Can Horse Riding Help You Lose Weight? Here’s the Surprising Answer!

Our trusty steeds might just be the most amazing animals in the world.

Just being near these creatures in itself is therapeutic and one derives a sense of peace and tranquillity when riding them.

Mental benefits aside, have you ever wondered about all the physical benefits that these special creatures provide us with? More importantly, have you ever wondered if horse riding is a good exercise to lose weight?

Riding horses is a great way to lose weight and make yourself fit.

Let’s talk about what exactly makes horse riding so good for losing weight.

Does Horseback Riding Help in Weight Loss?

According to a recent study, horse riding has the potential to burn up to 7 calories in a minute, if done right. This is primarily due to the increased heart rate and the intensity with which our muscles work themselves during this activity

Ranging from the sequenced movements of dressage to the athletics of show jumping, there are a variety of horse riding styles. These disciplines require a sequential use of the muscles to balance the body and maneuver the horse. This strengthens the muscles while also burning the body’s calories.

If the strenuous and skill requiring activities of such disciplines seem too overwhelming, you need not worry. Even casually trotting on a calm and docile horse is known to burn up to 200 calories every hour!

The health benefits aren’t just limited to riding our steeds. The daily chores that we undertake to care for our beloved horses such as grooming, stacking hay, replacing fences, and cleaning water troughs, are all exercises of their own accord. In fact, these chores might end up burning more calories than the ride itself.

To learn more, you can read our article on how many calories you can burn while riding a horse.

What Muscle Groups Does Horseback Riding Work?

Horse riding tones our body while working both the upper and lower body muscles. The primary muscle groups that horse riding works are the core muscles: abs, back, pelvis, and thighs.

An isometric sport such as horse riding requires the rider to contract their core muscles in order to keep their balance on the horse. With a strengthened core, you can bid farewell to poor posture, back pain, and muscle injuries.

Furthermore, steering a horse is no child’s play. Whether it is to bring your mount’s head up or to maneuver it, pulling on reins requires serious upper body strength.

The shoulders and arm muscles provide this strength, and their utilization requires energy—which the body generates by burning excess fat. Consequently, your body loses weight.

Improving Your Chances of Losing Weight While Horse Riding

Let me make you privy to a rule of thumb: No amount of exercise, be it horse riding; cardio; or any other form of exercise, is enough (on its own) to help you shed those extra pounds.

So, here are a few suggestions that, if you follow, will ensure that you get a jaw-dropping physique with horse riding.

Eat Right

You can ride your steed all you want and for as long as you want, it won’t help you lose weight if your diet contains high-calorie foods. The opposite is true, as well.

You’re also unlikely to lose weight and remain healthy by severely limiting your food intake.

It is, thus, recommended to take smaller portions of meals throughout the day. Opt for foods that are rich in protein. The carbohydrate content, although less, should also be sufficient enough. This would provide you with the right amount of energy required for horse riding.

Make Changes to Riding Style

If you’re an avid equestrian, your body muscles are probably already conditioned to the type of riding that you do. Consequently, after a time these muscles would no longer be worked up when horse riding the same way they used to in the beginning.

It is, therefore, important that you step away from your regular riding style and try new riding techniques and practices.

Pre-Ride Workout

You should add a light workout to your routine before horse riding. Minimal exertion exercises such as crunches and push-ups should be enough to warm up your body and get your heart rate up.

Horse Grooming and Chores

Small tasks like cleaning the stable and grooming your horse might not seem important but they help in losing weight, as well. Any form of physical activity that makes you sweat will help you burn those extra calories.

Think you have eaten a lot? Well, all you need to do is brush your horse and take it out for a walk.

Weight Loss Requires a Lifestyle Change

Hard work and persistence can conquer anything. Great things happen to people who stick to these words of wisdom. In our case, an unhealthy routine is a hurdle that has an equestrian solution to it.

This solution requires hard work, but the real challenge arises in the second part of the statement—Persistence. You might have toned your body and become healthier, but you’ll have to continue the diet and the exercise to maintain a fit physique.

Luckily for us, horse riding, unlike other exercises, isn’t monotonous. With horse riding, every day offers a new experience. And the chance to bond with your beloved steed is so refreshing.

FAQs About Losing Weight with Horseback Riding

Now that we’ve established that horse riding is the perfect sport for losing weight, it is time to answer your questions.

Does horse riding tone your body?

The beauty of horse riding is that not only is it fun but it also helps tone your body, especially the core muscles of your legs. Since horse riding is a mixture of mental and physical exercise it is a great way to relax and unwind. It helps improve hand-eye coordination, as well.

Also, if you own a horse then there is more room for physical exercise as grooming your horse can help you burn some more of those stubborn fats.

What are the benefits of riding a horse?

Here are the benefits of riding a horse:

  • Improved hand-eye coordination
  • Better reflexes
  • Can build your core muscles and tone your body
  • Weight loss
  • Relaxation
  • Gives you some much-needed therapeutic alone time to relax and reflect on life
  • Communicating with horses in subtle reflexes and signs can improve understanding and problem-solving.

How many calories do 30 minutes of horse riding burn?

As a rule of thumb, when riding a horse at a slow pace for 30 minutes, you are likely to burn 200 calories. If you ride a horse at a faster pace, the burned calorie count can go up to 350.

However, everybody is different and is likely to shed fat differently. It is important to maintain a healthy diet along with exercise.

Relying solely on horse riding will not be enough if you plan to burn calories fast.

Does horse riding give you abs?

Horse riding can give you abs since they are one of the primary muscles that get toned through horseback riding. Other muscle groups include thighs, pelvic and abdominal muscles. With horseriding, you can improve stability in your torso and gain flexibility and balance.

However, it is important to know that horse riding helps tone your entire body. It is not likely to give you the same result as doing crunches or other ab-specific exercises that focus on a single muscle group.

Is horse riding a good workout?

Horse riding is an excellent workout. It not only provides muscular core strength but helps improve your hand-eye coordination, too. While you ride your horse, you not only get to connect with your buddy but also get to relax your mind.

If you want to have fun while exercise, this is one of the best options for you. As reported, you can burn a good amount of calories while building strong core muscles.


Acclaimed to be calming and confidence-boosting, horse riding can also help you lose weight and tone your muscles. Horseback riding will also help you develop a special strength known as stable strength. This would help you engage in demanding physical activities with ease.

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