Study Confirms Horseback Riding has Human Health Benefits

British Horse Society-commissioned research confirmed that horseback riding regularly is good for human health

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Research commissioned by the British Horse Society (BHS) has proved that regular participation in horse riding is good for human health.

The research, carried out by the University of Brighton in partnership with Plumpton College in East Sussex, U.K., looked into the health and well-being benefits of horse-based sport and leisure. The findings indicated that horse riding and activities associated with horse riding (such as mucking out stalls) expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate intensity exercise–the level of activity recommended by the British Government/National Health Service that when achieved for 150 minutes per week will help to keep a person healthy.

Other key findings include:

  • Evidence shows that regular periods of trot work in a riding session may enhance the energy expended and the associated health benefits;
  • Horse riding is especially well-placed to encourage physical activity among women of all ages. Evidence indicates that the vast majority of riders are female, and more than a third (37%) of riders who took part in the survey were above 45 years of age;
  • The study found that horse riding stimulates mainly positive psychological feelings; and
  • Horse riders are strongly motivated to take part in riding by the sense of well-being they gain from interacting with horses. This important positive psychological interaction with an animal occurs in a very few sports.

Mark Weston, BHS director of access, safety, and welfare, said, "While there was anecdotal evidence available on the physical and psychological well-being and health benefits of horse-based sport and leisure, there was a lack of empirical evidence to support, or challenge, these claims. The results of the survey will provide this empirical evidence

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