Before cars came along, everyone would use horses to get around, and would of been taught how to care and ride their horse. Nowadays our need to use these animals for transport is non-existent and horseback riding has now become a recreational past-time. There are many obvious health benefits to riding, including strong core and legs, but there are also many less obvious benefits, such as boost in confidence and meditation. Horses are even used in therapy for mentally disabled children- which only proves further how healthy they are!
Here is a list of the health benefits of horseback riding:
- Body Awareness: Horseback riding really works the core muscles that stabilize the trunk: the abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. However, it’s not just about the strength of the core, but the coordination and stability of it as well.
- Quick Thinking: riding a large, powerful animal with a mind and agenda of its own is a full-body workout that will force you to engage muscles you didn’t know existed and be constantly adjusting to the form of the animal.
- Coordination: There are many movements that need to happen simultaneously while riding for the horse to be properly guided- this is what coordination consists of. Therapeutic riding programs for the sight-impaired have had a lot of success developing better coordination.
- Core Strength: Horseback riding is an isometric exercise, which means it uses specific muscles to stay in certain positions, in this case, keeping balanced on the horse. Because of this, postural strength is very important when riding and the posture of riders improves even in day to day activities.
- Muscle Tone and Flexibility: Along with the core muscles, the inner thighs and pelvic muscles get the biggest workout as a rider positions himself or herself. Riders often have to maintain a squatting position while they ride, constantly adjusting to the cadence of the horse. This exercise helps with good overall muscle tone and flexibility.
- Stable Strength: Riding is not the only way this activity gives the body a workout. Working in a barn and clearing up the parks along with taking care of a horse strengthens muscles and increases cardiovascular capacity.
- Mental exercise: There are so many mental benefits to horseback riding. Not only do you really learn about yourself as you experience time on a horse but it can also have a meditative effect because for the time being, the only focus is on riding and staying on the horse.
You don’t have to have a horse to practice these exercises:
Core stability knee extension exercise.
Level of difficulty – Beginners
- Lie flat on your back with your knees and hips bent up so there is a small space between the hollow of your back and the floor.
- Inhale to prepare and while exhaling engage your core.
- Inhale again and as you exhale raise one foot just off the floor and straighten the leg out.
- Inhale, bend the knee and place the foot back on the floor.
- Repeat this on alternate legs.
Core stability single leg stretch exercise.
Level of difficulty – Intermediate
This exercise tests you hand foot coordination while testing your core with movements in opposite directions.
- Lie flat on your back with one knee and hip bent up whilst the other is straight and flat on the floor. Start with both arms stretched out above the head, on the floor.
- Inhale to prepare and while exhaling engage your core.
- Inhale again and as you exhale, raise the straight leg up, bending the knee towards the chest whilst at the same time bringing both arms forward over your head to meet your knee.
- Inhale again return the arms to the start position whilst straightening the leg
- Repeat 5-10 times and then change legs.
Try not to allow any arching of the back when you bring your hands over your head.
Try to maintain fluid movements with your breathing so that your feet and arms move in unison. Steady and rhythmic breathing in time is the key to this exercise.
Core stability front crawl exercise.
Level of difficulty – Advanced
This exercise specifically works the posterior muscles such as the Latissimus dorsi and gluteals to help align the body correctly
- Lie on your front with your forehead resting on a pillow. Place a pillow under your stomach if this is uncomfortable.
- Your arms should be directly pointing away from your feet on either side of your head.
- Inhale and set your core muscles.
- Contract the buttocks (gluteal) muscles.
- As you exhale, lift one leg off the ground a few inches, making sure that your knee is straight and your toes are pointing away from your body.
- At the same time lift the opposite arm so that it hovers about 3 inches off the ground.
- Hold for a breath and as you exhale float the leg and arm down and repeat with the opposite side
- Repeat 5-10 times
Try and keep your back as straight as possible- watch out for over-arching as you lift your leg above the ground.
Local Horse Riding Schools
Ladymire Equestrian Centre
Situated on the outskirts of Ellon in the heart of Grampian. Established in the 1970’s, and is presently run by Raymond & Nim, who maintain high standards and pass on the benefit of many years experience and expertise to their clients. They provide the very best training and facilities, to make the most of your time in the saddle. They cater for everyone, from children as young as four years old to adults, providing excellent riding tuition for all our clients, from beginners to advanced riders. They are also a competition centre and offer first class livery services
Whatever your experience and level of skill Ladymire Equestrian Centre has something for you. Riders of all abilities, from complete novices through to those of advanced skill, will benefit from their range of lessons. These are available for people who want to ride their horses and for others who prefer lessons on their own horses
Group Lessons are available in a number of different levels. They will assess your ability to ensure they provide you with the correct instruction based on each persons ability.
