The health benefits of owning a pet have long been recognised. From the physical exercise gained through taking a dog for regular walks, the stress relieving motions of stroking a cat, right through to the calming meditative qualities of watching fish there is some form of benefit no matter what the animal.
Horses in particular have been proven to have a natural affinity with humans and studies continue into the relationships we can build with these beautiful animals. With this in mind, we are going to look at some of the ways in which owning a horse can add benefit to your life that perhaps other pets may not.
Riding a horse is of course going to improve your fitness. From improved core strength through having to hold yourself correctly in the saddle, not to mention all that squeezing you have to do with your thigh muscles and buttocks, horse riding will definitely give you a butt to match that of Nicky Minaj. But aside from riding your horse, owning one carries many other opportunities for physical exercise. You will need to care for your horse on a daily basis, which involves walking to the stables, mucking out, wheelbarrowing muck and hay across the yard, raking hay, grooming, lugging big heavy sacks of horse feed from Spillers, and you thought horse riding was all about the lower body workout! Owning a horse is guaranteed to give you an all over body workout like no other and is a great way to improve on muscle tone and flexibility without even really realising it.
The stress relief that comes from owning a pet is second to none and this is no different when it comes to owning a horse. However, a horse being the size it is, simply means there is more to stroke, more to cuddle and more to look after and that reaps way more feel good benefits. Not only does it develop confidence and self esteem, but spending time with a horse also raises levels of the mood enhancing hormone serotonin. If you’re someone who is naturally shy, quiet, needs time alone then spending time down at the stables with your horse can be exactly what you need – think of it as your very own agony aunt if you like. Developing a strong relationship with your horse will build trust between the two of you, you will come to depend on each other and this is incredibly empowering for you both. There are also many equine assisted therapy groups which have been set up that offer people companionship with horses. Horses are fantastic animals for use in psychotherapy as they are capable of mirroring and responding to human behaviour. They can also hear the human heartbeat within four feet and so recognise when someone is in distress. And then of course there is the fact that you will be spending a lot of time outdoors surrounded by nature, which as we all know is amazing for your mental wellbeing.
All pets require commitment from their owners. They rely on you to feed them, clean them, keep them safe, exercise them, keep them company, and to take them to the vet if they are unwell. But a horse ramps those responsibility levels up a whole other notch. Unlike other pets, horses will not (I presume) live in your house and so that means factoring in the extra time it takes to get to the stables and to care for it every day, sometimes even twice a day. And what about if you’re ill, or you can’t make it one day, or you go on holiday? It is your responsibility to find someone that can look after your horse if you are not around – not quite as easy as asking your neighbour to feed your rabbit right? However, taking on that responsibility will teach you the value of having a good routine, will develop your time management skills and will set good habits which will translate into the rest of your life as well.
Owning a horse opens up entire new friendship groups and it gives you the chance to meet like-minded people who share the same passion for their horses. Whether it’s people who share the same stables as you, people you may meet while out on a ride, or perhaps those you meet at competitions or events, being able to talk about what you love with people who love it just as much, feels great. And horsey people LOVE to talk in great detail about all things horse and it is likely you will form life-long friendships through these connections.
Teaches Good Sportsmanship
If you feel ready to start competing at events then owning a horse will bring out the competitive side to your nature. And while this may not necessarily be considered a good thing, it’s all about how you handle that competitiveness. Horse riding events and competitions are all about showing good sportsmanship and having respect for the other riders and this is a fantastic skill to learn. The dedication and passion that comes from training your horse will also help you out in other areas of your life as well as if you take part in any other sports. No one likes a sore loser and having the good grace to congratulate your fellow riders if they do better than you is an admirable quality to have.
These are just some of the benefits to owning a horse, we’d be here all day if we were to list them all. However, it is important to point out that owning a horse is a huge responsibility and is a decision that mustn’t be taken in haste. If you are thinking of buying a horse there any many things to consider so please take the time to research and seek expert advice before committing to anything.