/ Core Strength /
Sitting on a horse is like driving a
car, says McAllister. When you’re
driving, you’re constantly making
slight adjustments with the steering
wheel to keep the car going straight.
The same is true when you’re
sitting on a horse: you make subtle
shifts with your body to stay in
balance with a moving horse; otherwise, you fall off.
These miniscule movements are
created by flexing and contracting
your core muscles, so your core is
constantly in motion and constantly
/ Balance /
Riders have excellent balance because, again, we’re sitting on
a moving animal and staying upright. McAllister points out
that balance is a very big deal, especially as you get older.
“When we get older, things get a little more difficult to
do; we can’t put our socks on while standing up, we need
to sit down or lean against something,” she says.
/ Reflexes /
Riding helps maintain good reflexes. If you don’t have
these, you’re not going to stay in the saddle.
“You’re constantly making quick adjustments in space
and time on a horse’s back, so your reflexes get a good
workout every day,” says. McAllister.
/ Coordination /
Ever watched someone try to swing up into a saddle
for the first time? Just getting in a saddle takes a lot of
coordination. When we’re children, we were constantly
working on mastering it, but don’t give it a second thought
/ Motivation /
The main physical benefit of horseback riding? The motivation to get out and be active, says McAllister.
“As I get older, I have no motivation to go to the gym;
if I had to get on a treadmill and run to nowhere, I would
never do it,” she says.
“But if I know that every morning my horses are waiting
/ Inspiration /
in their paddocks or in the barn, I’m inspired to put my
shoes on and go outside to check on them and get to
work. It’s the motivation to get up and get moving. I could
probably get a better workout if I went to the gym and did
a weight routine or ran for all those hours, but I have no motivation to do so. I
probably wouldn’t even leave my house.”
Being in a very simple, straightforward environment with your horse is a wonderful thing mentally and physically. Even if your time in the barn or in the saddle
didn’t cause you to sweat much, McAllister believes it can help inspire you to be
a better rider by taking extra time to work out outside of the barn.
“I have women buying horses from me in their 50s and 60s,” she says. “They
remember the joy. After a while it’s not enough to stay in shape just to stay in
shape. Riding, even if you don’t feel you have a fabulous workout, will make you
feel more inspired to take a yoga or Pilates class, spin, lift weights, walk or run.
You’ll be more inspired because you know it’ll make you a stronger and more
effective rider. The motivation is a really huge aspect.”
MEGAN ARSZMAN is a freelance writer based in Indiana, where she’s learning to balance motherhood with horses, dogs and writing.