If you've ever climbed onto a horse at the end of a bad day, then you know how a long ride can turn that day right around. Horseback riding is known for being therapeutic, and there's no one who would agree with this statement more than riders themselves.
But horseback riding is more than emotionally healing. It's actually being used as a sort of physical therapy for disabled riders. The practice of equine-assisted therapy is growing, and people are benefiting from the incredible therapeutic value of the horse without ever stepping foot in the saddle. Horses are even being used to facilitate team building among business employees.
Still not convinced? Here are seven reasons why horseback riding is the best therapy.
There's no better way than to forget about a problem than to mount up and begin riding. Horseback riding requires your complete focus - if your mind wanders, then you'll soon find that your horse is wandering about, too.
Riding horses can give you a break from the worries of the outside world, and there's nothing more freeing than a trail ride.
When you ride, you have to be both physically and emotionally strong. Riding a horse requires intelligence and understanding, but it also requires you to stand up and take charge.
The strength that you develop through riding can be applied to other areas of your life, too.
There's no room in the saddle for fear or anger. As an equestrian, you will learn emotional control techniques which you can use in your overall life. Whether it's dealing with an overly energetic horse while trail riding or going back to the barn after a disappointing show, experienced riders learn understand how to control their emotions.
Sometimes in riding, you have to learn to sit back, take a breath, and try things over again. Learning to be patient can be therapeutic and this skill will benefit you in other areas, too.
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One of the best benefits of riding is that it teaches you to forgive both the horse and yourself. Nothing is perfect in riding, and you'll quickly learn how to forgive mistakes.
Riding teaches you to let the little things go, and to truly appreciate what is really important.
When you ride a horse, you're trusting your safety to a 1, 200-pound animal. At the same time, you're learning that the horse trusts you enough to let you climb onto his back.
The fact that such a magnificent, powerful animal trusts you is a rewarding realization.
There's no better feeling than nailing a jump, a canter departure, or a slow Western jog. When riding requires so much discipline, it also makes the rewards that much sweeter.
Riding leaves you feeling accomplished, and can be a wonderful confidence booster.
Before you head off to your next riding lesson, reflect on what riding is really teaching you and how therapeutic the act of riding can be. When you ride, the outside world slows down and fades away. Riding is the perfect way to step away from the world and to reflect on and improve your peace with yourself.
If you're new to riding, a stay at a guest ranch might be the perfect introduction to this sport. Many ranches offer day rides that introduce you to new aspects of horsemanship. A dude ranch or mountain ranch allows you to gain riding experience in a beautiful setting, and you'll navigate horse trails with trail conditions that are suitable to your experience level.
Have you, or someone you know, benefited from the therapeutic effects of riding? How has riding changed your life, and what are some of the major benefits that you've gotten from horseback riding?
How has horseback riding helped you heal? Tell us in the comments below.
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