Many horse riders will tell you about this feeling of "freedom" that you gain from the top of a horse's back.
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There must be hundreds of reasons why people enjoy horses and horseback riding. Here are a few experiences you will be privy to once you step into that stirrup for the first time:
14. Really, truly "interact" with the great outdoors. Feel the air, smell the foliage, see nature's beauty, AND get to travel through it all with your favourite four-legged friend.
13. Develop your sense of body awareness. Can you feel your arms/legs/core/SEAT in any other endeavor the way you can when you're on a horse's back? There is no other situation quite like being on a 1000-pound animal progressing through space and time, while you are considering what your various appendages are doing. THEN there is the rider's "seat" to keep in line...!
12. Become fitter and more athletic. It will happen organically and by necessity. There is no way around it - ride regularly, and you will find your body becoming more agile, able and yes, even fitter. Ride several times a week and discover all the glamorous physical by-products!
11. Discover "balance" in more ways than one. Of course your sense of balance will develop while you struggle with the power of gravity five feet above the ground. However, you will also discover the other balance truths - such as balance in feeding versus not (!), rest versus activity, shelter versus the great outdoors, and following versus resisting.
10. Develop new "nerve endings". Regular riding will begin to point out to you areas in your body that you might not have been particularly aware of before. Feel your fingers develop an alertness that will allow you to distinguish between "give" and "release" - even while you keep your fists closed.
Discover the nuances between lower legs that "wrap" around the horse versus the legs that grip and clench. Most incredibly, wait for the day that your seat can essentially communicate your very thoughts - with minimal use of the hands and legs - to your majestic beauty as he glides over the ground beneath you.
9. Be a witness to physical "power" like never before. The movement of a horse can at times be exhilarating, or at times downright nerve-wrecking, but the power cannot be contested!
8. Enjoy graceful connection with a horse. There is simply no other feeling like it. A horse is not the same as a dog, cat, or other domesticated animal. Try it one day - you'll understand what I mean.
7. Have something to talk about that most people don't relate to! Unfortunately, you will notice that most people in your life will "turn off" within the first five minutes of your description of that fantastic new feeling you discovered the other day while riding. Accept this as a normal side-effect and enjoy the few who relate to your descriptions even if they have never experienced it themselves.
6. Find parts of your character that needed to be improved. Invariably, you will discover characteristic traits in yourself that you never knew existed. Then, you will realize all the reasons why you must develop these qualities and continue your self-development toward becoming a better human being.
5. Opportunities to go places you wouldn't go otherwise, and meet people you would never have met. These days, horses and horseback riding can lead you far and wide and connect you to people from all over. Make new friends, travel to distant locations, and enjoy the most beautiful spaces on earth simply because you follow horses to new and unknown places.
4. Make new friends who share your passion. The love for horses spans across countries, personalities and cultures. Other people who are passionate about horses can be found almost anywhere you go - and the bond that connects is universal.
3. Move your body in a way that promotes health and well-being. From grooming and tacking, to walking around in the fields, to the physical movements your body "receives" while riding - these are all specific to the sport and otherwise not always accessible.
2. Learn important life "truths" for your equine friend. Listen to horses to find out all about relationships, leadership, social skills, communication. This list is endless and if you can "hear" clearly enough, you will find many facts that transcend from the equine to the human.
1. Borrow a sense of freedom otherwise not available to mere humans. Many horse riders will tell you about this feeling of "freedom" that you gain from the top of a horse's back. Challenges, whether physical, mental, emotional or social are almost literally dropped to the ground the moment your seat is placed into the saddle that graces that horse's back. There is nothing else like it in this world.
Why do you love horseback riding?
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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Other posts you might enjoy:
Speaking “Horse” (a.k.a. Pushing the Envelope): You must learn how to understand the language of the horse.
Ask 25 Horse People One Question…: … and get 25 different answers! What to do with all those opinions.
To Lesson or Not To Lesson? That isn’t even a question!
On Enjoying the Path: You have to enjoy the “work” in riding and not just the “fun”!