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  • Daryl Fletcher

5 Benefits of being involved with horses

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

There are many benefits to involvement with horses, for people of all ages. Equine activities may encourage physical activity, for people of varying abilities. For example, simply walking out to a barn, grooming a horse, lifting a saddle and riding may provide more physical activity than many people typically get, especially in our era of computers, television and more sedentary lifestyles. For those who don’t want to ride, grooming a horse, cleaning stalls or feeding may also encourage physical activity. When people decide that they’d like to improve their riding skills, they may be inspired to begin a non-horse related conditioning program as well.


MENTAL/EMOTIONAL/SOCIAL BENEFITS OF HORSE OWNERSHIP

There are a variety of mental benefits to equine activities, and we are at the edge of a frontier of scientific research to actually quantify those benefits. In the past several years, professional organizations have formed to share the advantages of equine assisted activities with regard to mental health. At first glance, however, most people involved with horse are instinctively aware that there are social benefits, and that horses provide an outlet for stress reduction, mood improvement and that equine activities may provide a type of therapy much different from traditional means.


SOCIAL BENEFITS

For people living alone, simply interacting with another living thing provides a tremendous motivator and social benefit. Often, as people get involved with equine activities, they gravitate toward people with similar interests. There are literally thousands of clubs across the country that allow people to come together to enjoy their animals and preferred activities. For more information on these groups which serve the interests of people of all ages, contact your state Horse Council.

STRESS REDUCTION

Recent studies utilizing dogs and dolphins have shown that even limited interaction with the animals may provide a decrease in blood pressure and in the hormones associated with stress reactions. In our busy world, having an outlet to manage day-to day stress can only be beneficial and for many, horses provide that outlet. Physical exercise is a scientifically recognized mediator of stress and it is clear that equine activities may provide exercise, again highlighting the potential for equine activities to reduce stress. Research has also shown that regular meditation may reduce stress indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone levels. While research investigating the role of horses in stress reduction still needs to be done, there is a meditative quality to grooming or working with a horse that may provide a similar benefit to meditation.


MOOD IMPROVEMENT

Most parents of teenage girls recognize that if their daughters are in a bad mood, interaction with a horse will often improve that mood. While research investigating the interaction between horses and mood improvement is ongoing at Michigan State University, early indicators are that there is in fact an improvement in Mood Inventory Scores of teenage girls after 15 minutes of quiet interaction with a horse. There is no reason to believe that the same would not be true in adults as well.


Horseback Riding...

  • Increases balance

  • Improves respiratory &circulatory systems

  • Improves coordination

  • Stimulates muscles in the legs,arms, and core

  • Reduces stress

  • Burns calories & helps with weight loss

  • Increases muscle strength

There is a variety of lifelong skills and characteristics that a horse owner gains from owning and caring for their horse. In a study published in “Professional Animal Scientist,” the authors proved that “performance by youth in both horsemanship and life skills was above average.” There are multiple things to learn and ways to grow by owning a horse.

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