Riding provides mental and physical benefits.
Confidence and self-esteem: Improving their skills and achieving previously difficult riding tasks increases a person’s belief in themselves.
Teamwork and cooperation: Riders learn to work with their horses as a team. As they become more advanced they begin to read the horse’s strength and weakness. They start to understand how they can change their riding in response.
Stress relief: Riding can take a person’s mind off their day to day worries and reduce stress symptoms. Horses listen but only judge if the rider is out of balance with them. Riding is a sport like no other and incorporates balance, feel, accuracy and core strength. Even just going to the stables, doing yard work and horse care or just meeting like-minded people can provide a welcome escape. This is especially true for people who live in busy urban areas. At Contessa we are happy to take on volunteers. You are welcome to spend extra time with the horses.
Responsibility and discipline: Riding and caring for horses is very good for teaching children and young adults to be responsible and disciplined. It makes them understand the responsibility of having another living creature depend on them for its needs and direction. Once the rider has learnt to ride more independently it also encourages them to take control and make well considered decisions for their partner; the pony/horse. Young riders can also benefit from having other riders around them and become involved with the social activities. They can tell their horse/pony whatever is on their mind and alleviate stress.
Empathy, feel and understanding. As they improve riders learn to feel certain things about the way a horse is going. For example; is it tense? is it excited? what work does it find hard and what does it find easy? They will also have to learn to empathise with the horse and understand what it needs in these situations. They will also bond with horses and begin to care for them.
Improvement of physical/mental condition. Horse riding can be used as therapy, to build confidence and mentally stimulate those with disabilities. At Contessa we work with the RDA (Riding for Disabled Association). Horse riding has been shown to benefit people with long term illnesses and/or disabilities, improving their physical condition and/or mental state.
Strength and cardio-vascular fitness. Riding requires strength. Particularly important is core strength which is needed for good balance. At the faster paces it makes the heart and lungs work harder. Riding quickens reflexes, increases joint mobility, boosts the cardiovascular system, improves blood circulation, stimulates sensory integration and improves the visual perception of space.
Flexibility. A good riding position will stretch and strengthen certain muscles. For example; moving with the horse will make the lower back more flexible, bringing the heels down will stretch the muscles along the back of the leg preventing muscle cramps.
Co-ordination. Horse riding requires a lot of multitasking which builds on coordination. This is learnt through the feel of riding, and having body awareness of your own and your horse’s body.
It’s also one of the few sports where you have to share. You have to listen to another living creature, interpret its body language and movements, and be respectful but authoritative. When you make that connection with such a powerful animal it is an amazing feeling. When you really get to know a horse you develop a strong bond and friendship the same way you would with any treasured pet.