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Benefits of Horseback Riding

Decreased spasticity

Spasticity is reduced by the rhythmic motion of the horse. The warmth of the horse may aid in relaxation, especially of the legs. Sitting astride a horse helps to break up extensor spasms of the lower limbs. Holding the reins helps to break flexor spasm patterns of the upper limbs.

Many of the developmental vaulting positions are  also designed to break up or reduce spastically. Fatigue also helps to decrease plasticity by producing relaxation.           

Increased range of motion of the joints.

As spasticity is reduced, range of motion increases. Range of motion is also improved by

the act of mounting and dismounting, tacking up, grooming, and exercises during lessons.

Reduction of abnormal movement patterns

If spasticity is reduced and range of motion increased, it follows that abnormal movements will be inhibited.

Improved respiration and circulation

Although riding is not normally considered a cardiovascular exercise, trotting and cantering do increase both respiration and circulation.

Improved appetite and digestion.

Like all forms of exercise, riding stimulates the appetite. The digestive tract is also stimulated, increasing the efficiency of digestion.

Sensory integration

Riding stimulates the tactile senses both through touch and environmental stimuli. The vestibular system is also stimulated by the movement of the horse, changes in direction and speed. The olfactory system responds to the many smells involved in a stable and ranch environment. Vision is used in control of the horse. The many sounds of a ranch help to involve the auditory system. All of these senses work together and are integrated in the act of riding. In addition, proprioceptors ( receptors that give information from our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints) are activated, resulting in improved proprioception.


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