We’ve all wondered at one point or another: how many calories do you burn horseback riding?
If you’re on this website, chances are you love riding horses. Or maybe, you’re looking for a way to burn calories and get fitter without the torture of dragging yourself to the gym or out for runs everyday?
Either way, there is no doubt that horseback riding is excellent exercise!
I bet you didn’t know how much of a workout riding really is. You might have had some idea when you rode that really stubborn mare that just wouldn’t move and you couldn’t feel your legs for the rest of the day, but you probably don’t know just how much.
When I first met my boyfriend, he had never ridden. He would tease me SO much about how riding wasn’t a real sport and how the horse did all the work. I know, I know – it was almost a deal-breaker let me tell you.
Finally, I convinced him that he had to at least try it before he ragged on it so much.
After his first trail ride, he could barely walk the next day because he was so stiff.
You only need to ride for an hour after not being in the saddle for a while to know that you’ve got a workout. The soreness is real, let me tell you!
Even as a very regular rider, if I do something different, it won’t take me long to start sweating and really feel it the next day:
- riding a stubborn horse requiring a lot of leg
- cantering (going fast) for a while at a time
- riding bareback
- riding without stirrups
Whether you do it once in a while on your vacation, you’re just starting out with lessons, dreaming of the day you can run your own ranch (guilty as charged!) and of course if you’re competing, you can’t deny that horseback riding is pretty awesome as far as ways to exercise go.
You can burn a LOT of calories and lose weight over time. Plus, you constantly tone your legs, bum, and even your abs when you’re riding.
Your favourite hobby just became the best workout activity for you.
Does this seem too good to be true? Let me explain how.
How Many Calories Do You Burn Horseback Riding: Calorie Count Breakdown
Even riding a horse for one hour can help a lot if you’re trying to lose those pounds and tone your body. It may be hard to believe that sitting on a horse can actually make you slim. Still don’t believe me? Let science prove this wonderful news to you.
A study conducted by AgriLife Today, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science, asked that very question: how many calories do you burn horseback riding?
The authors proved that horseback riding is a great and effective workout regimen. It showed that riding has an overall effect on our bodies’ primary functions including cardiac and respiratory health.
For riding enthusiasts just like myself, we all know that horse riding can be really hard and exhausting.
So, exactly how many calories do you burn horse riding?
Just like with other exercises and sports, the exact number of calories that you can burn while horse riding depends on your weight and riding style.
For an average woman of 150 lbs, cantering a horse can burn up to 93 calories in 10 minutes.
If you ride at the trot, you can burn up to 74 calories in 10 minutes.
If you ride at the walk, you can burn 57 calories in 10 minutes. Remember that even if you’re riding that stubborn mare, you can still burn more calories.
Basically, you can range all the way up to 384 calories at a trot in 10 minutes – YES, I know! It’s crazy.
These are results you’re just not going to get on the elliptical. So pat yourself on the back for all that riding that you’ve just been doing for fun.
Leg muscles are key
Just like any other workout, you have to do it right for it to be really effective. Otherwise, you will not get the results you expect. I’ll tell you how horseback riding can possibly help you improve your fitness.
Contrary to popular belief – when you’re riding, your horse does not do all the work.
Every muscle of your body should be engaged in the workout. Leg muscles, of course, are going to be your prime instruments for burning calories.
When we ride, our thighs help us to stay on the horse. They act as our stabilizing force around the trunk of the horse, keeping us on.
Your heels should be pushing down towards the ground and your entire posterior chain, including your glutes, hamstrings, and calves, should be activating.
The key to making horseback riding highly effective in calorie burning is to keep your heart rate up.
Do not just settle for walking your horse – trot, canter, and gallop! These will increase both you and your horse’s heart rate – enabling you to burn more calories.
There are many people who cannot go jogging or running because of joints problems. But they can go horse riding. I am one of these people. I have a herniated disk in my L5/S1. Ouch, right? Lots of doctors have told me to quit riding but would I listen? Not a chance!
