Have you always had the desire to ride but thought that you weighed too much and would either hurt the horse or you’d be too embarrassed? Riding horses is great exercise and there are horses that are capable of carrying quite a bit of weight? Also, all the care involved with horses can burn some major calories! There’s no need to watch horses from afar. Get involved and you can become the rider you have always dreamed you could be.
I started taking riding lessons fourteen years ago. Before this, I was diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. In addition to being more active with horses, I have not only lost 70 pounds but have also become fitter and have a completely normal blood sugar level. If you wait until you are “fit” enough or “slim” enough to ride, you will probably never get to ride and be missing out on a great way to get healthy.
If you are worried that you are too overweight to ride, go to an Arabian or Morgan horse show on the days that they do the western riding. Huge cowboys with all the heavy leather trappings on small but extremely sturdy horses flying around the arena will amaze you. These horses aren’t phased by the extra weight. Now look at the cowboys. They are sweating and working hard as well.
If you have a horse already, you will know what hard work it is to take care of them. If you are overweight, you have your own gym right there with your horse. If you have your horse at home, use yard chores and grooming in addition to exercising your horse to burn calories. If your horse is at a boarding stable, there are jobs around the yard that you could do to burn loads of calories and help out in the process. Then there’s actually getting on the horse. myfitnesspal.com is a free calorie tracking service that you can sign up for and track not only your calorie intake but how many calories you will burn daily. Enter your weight and height and other criteria, then go to your log and enter how long you rode your horse for that day. You will be amazed at the number of calories you have burned. For a 200 pound woman, an hour of riding can burn about 380 calories. An hour of mucking out the stables, clearing the muck from the fields, grooming and other stable chores can burn another 380. On an average day, you can burn around 700-1000 calories.
However, if you don’t own a horse, you can still find opportunities to be with them and gain fitness and lose weight. Go to Yahoo! or the yellow pages and look up riding schools in your area. Call or visit with them and be honest about what you would like to do. If you want to do a few lessons, let them know how much riding experience you have, if any, and ask if how much you weigh would be a concern. If any trainers or schools are rude to you, go to the next trainer. There are trainers out there that will be able to accommodate you and that will be a pleasure to ride with. If the school tells you that they don’t have horses that can accommodate your weight ask them if they can recommend someone. This is how I found my first trainer and she made my first lessons a pleasure.
If you would like to learn more about horses, volunteer your time at any public stables or horse shows. Contact your local riding clubs such as the British Horse Society or the Pony Club website for information on how to help out with their events. In addition, riding for the disabled centers are always looking for volunteers. If you can make friends at these events, then you will surely find someone willing to have a helping hand with their own horses, even if it’s just mucking out stables or manure clearing fields. It all burns calories and gets you to your ultimate goal of being in the saddle.