Some parents who might bring their kids to Circle Lake Ranch for horseback riding lessons seem unsure how their children can benefit from it.
In this article series, we aim to put this straight. We’ll highlight many of these benefits, and present the scientific proof of how beneficial horseback riding is.
Certainly, there are significant physical advantages when your child participates in horseback riding.
It is not just a question of mounting the saddle and letting the horse do the work! Instead, it’s clear that horseback riding does need the rider to work, and that this is exercise.
Until quite recently, scientific evidence of such benefits was scant. Several recent studies have established exactly what these physical, psychological and like skills benefits, are.
A recent report called “The health benefits of horse riding in the UK”, produced for The British Horse Society by the University of Brighton and the Equine Department of Plumpton College highlights the strengths of horseback riding.
The first thing the study established is that horseback riding is genuine exercise at a “moderate intensity”.
Associated activities that we get the children to participate in at Circle Lake Ranch such as mucking out expend a similar amount of energy. Even more is burned when regular periods of trotting are integrated into the riding program.
The importance of exercise for children is obvious to any parent, of course. But one particularly interesting conclusion drawn by the report may not be so obvious.
It states that “physical exercise affects overall well-being, not just physical health”. It goes on to define well-being as “a positive physical, social and mental state”.
This type of physical exercise improves them physically and psychologically in an all-embracing, holistic way.
The exercise that a horseback rider participates in is both cardiovascular (aerobic) and isometric.
It’s aerobic because the UK study shows a noticeable increase in heart rate and oxygen intake when on horseback. It’s isometric because it strengthens and tones specific muscles, those needed to stay on the horse.
So, what does this actually means for your child’s health?
We’ll highlight some of the many isometric benefits in part 2 of this article.
In aerobic terms, cardiovascular exercise reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Some of these problems are a major concern for parents in this area. With just under 20% of Texas children between 10 and 17 clinically obese in 2014, it’s a major problem that must be overcome:
Science proves that obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart problems are linked. It follows that everyone – including the children – should take part in aerobic activities. Horseback riding is a great example!
And here’s the thing.
Horseback riding is exercise that doesn’t seem like it is! Compared to so many alternatives, horseback riding is more fun than ‘work’. It’s so much easier to convince them to do it in comparison to getting them to take up ‘real’ exercise’