Mental health and horse riding - Eclat Equestrian Online

Mental health and horse riding


Us equestrians all know winter can seem bleak, whether it’s a lack of daylight for riding or the constant bogs in fields that take a welly hostage every time you enter. It’s no secret that winter can be one of the hardest times of the year – especially with some people suffering from seasonal depression. The truth is, horse riding is incredibly good for your mental health, and can help bring a smile when you feel at your lowest.

Scientifically, riding a horse releases endorphins which are a feel-good hormone. Endorphins are released specifically when exercising and tend to give you that “buzz” after a good ride. Endorphins reduce stress and generally make you feel better. Emotionally, you become better at regulating your emotions as horses can sense how you feel and act on it. Have you ever noticed if you think your horse is likely to spook at something it becomes more wary of it and does spook? This is because of how sensitive horses are – they can pick up on your emotions so quickly and are a good teacher in terms of learning how to stay calm and pretend to be brave even if you’re a bit nervous. The longer you spend around horses the better you become at learning how to change your emotions to help them, which in turn will help bring you into a better mood.

Socially, horses are brilliant at getting you out the house and interacting with people. Sometimes the only conversations we have will be with people at our livery yard on a bad day, and a simple hello can go a long way. Going on a hack with friends can be a major serotonin boost, taking in the countryside with people you like can work wonders for your mood. Having your own horse forces you to leave the house every day no matter how rubbish you feel and helps get you into a routine which in effect helps your circadian rhythm – this is essentially your body clock – so by bedtime you will start to become sleepy and hopefully get a good night sleep.


Eclat HQ’s Top Tips:

  • Spend as much time at the yard as you can if you’re having a rubbish day, take care of your mental health before anything else!
  • Can’t ride? Don’t worry! Studies show mucking out gives the same energy output as moderate exercise, so you will still be subconsciously releasing those endorphins regardless of whether you’re in the saddle or not.
  • No pressure rides – not every ride has to be perfect, training is not linear! Your horse won’t mind if you don’t do some leg yielding or practice a grid, if you want to just walk round on the buckle that is perfectly okay too!
  • Remember winter doesn’t last forever…we are getting closer and closer to the end!


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