is a good
At least once, you’ve probably heard some wisecrack that horseback riding “isn’t a sport”—you’re just sitting there and the horse is doing all the work. And, unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not your peers that say this, but your physician as well.
Rallie McAllister, M.D., a lifelong horsewoman, has
heard it all before. She’s aware that some doctors out there
tell their patients that riding doesn’t count as exercise, or
it’s OK to do even with medical conditions, because it’s
It’s something all equestrians know: The only people who say riding is not a good
workout are the ones who have never ridden a horse, or ridden one properly.
“It absolutely is a workout—anyone who’s ever ridden or schooled a horse can tell
/ Aerobic Exercise /
you that there is an increase in heart rate, you sweat, and your muscles get sore,” says
McAllister. “I challenge anyone who says riding isn’t a workout to try it and see how
they feel the next day. I bet they’ll feel muscles they’ve never felt before.”
We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know. But perhaps you need
a little justification for why you put yourself through the long days in the barn,
not only for your horse’s health, but for your own. Here are some of the many
mental and physical benefits of riding.
When you’re going for a hack, not only will your horse’s heart rate increase, but
so will yours. Next time you’re riding at a brisk trot, stop to take your pulse and
see if your heart rate is up.
To be sure you’re obtaining a good aerobic workout, you’ll want to hit 70 per-
cent of your max heart rate. Use this simple formula: 220 - your age = max heart
rate. To get 70 percent of this number,
multiply it by 0.7. For instance, 220 -
34 = 186 x 0.7 = 130.
Take your pulse for 15 seconds,
then multiply it by 4 to get your
heart rate. Better yet, wear a fitness
wristband that measures heart rate
and just check it periodically.
“This is a good way to measure if
you got an aerobic workout—if you
get there, that’s great! But even if you
didn’t, no big deal, it’s still a workout,”
says McAllister. “Also, don’t forget that
the better you get at riding, the greater
your workout can be. You might not
get muscle sore, but you’re getting a
greater aerobic benefit.”