7 Health Benefits of Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is one of the most popular activities at the Ranch this summer. It is a very accessible sport that any level of rider can enjoy. Even for beginners who might take a little more time before they get settled, horseback riding brings peace and relaxation.

At Three Forks Ranch, we are always looking for ways to support our guests on their SUSTAINABLE WELLNESS journey with activities that are not only fun but also provide health benefits. Horseback riding is one of the most popular activities at the Ranch this summer. Our wranglers are very positive and encouraging, always looking for ways to boost a rider’s confidence to make their experience more enjoyable. 

At the beginning of a horseback ride at Three Forks Ranch, the riders head out on the dirt road and begin to meander through the Aspen trees. With stunning scenery for miles, every view is simply breathtaking. There is no such thing as a wrong turn. Horseback riding is not only a fun outdoor activity to explore in nature, but it also has many long-lasting health benefits.

Here are seven health benefits of horseback riding:

Horseback riding promotes Sustainable Wellness

Horseback riding requires as much patience as it does balance and coordination, key components of sustainable wellness

Delaney Pluta, Wrangler, says, “I personally think horseback riding is one of the most therapeutic things you can do on the ranch.” A rider must connect with the horse. It is a mindful practice that allows for greater awareness of posture, muscles, and breath. The more the rider relaxes, the more the horse relaxes, too.” 

Supports Burning Calories

Horseback riding burns a lot of calories. According to Horsenation.com, riding a horse for just 45 minutes at a walk, trot or canter can burn up to 200 calories. Most rides at Three Forks last one to three hours at a gentle walk. The simple act of sitting on the animal forces the rider to balance. Riders have to use some specific muscle groups to cue the horse and engage in the activity, which can help you to burn even more calories.

Improves Core Strength

In order to ride well, or comfortably, the rider must keep her core engaged, thus protecting the spine and keeping herself upright. Muscle tone is created by constant tension, so the flexing and contracting that happens while riding a horse supports core strength.  That’s right, riding a horse helps to sculpt those abs and obliques! 

Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Riding a horse gives guests a break from the stress of daily life and a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Vickie McDorman, Head Wrangler, says that her favorite thing about taking the guests riding is the connection with nature. She says, “When you’re riding a horse, you are truly in nature, riding through nature. It is a wonderful way to get centered and feel connected to everything.” 

Improves Coordination

Horseback riding might appear easy, but it takes a lot more to ride a horse than meets the eye. Riders don’t just sit atop the horse while it moves under them. To properly ride the horse, one needs to coordinate various body parts and balance. People compare riding a horse to an attempt to rub your belly, pat your back and skip simultaneously…which is not easy. It is an activity that engages the mind just enough to allow the body to relax. 

Improves Posture 

It is easy to feel the core muscles and back working to support good riding posture, as well as the gentle tug of the obliques engaging to climb and descend hills. To maintain an optimal sitting and standing position, one needs the abdominal and lower back muscles to be in top gear. When you consider the core muscles that horseback riding targets, it helps improve the posture significantly.  Research shows if your riding position is excellent and balanced, your overall posture will improve.

Encourages Companionship

Our wranglers, Vicky and Delaney, are very knowledgeable about how to relate to the horses. They show a rider how he can pay attention to a horse’s ears to see if it is alert or spooked or relaxed. The way that a horse holds its head and neck can communicate a lot about how the horse is feeling. Horses make terrific companions that can understand our behavior and attitude. When the ride is over, it’s not uncommon for a guest to feel that he has made a new four-legged friend.

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