I found that if I engaged my muscles effectively – especially my abs (super important for stability by the way!) I could ride pain-free.
If you aren’t engaging your abs and pulling that belly button towards your spine, especially during a canter and dropping gaits, you’re missing out on a really effective tool for controlling your body on the horse.
This technique is a MUST if you’re in dressage!
Otherwise you’ll be flopping around and banging your tail bone on the saddle, which is very, very bad for a herniated disk, in case you were wondering…
There are also people who do not like ***cough – hate – cough*** running, but they love horse riding. I think some of you may be able to relate to that? So, if you are one of those people, you do not have to worry now because horse riding is actually THE best workout for you anyways.
Other Health Benefits
Aside from keeping you slim, horseback riding brings a ton of health benefits for you and your horse.
When you do any form of physical exercise, your body releases endorphins, or “happy hormones”.
These feel-good hormones help alleviate pain and give you a sense of euphoria.
During any workout, serotonin (another hormone great for your health) is also produced. This is causes reduced appetite and weight loss.
The frequent use of your leg and core muscles during horse riding strengthen your muscles. This helps your body cope with fatigue and worn out muscles easily.
Horseback riding also helps in regulating blood circulation and improving cardiac health.
You’d be surprised how many people have terrible ankle flexibility from sitting at desks all day. This can cause real problems with your knees and back over time.
For others, riding is their personal form of therapy and meditation. An hour of horse riding gives me a sense of calm and inner peace. It gives a certain therapeutic effect to most riders.
Horses benefit from riding too! It is not only humans who enjoy riding. Even your loyal riding companion loves your workout regimen.
Frequent riding gives horses sufficient and regular exercise. It strengthens the horse’s muscles and bones. It is also helpful in their heart and lung health. Muscle mass, which your horse can gain from riding, helps bolster insulin sensitivity and avoid diabetic complications.
Lastly, your horse stays happy when he is well-exercised. Even horses get stressed and anxious. Exercise, or riding, is the best way for them to let out some of the anxiety and stresses they feel. Riding also builds a strong connection and bond between the horse and rider.
With all the additional benefits I have listed above, it seems to me that horseback riding is definitely one of the best workout regimens you can get.
You’re burning fat too!
Well obviously…but I just thought it deserved to be said 🙂
I mean have you ever seen a professional horse rider who is overweight? If you have let me know because I haven’t seen one yet. In fact I would say they’re all extremely lean. Unfortunatley, I’m not at that level yet because I can’t ride nearly as much as I would like, but I’m getting there.
So to sum it up: horseback riding is a sport (don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise!)
But, many people go for horse riding once in a blue moon and then they say that horse riding is nothing except a hobby and a sport. However, if a person does it the right way and on a regular basis, horse riding can help you lose weight by burning fat. There is only one condition for burning fat by horse riding. And that condition is “you should take it seriously”.
If you are sitting on the back of a horse and doing nothing except slowly walking around, then you are less likely to lose weight. On the other hand, if you actually engage in horse riding vigorously, it can help you lose weight and become slimmer.
If you regularly trot on your horse, it means you are spending more energy which leads to weight loss.
As if you needed another reason to go horseback riding!
Don’t worry, I’ve got even more for you. Horseback riding is also EXCELLENT for your mental health. Read more about it here: Why Horseback Riding Is Therapeutic.
If you’re like most people who start riding, you’ll soon get addicted and it’s going to be all you’re going to want to do. For me, riding better is a huge motivator for me to keep improving my strength and flexibility.
Here’s a post I wrote on how to get fit specifically for horseback riding: Exercise Guide For Horseback Riding
By reading all the benefits of horse riding and how it can help you to stay fit, become healthier and burn calories, you don’t need any excuse to be lazy.
So what are you waiting for? Get up and go riding!
Posts For Beginner Riders You Might Like…
- 10 Tips To Look Like A Pro Your First Ride
- 10 Western Riding Hacks For Beginners
- How To Groom A Horse
- How To Wash A Horse
- How To Ride A Horse
- How To Buy Your First Horse
– Martina 🙂