The health benefits of horse riding in the UK

Andrew Church, Becky Taylor, Neil Maxwell, Oliver Gibson, Rosie Twomey

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Key findings:

The physical health benefits of horse riding and associated activities:

1. Horse riding and activities associated with horse riding, such as
mucking out, expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate
intensity exercise.

2. Regular periods of trotting in a riding session may enhance the energy
expended and associated health benefits.

3. More than two thirds (68 percent) of questionnaire respondents
participate in horse riding and associated activities for 30 minutes or
more at least three times a week. Sport England estimate that such a
level of sporting activity will help an individual achieve or exceed the
government’s recommended minimum level of physical activity.

4. A range of evidence indicates the vast majority (90 percent plus) of
horse riders are female and more than a third (37 percent) of the female
riders who took part in the survey were above 45 years of age. Horse
riding is especially well placed to play a valuable role in initiatives to
encourage increased physical activity amongst women of all ages.

5. Amongst the horse riders who took part in the survey, 39 percent had
taken no other form of physical activity in the last four weeks. This
highlights the importance of riding to these people, who might otherwise
be sedentary.

6. Horse riders with a long-standing illness or disability who took part in
the survey are able to undertake horse riding and associated activities
at the same self-reported level of frequency and physical intensity as
those without such an illness or disability

The psychological and social benefits of horse riding:

1. Horse riding stimulates mainly positive psychological feelings.

2. Horse riders are strongly motivated to take part in riding by the sense
of well-being they gain from interacting with horses. This important
positive psychological interaction with an animal occurs in a very few

3. Being outdoors and in contact with nature is an important motivation
for the vast majority of horse riders.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyThe British Horse Society
Number of pages70
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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