Group lessons are available for Children and Adults
Private Lessons are led by an instructor or senior instructor. They are designed to benefit people who require more concentrated tuition to improve their riding skills, or for riders with their own horses that need help with their training. Tuition is usually given on a one-to-one basis with the aim of achieving greater progress than may be possible during Group Lessons.
Book your Lesson Now
Call 01358 729969 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org to Book your Lessons
They are offering a 25% discount voucher on line to all new clients.
To visit their website click here
Aberdeen Riding Club
Aberdeen Riding Club is a unique organisation in Aberdeen city, which aims to “make horse riding accessible to all”. Horse riding was seen historically as an elitist sport and Aberdeen Riding Clubs aim is to ensure that it is available to as many people within Aberdeen and the surrounding areas as possible.
Aberdeen Riding Club is a non-profit making riding club, meaning that all lesson fees and memberships are ploughed directly back into the company, purchasing better equipment, horses, improving the facility and offering valuable assistance to local charities.
Most importantly, Aberdeen Riding Club is renowned in the North East of Scotland for its high quality instruction, horse welfare and instructor training. This is recognised through our “highly commended” status (British Horse Society) and in our 2013 award for “outstanding achievement” from the BHS.
When you ride with Aberdeen Riding Club you are guaranteed high quality instruction and horses, but also ensuring that you are putting something back into the community with your lesson fees.
They support Aberdeen Riding for the Disabled (through subsidising their horse costs) and Befriend a Child (through providing free riding to any children who attend through that charity).
Why not make your lesson fees count? Choose the best… Choose Aberdeen Riding Club.
To visit their website click here
T D McArdle
T D McArdle is a horse Riding School/equestrian centre in Alford, Aberdeenshire offering horse-riding lessons and/or other equine facilities, stables, dressage, saddlery or livery.
To contact T D McArdle horse Riding School/equestrian centre, please call their phone number 01975 562582.
Local Horse Charities
Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre
If you are not keen or riding but would like the opportunity to help support some horses in need and get a family day out.
Then why not visit the Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre with its inviting new Visitor Centre and Bistro.
Things to do at Belwade Farm:
Meet the horses
Belwade Farm is home to around 65 horses at any given time, and their staff are on hand to provide brief histories and information about the progress these horses are making. Why not go and meet their adoption horse, Digger and also see which horses are ready to be re-homed?
Educational displays about the work they do as well as a shop selling all of their popular branded items. Tours of the farm at 11.30am and 2.30pm or by prior arrangement (subject to change).
Dates for the Diary:
- Photography Exhibition – 15th June onwards, by Deeside Photography Club
- Vet and Farriery talk – 16th June – Joint Talk with Graham Hunter BVM&S, GPCert(EqP), Cert EP, CertAVP(ESO),MRCVS and Donald (Daffy) Nicol AWCF on the topic, “Farriers, how can we work best with them?”
- Falconry weekend – 18th and 19th June.
- Moth Trap and Pond Dip on Saturday 18th 10am till 12.30pm with the Marr Ranger and Aberdeenshire Council (FOC but booking essential)
- Sunday 19th June – Dinosaur Adventure Day. Family Fun Day out with lots of activities to entertain. Also Falconry Day (18th and 19th June) booking essential.
- Sunday 19th June – Fathers Day – Bistro Specials are available. Roast Dinners £9.95pp, Belwade Breakfast 10am till 11.30am Full Breakfast and coffee, tea or irn bru for £8.50pp.
Wonderful, fresh food made to order by their superb chef who has over 20 years experience in the industry. Whilst relaxing with a beautiful meal, you will be able to watch the horses being rehabilitated in our indoor school or enjoy the stunning views of Deeside from our decking.
Enjoy a nature walk
Their popular nature walks will take you through beautiful woodland, home to an abundance of wildlife, and along the River Dee as it travels through Aberdeenshire. From some of the high points you can see Lochnagar in the distance on a clear day. The longest walk covers five miles, but there are shorter routes! Maps are available from the Visitor Center and dogs on leads are welcome.
Have a picnic
Bring along a picnic, relax and take in the picturesque scenery of the farm and its Royal Deeside home. They can provide your picnic for you if you call to order!
Visitors can pick up a Fairy Hunt map from the Visitor Center reception! Children and adults can then go in hunt off the Belwade Fairy houses and if they are lucky they might even see them flying around the Fairy woodland!
Built in March 2013 as a healing circle, it stands on the site of a previous circle. A fascinating tribute to Celtic history, the beautiful stones are not to be missed.
They are now a part of the Deeside Geotour and also have our own mini trail on the farm. For more information on Geocaching: www.geocaching.com
They are open all year Wednesday to Sunday, from 11am to 4pm. In addition to the public opening times, they also welcome group visits, and can tailor them to meet your requirements. Call the farm on 013398 85398 for more information.
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