Now in the second year of a global pandemic, many of us are looking for healthy ways to cope with stress and grief—myself included. And while I am no medical professional, I can tell you that our horses here at Almost Heaven Vanners provide health benefits that no therapist or physician could quantify.
Thoughts on the Benefits of Horseback Riding from a WV Equine Lawyer and Horsewoman
Being a lawyer, even an equine lawyer, is a stressful and sedentary job that tends to wreak havoc on the body. But working with our horses always lifts my mood and alleviates stress. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the joy I feel in working with and watching our babies grow and learn. Or maybe it’s the exercise I get from slinging water buckets, 50-pound sacks of grain, and cleaning stalls. (Did you know horses produce, on average, 50 pounds of waste PER DAY?! That’s a lot of shoveling . . . I mean, heart-healthy “exercise.”)
The Health Benefits of Horseback Riding, and Grooming, and Wrangling . . .
In addition to the benefits of “horse-keeping,” horseback riding has to be one of the most complete forms of exercise I know. First, there’s getting ready for the ride: catching horses, grooming, loading tack, loading horses, loading people. By the time I get ready to haul out, I am usually worn out (and already dirty!).
Then, there’s the riding itself: just a few hours in the saddle works your arms, trunk, glutes, and legs. And, depending on how fast you ride (or how spooky your horse is), horseback riding can also raise your heart rate. Finally, after your ride, you have to unload, wash horses, and unpack. A full day of trail riding usually leaves me exhausted, dusty, sweaty, and happy.
The Benefits of Equine Therapy
The history of equine therapy dates back farther than many people might expect. The benefits of riding horses were noted by Hippocrates as early as 460 BC, and therapeutic practices with horses began to expand in the US, Europe, and Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, equine therapy is used in mental health treatment and for physical and occupational therapy.
There is a reason horses are used in therapy with disabled individuals. Check out the awe-inspiring work being done at some equine therapy facilities in north-central West Virginia (WV) and southern Pennsylvania (PA), such as On Eagles Wings Therapeutic Horsemanship in Fairmont, WV or Stoneybrook Foundation Therapeutic Riding Center in Southwestern PA.
See Your Doctor for Health Matters and Your WV Equine Lawyer for Horse Legal Matters
In short, I know that horses are good medicine. They never fail to lift my mood after a long day at my desk or in court. My insights into medical matters end there, but if you need assistance with legal concerns related to horses, my experience and knowledge in that area are much more extensive. Along with the rest of the Jenkins Fenstermaker equine legal team in Clarksburg, WV, I’d love to assist you and hope you will reach out.
As the pandemic (hopefully) releases its grip on our lives, remember that horseback riding is one of those things that is naturally socially distanced. So, if you are feeling the need for a mood boost or just some physical activity, saddle up your horse and hit the trails.
If you don’t have a horse of your own, consider taking riding lessons at a local stable. In my book, a good riding lesson and the benefits of horseback riding beat a gym session any day of the week. Or, feel free to stop by our farm and I will give you a shovel and let you work out “for free.” Good mood guaranteed.