Being on horses can also improve your overall balance and coordination. You frequently shift your weight as the horse moves, just to stay in the saddle where you belong, and all of your limbs are involved in the effort. As an added challenge, you have to keep both of your hands free a lot of the time so that you can control the reins–so you can’t spend your whole ride clinging to the saddle horn or the horse’s mane.
Horses offer riders and caretakers lots of benefits; some are less obvious than others. Some are immediately apparent, like your overall mood after a good ride. Others take time to develop. As you keep riding, you’ll notice that you don’t ache as much afterward, that you’re less tired after a good session, and that you’re more physically capable off the horse than you were when you started.
By: Mill Pearl
Horses are some of the world’s most beautiful and majestic creatures, and they can also teach a lot about life. Following are 10 important lessons that can be learned from these equine friends.
1. Come with a treat. Is there a better way to gain a friend than to welcome them with a treat? Apples, sugar cubes, and molasses are beloved by horses, but human beings can also exchange “sweetness” with friends and strangers they meet at the barn or anywhere else. By the way, if you give a horse a treat, make sure your hand is completely open so they can eat off your palm and not mistake fingers for carrots.
2. Respect boundaries. When you get too close to a horse without him knowing, you might spook him and end up meeting the bottom of a rear hoof. Good cowboys (and cowgirls) respect each other’s boundaries. Crossing those personal lines shows disrespect and hinders the successful building of relationships — with either horses or people. Horses will tell you to pay attention to body language as one way to know if you’re crossing boundaries. If a horse pins its ears back to its neck, you are too close and need to back off. It’s true that humans can wiggle their ears, but that’s about it. Even so, a person’s body language can tell you something about how they’re feeling without words.
3. Keep your feet clean. Don’t forget to wash between your toes. With age, you may find it harder to reach those digital phalanges, but try getting some suds between them to avoid stinky feet! The same is true for horses. The inside of each hoof contains V-shaped cartilage that can clog up with dirt and manure. The junk left inside might lead to a condition known as “thrush.” By the way… did you know that that V-shaped cartilage is called a “frog”?
4. Watch the tangles. Horses love their tails for a variety of reasons. For instance, they make great fly swatters. You should never comb a horse’s tail from top to bottom because, if you do, you will merely rip the hairs from the dock and leave them thin, frail, and broken. Instead, start at the bottom and work your way upward. This approach works well on long-haired children too. If you start at the top and pull the comb downward, tangles will result in tears and screaming munchkins. Horses will be happy to keep their natural fly swatters, and long-haired children will appreciate the benefit as well. A little bit of conditioner helps the horse’s tail, as well as long-haired horse-crazy kids.
5. Eat Healthy. You won’t find horses eating fried food or drinking soda. The spectacular health of horses would suffer if they did. Horses, on the other hand, consume a lot of roughage, including hay, grass, and grains. Of course, they enjoy a special treat every now and then, but their diets are carefully designed to support proper digestion. We also should pay careful attention to our diets. Eat lots of green, leafy roughage to your heart’s content, fill your bellies with good food, and don’t overdo it with the desserts.
6. It’s not the blue ribbon that makes you the best. Sometimes, first place simply means you got lucky. Celebrate your success, but don’t let the accolades get to your head. In any sport, a champion is someone who consistently gives their best effort to the pursuits that are meaningful to them. If you have commitment, good sportsmanship, training, and extraordinary dedication, you can win many first-place awards. However, remember that having good people in your life is more important than a ribbon. Strive to succeed, but do not forget to cherish your relationships so that you can celebrate your victories with loved ones.
7. Get out and run. A horse doesn’t like to spend long hours in his stall each day. Aside from grooming and training, they need time to go beyond the riding arena, jumping fences, and dressage markers, to stretch, gallop, and roll in the mud. It’s essential that you get out of the house, office, or workplace to have fun, too. Take a walk along Main Street, go for a bike ride, or go for a run on a regular basis. Move freely while taking in some fresh air and recreation. It’s a healthy habit for both you and your horsey friends.
8. Drink lots of clean, cool water. Even though this might seem obvious, most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should. Horses need a lot of water to keep their insides functioning properly, and you should, too. Drinking eight cups of water a day will also help curb your cravings for too many sweets. In the event that you consume too many sugar cubes, you will not be able to fit into your britches for very long before you need to change sizes. The first step to maintaining a healthy diet and a good digestive system is to drink plenty of water every day.
9. Live in the moment. A horse is not overly concerned about many things. They don’t look ahead and worry about life and what the future holds. Rather, they live in the present moment and solve problems as they arise. Other than that, they just want to eat, sleep, run, have fun, and be comfortable. Horses can teach us a lot about not worrying about more than we need to. We will handle the obstacles that come with grace and confidence as they come.
10. Horses have feelings, emotions, good and bad days. This is what makes any sport involving horses unique and different. Unlike swinging a bat or wearing a pair of skis, working with these social animals reminds us about the value of relationships. With a little patience, encouragement, and looking out for one another’s best interests, we can find ourselves on track for a blessed and joy-filled life.
Horses have brought much joy to the world. In ancient times, they were partners in battle. They even pulled fire trucks to blazing buildings before combustion engines took over the job. Even if you don’t live on a farm or take riding lessons, horses have a lot to teach the world about life.
Huge congratulations to our champion rider, Berkley Burnett and her sidekick Shakira! And another huge congratulations to two time reserve champion Ty Anderson and his partner, Alejandro! Special thanks, as well, to Hannah, Rylie, Cate, Piper, KD, and Olivia for their amazing accomplishments! Our students and our horses all performed spectacularly and everyone brought home ribbons for a wonderful performance! And the parents who trucked all the way down so that their passionate little riders could participate made the weekend an unforgettable one! Thank you all for your time and your trust! We look forward to building an unbeatable team with you!
If you’ve visited recently, then you already know that there are trucks everywhere, enough metal laying around to construct a skyscraper, and ample noise to overstimulate even the calmest rider. But all of this discomfort means that our dreams of dry rides and shelter from the summer sun are coming into view! Hang in there! It will be worth it!
Our new covered riding arena should be complete by mid- October! New jumps, competition grade footing, and comfortable riding no matter the weather are just a few weeks away!