Horseback riding

A thousand facets

Horse riding is a sport apart, as it unites two entities: a man and a horse, the rider and his animal. One cannot exist without the other, and vice versa. This discipline requires perfect knowledge of the horse and a deep respect for him: riding does not only mean doing sports but also means teaming up with the animal. All this gives horse riding a particular dimension.

Horse riding consists of many disciplines, including dressage (or training), bouts, equestrian endurance, vaulting, show jumping, horse-ball, polo ...

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It is a sport that can be conceived as a real discipline, following training at the stables and participating in competitions, but also as an occasional pastime to take walks or small excursions ...

A physical well-being

Contrary to popular belief, horse riding is not the horse that does it all! Riding requires considerable muscular effort in the back and abdominals, especially when sitting on the saddle (step, gallop, sitting trot), and also strengthens the muscles of the legs (thigh, calf) and buttocks when running at a trot. In traditional horse riding, and especially in dressage, particular attention is paid to the posture of the back and shoulders, and thus takes the habit of adopting a correct position of the torso.

Energy expenditure is quite variable. On country walks you burn few calories because physical effort is not very significant, while if you do an obstacle course or a dressage exercise, muscle work intensifies and you can burn between 350 and 600 kcal per hour!

Acrobatic discipline, horse riding develops a sense of balance and improves motor coordination. If practiced regularly and for a certain period of time it also allows you to strengthen the muscles of the heart and improve breathing capacity.

Of the psychological virtues

Riding is not only good for the body but also for the spirit! First of all, horse riding teaches us to overcome fears, to remain calm in the face of problems, to gain self-esteem. The horse can be unpredictable, so you have to learn to face any situation with a lot of coolness.

This discipline requires solid qualities including rigor, perseverance, the ability to concentrate and love for difficulties. Taking place outdoors and in contact with natural elements, it is one of the sports that best guarantees relaxation and escape.

Some precautions to take

Horseback riding is not like taking a walk, it is an activity that involves risks that should not be underestimated. Here are some tips:

- Take courses. You cannot improvise jockeys, there are professionals who can teach you the correct positions, the right gestures, the good habits for riding without taking risks.

- Warm up. Do some movement, jump and stretch your muscles before getting on the back of your steed!

- If you suffer from low back pain or spinal malformations, if you are pregnant or allergic to animal hair, if you suffer from osteoporosis, avoid horse riding.

- Get a booster of vaccines, especially tetanus drugs.

- Put on a helmet, it's essential!

For information: Italian Federation of Equestrian Sports www.fise.it

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