Equestrian Blog

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How Fit Do Horses Actually Keep You?

Any one who looks after and/or rides horses will know that it is harder work than it looks, and can even make you break a sweat in the coldest of winters. But have you ever thought how many calories you actually burn during everyday horse chores and riding? An average horse owner or loaners night is pretty much taken up with yard work and riding. The following shows a guideline night and what you might burn off doing everyday yard work. Any calorie counts mentioned are approximate and based on you being about 10 stone 7 lbs, but can give you a general idea of how strenuous and hard work having horses can actually be! calorie counting
Getting to the Yard Even if you drive, this counts as calorie burning!!! Maybe not very many but still a few. When you drive, per half an hour behind the wheel you burn 68 calories. Most of us don’t live that far away from our horses but still, it’s something! If you bike it to the yard at a leisurely pace you can burn 204 calories per half an hour. This is great for your leg muscles which is fab for riding and also warms you up nicely on cold days. You’re even doing something for the planet by biking it, brill! You can use your horsey Hi Viz to make sure you're seen if it’s going dark, but get the proper bike lights as well. Doing the Hard Work When you arrive at the yard, the first thing you might do is muck out.
mucking out A skip out won't burn as many calories obviously, but a full muck out, lifting the whole bed and sweeping out, then laying a new bed can be quite strenuous. You have to put some major effort in and not stand about chatting, but for half an hour of proper strenuous mucking out you can burn 222 calories. For that you could have burned off a snickers bar. Which, if you’re like me, you may eat after mucking out to re-fuel. But still, at least you’ve burnt it off before eating it! Then you have to take your wheel barrow. Depending on how fast you walk, and how many barrows you have to take this could also burn off quite a few calories. Unless you’re so unlucky to have a muck heap a good mile and half away, most of us aren’t going to take half an hour to dump a barrow, but if you did, walking at 2.5 mph (which is slow and leisurely) you burn 102 calories. At 3 mph, moving your barrow you burn 136 calories per half hour and at 3.5mph you burn 153 calories per half hour.
Over a week you probably do spend over half an hour dumping muck (how scary is that!!) so if you make sure you do it with full effort and power walking, you might burn enough calories to count. If you have a few horses or work at a yard where you have to muck out several each day, this can actually really add up. The same counts apply for carrying hay nets and water, any load under 11.3 kilograms can burn the same calories as taking your barrow does.
After that, if your horse is turned out you can get some exercise catching him. Some horses ruin the calorie burning benefits of catching them by being good, coming when they’re called and standing there waiting to be caught. Others seem to realise that you chasing them around a field for half an hour might be good exercise and so try to make sure they give you a work out before you give them one. Walking on grass (or at this time of year on a muddy swamp like surface) is far harder than just a normal walk on a level and solid surface. catching
grooming If your horse has been turned out, he’s probably going to be muddy which means he needs a good groom. Even if he hasn’t been out or isn’t mucky, groom anyway as its good for your horse and good for you. If you give them a really good groom, with manes, tails, legs and feet included and a good vigorous curry combing, this can take a good while, and between this and getting the tack out and saddling up, you can burn the equivalent of 3 glasses of wine or a can of coke, which is 238 calories.
To burn that much though it does require a good hour's worth of work, which not everyone can manage time wise but still, at the weekends when you haven’t been at work or school all day this is possible and your horse will love it too! Riding Your's and your horse's fitness obviously impacts on the amount you can do during a riding session, but with further work you could get to a level of fitness where you can do the most calorie burning work outs daily. For an hour of just walking, provided it is a good walk and not just a plod, you burn 170 calories. Most horses of a decent level of fitness should be able to manage this easily, although they may break a slight sweat.
riding For the super fit and healthy horse and rider combination, you can try the ultimate calorie burning workout of non-stop trotting for an hour. This is super hard on both horse and rider though, so it may be better to cut it down to half an hour, and have a really good cool down and stretch at the end of the session. An hour's trotting burns 442 rider calories, so half an hour burns 221, both of which count as a really good work out.
For this you have burned the equivalent of 14.7 carrots, which is the amount your horse should be treated to for trotting for half an hour! Finishing Off After your horse is cooled off, rugged up if needed and fed, you burn your last horse related calories getting home. Assuming you’re going home the same way you got to the yard, you can burn the same calories off again. So, if you are doing all this for one horse, driving to the yard, doing a full half hour muck out, a half hour super good groom and riding a general work out for an hour, you burn off 793 calories which is enough for a medium McChicken Sandwich meal from McDonalds to reward yourself or a healthy lasagne meal, dessert and a small bottle of fizzy drink which doesn’t even amount to what you burned off so you’re still gaining benefits from your hard work! This calorie burn total is also assuming your horse is good to be caught, you only take ten minutes to do any lifting jobs such as dumping your barrow and haynets and you do plenty of trot in your ride. If you have to add any extras on, such as grooming for longer, cycling to the farm, taking half an hour to catch your horse and any other extra tasks mentioned, you can burn even more! So the next time people say that horse riding is easy and all you do is sit there, you can tell them straight how much hard work it really is! We recommend 'Horse And Rider Fitness' by Linda Purves for some great advice which is specific to riders to improve your fitness and get even more from your riding!  Another great resource is 'Pilates for Equestrians' by Liza Randall.

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