6 Surprising Health Benefits of Owning a Horse

Pets can give life meaning even on the dreariest of days. There is a reason why emotional support animals are so popular, or why we continue to find ways to help our furry family members live the best life they can.

While we provide love and care to them, they give us tenfold in return, not to mention an unbreakable bond. While most people consider cats and dogs the main staple of rewarding pet ownership, did you know that even animals like horses can offer incredible health benefits? You can even have a horse as an emotional support animal!

In this guide, learn some incredible health benefits that horse ownership or simply riding can provide.

Horses Are Natural Stress Relief

Similarly to other pets, horses can offer incredible stress relief. Bonding with animals has been proven to lower blood pressure and give our minds something to focus on outside of daily stresses. Peaceful rides on horses in calming environments can offer a meditative, soothing experience.

Providing care for animals also can release natural feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, our calming mood can help a horse in return, creating a natural calming effect for them as well. Even the physical activity required for riding a horse helps lower stress levels.

Horses Improve Cardiovascular Health

Horse riding, care, and handling require a decent amount of physical activity and labor daily. Physical activity like pulling on reins and steering your horse causes your heart rate to rise significantly, increasing heart health and longevity.

The more your heart gets used to pumping, the better it works, and this includes other organs such as your lungs. As your heart practices pumping faster, allowing it to work less to pump blood through your body. This reduces the risk of heart attacks.

You don’t even have to ride your horse to get these benefits. Even cleaning your horse’s barn, portable horse stalls, or other living areas can work up a good sweat; after all, cleaning is part of horse ownership as well! 

Horse Riding Secretly Strengthens Your Muscles

Riding a horse requires the use of many muscles, such as your core or stomach, thighs, shins, and more. Simply handling a horse requires strength and dexterity—horses aren’t exactly small. Using these muscle groups regularly keeps you strong and flexible, especially as you age, when flexibility and strength wane.

These muscles are incredibly important for standing up, walking, and more, which grow increasingly more difficult as we age without proper strength training. Horses can be nature’s gym equipment!

Working With Horses Provides Natural Mental Enrichment

Competing, riding, and training don’t just help your horse’s brain—they have a great effect on yours, too. Apart from the stress relief riding can bring, you’re also making tons of miniature decisions throughout your ride that help flex many different parts of the brain.

Training and competing require you to think on your feet, which can even help reduce memory issues later in life. Animals thrive on mental stimulation and enrichment, and humans are no exception. Training a horse works your brain just as much as your horse’s.

Nature’s Mood Boosters and Stabilizers

Bonding with an animal such as a horse for a long time offers many benefits, including mood stabilizers. Horses can live for decades, which is longer than the average lifespan of a dog or cat.

When you’re having a mediocre day, the release of feel-good hormones in your brain when you bond or ride your horse can help mellow out bad feelings and give you natural anti-depressant effects.

Winning competitions can provide serotonin and dopamine as well, giving you motivation to keep training and shaping your horse for success. You will age with your horse, strengthening your bond.

Horse Riding: An Easy Weight Loss Routine

Did you know that simply riding a horse can burn calories? Since riding a horse, even at a walking pace, requires the use of muscles and strength, especially when reining, your body uses up stored energy to do so.

The longer your ride, the more calories you burn. Competing in sports such as jumping with your horse can help you burn more calories even faster due to the constant need for cutting, reining, and other commands. Staying in shape helps you sleep better, live longer, and have more energy.

No matter what type of horse owner you are, it’s clear that the benefits of horses are aplenty, and they’re not even limited to this list! If you’re a mellow rider through scenic woods or a tough-trained competitor, there are many different ways horses can affect your mental and physical health.

You can even have a horse simply as an emotional support companion. If you’re not a horse owner, you may want to think about raising one yourself if it interests you.

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