Equine exercise is a great way to get both your mind and body active. A person of any age is a great candidate to start the ever-so-exciting horse riding experience, whether you’re 6 or 60, looking to do jumps or just ride trails.
Longtime rider and experienced champion Catherine Moorhead says horseback riding is physically and mentally engaging.
“(Riding) engages your core legs and arm muscles and has you constantly thinking on your feet,” Moorhead says.
What I love about horses is the history we, as humans, have with them. They live up to the tall tale of being kind-hearted like giant dogs, but we have gone to war with them under us, crossed countries with them carrying our wagons behind them, and have been on both sides of all historic tales. They’ve evolved with us and are now our companions in sport, derby or even simply trail riding. But nonetheless, they are still loyal.
Some children start riding and competing on horses as young as 4 or 5 years old, but it’s never too late to start! The technical skills you need to ride make one grow up quickly so, if anything, starting older might mean you have an advantage.
“What I love about (riding) is it’s difficult and unique and you’re constantly sweating,” Moorhead says. “It’s definitely a workout, but you don’t even realize you’re working out because you’re so focused.”
With there being a live animal involved, there is a constant variable of the unexpected at bay, which makes it all the more thrilling and fun than your average cardio.
Obviously, horses are a massive financial commitment, but there are different levels of it just like anything else! You can take lessons and not commit to anything, you can lease a horse which is essentially like renting, and if you genuinely love the sport, you can buy a horse. But you don’t have to decide anything at the start! There is plenty of time to choose your pony path. In and near Austin, we’re lucky to have plenty of places to choose from for riding.
Switch Willo Stables, a historic stable founded in 1963, has hundreds of horses for camps and newbies looking to take the plunge. Located in North Austin, the drive into the stables feels like you’re in a movie. The horses are well-kept, and Switch Willo is a great jumping point if you don’t know where to start and want to take a few private lessons or sign up for a summer camp. Many top-ranked riders started at Switch Willo, and they have an emphasis on the hunter/jumper discipline.
RED Arena is an organization specifically for the disabled, serving ages 2 and up. Everyone should be able to experience the way it feels to ride a horse, and RED makes sure nobody is left out of that equation. According to their website, each lesson is adaptable to each rider to enable their growth in independence. Located in Dripping Springs, RED has great horses and people ready to teach.
Located in Del Valle, Rio Vista Farm is another great spot to learn from scratch how to mount a horse or, if you’re not as new to the sport, how to get back into the game. They also offer private or group lessons to get you in tip-top riding shape. Rio is well-known for English skillsets, and they offer shows in-house for those new to the game looking to gain experience.
There is something about having a unique way to move your body that engages your mind and fulfills you like no other. You sleep better and feel more wholesome knowing you and a gorgeous creature had a wonderful day of exercise and enlightenment and, while you’re at it, you’ll make new friends in a new community. If you’ve ever ridden a horse on a vacation or briefly when you were young, you know how sore you wake up the next day. Like riding a bike, you move muscles you didn’t even realize you had, and the benefits of an equine exercise life are endless. If you’re looking at this for your child, you’re teaching responsibility, technique and detail skills they wouldn’t learn in any old sport or hobby. Riding horses truly builds character and a great physique of strength and endurance. There are lots of places in Austin, including these to name a few. I hope this fall you give horseback a chance!
About the Author
Katerina Cotroneo is a professional photographer turned lifestyle writer. Using her marketing background and her talent behind the camera, Katerina tells unique stories through her lens and captures diverse perspectives.