Although people may not think “fitness” when they consider taking the reins, horseback riding can be a serious butt-kicking workout. It may look like the horse is getting all the exercise, but it takes balance, strong legs, and a stable core to stay in the saddle. This old school hobby is an awesome way to spend some quality time in the great outdoors and get beyond a basic gym routine. Before hitting the trails, check out our guide to horsing around with bournevalestables.co.uk
Since people first hopped into the saddle around 3500 BCE, horses and humans have been inseparable partners in crime. When the automobile (aka “horseless carriage”) got popular in the late 1800s, horses became used for recreation, not work. These days most people pony up to exercise, compete, or just have fun. The first step before heading to the barn is deciding which style of riding to try. Most stables teach English style or Western style, although some places offer both. So what’s the difference between English and Western? The two styles use different equipment (aka “tack”), which affects the rider’s position and communication with the horse. English tack is smaller and less bulky, which makes for closer contact between the horse and rider. Western saddles were originally used by cowboys on long cattle drives, so they’re built for comfort and stability with a deep seat, long stirrups, and a saddle horn for looping a lasso (or hanging on!).
A new rider might feel like a sack of potatoes in the saddle, but maintaining the correct position requires a surprising amount of strength. Squeezing the horse to change gaits works the inner thighs, while sitting tall and straight in the saddle uses the back, abdominals, and legs. Ready for the challenge? Take these steps to go from wannabe equestrian to confident cowboy (or girl). afety first. The first step for any new rider is to find a well-reputed local stable. Barns aren’t supposed to smell like the Macy’s perfume department, but a safe establishment should be clean, legitimate, and in good repair. Look for a Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA)-certified riding instructor who has experience with beginners.
Dress the part. Wear long pants to protect legs from chafing against the saddle, and close-toed shoes with a small heel to keep feet from slipping out of the stirrups. Avoid all clothing that could get tangled in equipment including scarves, thin tank top straps, and long, loose sweaters or shirts. Most stables provide helmets, but call beforehand to make sure. Although not ideal, a bike helmet is better than nothing to protect the noggin in case of a fall. Drink up. Horseback riding, especially on a warm day, can work up a sweat, so bring a water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the ride. Follow the leader. When leading a horse, stand to the left of their head and hold the long leather straps, called reins, with the right hand below their chin and with the left hand a little bit down the length of the reins so they don’t drag on the ground.Read More