How Many Calories Do You Burn Horseback Riding?

If you’re on this website, chances are you love riding horses. 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 cannot deny your interest in this sophisticated sport. But have you ever asked: how many calories do you burn horseback riding?

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.

Chances are you may not even think about it, but riding is a great workout! You can burn a LOT of calories and lose weight over time. Constantly tone your legs, bum, and even your abs when you’re riding. Your favorite 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? 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.

When 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.

How many calories can you burn horseback riding

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 plethora of health benefits for you and your mighty steed.

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. Regular horse riding also helps reduce body mass.

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. Finally, I found that horseback riding was a good motivator for me to improve my ankle flexibility – you can read about why and how I did it!

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.

How many calories can you burn horseback riding

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. Unfortuantley, I’m not at that level yet because I can’t ride nearly as much as I woud like but I’m getting there.

So to sum it up: horseback riding is a sport.

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! 

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!

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