Exercise Alternative – Horse Riding
Tired of the Gym? Lifeless on the Treadmill? Hate “exercise”?
Spice up your routine by trading in a boring treadmill for a thrilling horse!
‘But doesn’t the horse do all the work?’ Oh, no. Just try a couple of hours’ worth of riding lessons at Twin L Performance Horses, and your muscles themselves will answer the question for you. Follow up with a consistent schedule of horse riding, and it’s guaranteed that your abs, obliques, lower back and core will strengthen and tighten up.
I have trained athletes from a wide range of sports. Almost to a person they have all pulled me aside after a month or so of classes and told me how surprised they were. Why? Because the improvements in their balance coming from riding fed directly into their own sports, ranging from tennis to weightlifting. And if you’re not a competitive athlete but enjoy a hike or an evening out dancing, the same goes.
Accomplished equestrians move through the horse world with the grace of trained dancers. The muscle memory you gain while in the saddle will stay with you long after you’ve dismounted.
The benefits don’t stop there. Your experiences on horseback will hone your communication skills and demand a level of alertness that becomes second nature the longer you practice.
When you ride a horse, you communicate with your body as well as by speaking to the horse, sending and receiving signals to and from your partner every moment you are in the saddle. It’s essential to realize that your partner isn’t a human being who is fluent in your spoken language. The horse may or may not understand “let’s turn left now,” but when you turn your head to the left, the gorgeously sensitive animal you are riding will feel the subtle change in your posture and know that you are wanting to move in that direction. Know that you are communicating with your mount every moment you are in the saddle: this means that you have to be in control of your body and alert to what it is saying to the horse, and at first that’s difficult. But as you begin to master riding, you will realize that it’s as much about exercising the mind as it is about training the body. Those of you with yoga training will know exactly what I mean.
Wondering how to begin? Start small: exchange one or two hours a week on your stationary bike for horse riding lessons. This will translate into at least three hours of exercise, since you’ll also be tacking and untacking the horse.
Exercise and fitness do of course take commitment and discipline. No sport is fun 100% of the time. When you first learn to ride for sure there might be moments when you’ll feel overwhelmed. When you first climb into the saddle you’ll wonder how you are going to stay on as the horse begins to walk, much less run. Sooner than you imagine you’ll have the balance to trot, and, maybe best of all, to canter, the three-beat movement that, once mastered, will mean you’ve learned how to fly!
Keep at it, and you’ll not only get into shape, you’ll also make breakthrough after breakthrough. Before you know it you’ll be ready to compete in one of the many disciplines available to well-trained horse riders, or to set off on a trail ride confident that you can handle your horse in the open desert.
In the beginning, at Twin L Performance Horses you’ll be learning to ride in what’s called the English style. English saddles are lightweight and easy to lift onto the horse’s back. They enable the rider to feel everything that is going on with the horse they are astride. That balance I’ve been going on about? Riding in an English saddle demands that you have it, which is one of the reasons that owner Linda Leslie starts all beginners with English lessons. Once you can put the fundamentals of English riding into practice, you can make the transition to Western, if you like, or continue with both!
At Twin L Performance Horses you will be riding an Arabian or a half Arabian, the smartest and most beautiful of horses.
*These experiences have been noted from riders in lessons here at Twin L Performance Horses on our professionally trained lesson horses. We cannot speak to experiences of horse training or rider training at other facilities.