I don't care what you say, horseback riding IS exercize

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This subject is something that I care very very strongly about. Any horseback rider I'm sure would feel the same way. People frequently ask me, "But how much work are you actually doing up there, anyways?" A whole lot!!!! is the answer. Of course, the amount of exercise that you get when riding depends on multiple factors, such as style of riding, frequency of riding, and how easy or hard your horse is to control. I have been riding for as long as I can remember and it kept me in great shape when I owned my own horse and rode 6 days a week. My most recent horse was a 5-year-old Thoroughbred gelding named Jett and I trained the big psycho for 4 years. We accomplished a lot together.jett.jpg
He was very strong, green, and stubborn; sometimes just a huge asshole, but very athletic and I needed to keep up with him in order to stay in control and have him respect me. 
But to move on to the fitness aspect, I will focus on Eventing, which is what I competed in with Jett. Eventing is made up of three phases: Dressage (described as "horse ballet"), cross country (what you see in the photo above), and stadium jumping (jumping raised wooden poles). Each phase has its own demands on the body of both horse and rider. 
Dressage, though appearing to be the least tiresome, is actually the most strenuous phase in my opinion. The object is to look as if the horse is performing movements without any cues from the rider. Your entire body is used when riding effectively. The inner thighs, abs, and back are all engaged to keep your body upright in the saddle and absorb shock from the horse's movements. Lower leg is used to support and direct the horse and arms and shoulders are used to give cues to the mouth and topline. Lots of energy can be used when trying to train a horse how to use his body or when dealing with a horse with a stiff neck or back. Lots of effort is put in to make the horse supple and responsive.
Cross country in competition is equally exhausting as Dressage can be in practice. In the upper levels, optimum time can be be around 12 minutes. That is 12 minutes of non-stop galloping and jumping. The endurance and stamina required for this phase is crucial along with a certain degree of fearlessness...
Stadium jumping is the shortest of the 3 phases. This is a test of fitness of horse and rider. They must be able to recover from the previous phase well enough to make it around the course as fast as they can without knocking any poles down. 
Here is an article that I found that is rather silly, but does talk more about how riding can get you fit.
I know I did not explain all of the horse terms I used fully, but if I got into that, this post would have gone on and on forever. This is something I'm passionate about and is what gave me six pack abs and "Eventer thighs", so don't you ever ever say "The horse does all the work."

1 Comment

I can honestly see how horseback riding is exercise! The balance you have to keep while atop the horse can't be easy especially if you are jumping and doing barrel racing! Having to hold on the reins requires strength from the rider to be able to control which way you guide the horse as well as holding on really tight!
Here's an entire article talking about the different types of exercise riding on a horse entails! http://www.lifescript.com/diet-fitness/articles/h/hate_gyms_try_horseback_riding_as_exercise.aspx

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