Horseback Riding: Good for Your Health?

1 Oct


I think It’s safe to say that most of us realize that riding a horse can be a risky sport. They are large animals and can pack a powerful blow. Plus, we are all familiar with what happened to Christopher Reeves (Superman).

I’ve been horseback riding several times in my life and I have my own terrifying experience to tell. Fortunately, I kept my head about me. Looking back, it all seemed like reflex reaction because I didn’t have time to think.

I was on a date with some of my date’s friends. We decided to go horseback riding at a public park. I don’t recall what park but this was when I was living in New York.

My horse kept lagging behind. The guide kept telling me to kick my horse. I was doing the best I could with those instructions but my horse didn’t seem to care. He was unresponsive. He seemed tired or sick. He wanted to go back to the stalls.  The group had to wait periodically for my horse and me to catch up.

Apparently, one of the  “friends” in our little group was getting tired of my horse lagging behind.This friend positioned his horse behind mine and I just assumed he thought that would help my horse move along. I had no idea he was going to crack my horse on the rear, scaring it half to death not to mention me, leading to the following events.

My horse reared,

Rearing horse

you know, like in the movie Zorro where the horse stands up on its hind legs clawing the air with its front hooves? I was still sitting upright but now my horse’s neck was up against my chest! Call it reflex or call it instinct but it caused me to grab on to his mane. Then, off we were like a shot!

We galloped like the wind as the saying goes and now I was facing down on the horse’s neck, just like a jockey in the Kentucky Derby! I worried that the horse would think I was egging him on in this position but I didn’t know what else to do. I was holding on to this horse for dear life! It could have been an exhilarating experience if the horse stayed on the trail. However, he decided to go down a slope  heading for the trees. In my mind, I can still feel the tree leaves and branches whistling past the top of my head, sometimes hitting their mark. Eventually, he slowly came to a stop. I had been saying, “whoa, whoa,” the whole time. I never pulled on the reins to stop him. Maybe in my subconscious I was remembering what my mother told me about my grandfather’s horse.

They say if you fall off a horse, you should get back on right away. (Probably because if you don’t, you never will again out of fear.) Well, I wasn’t thrown and I didn’t fall off. The trail guide didn’t ask me if I was ok. Clearly, I wasn’t. I was shaking. So, I was still on this horse and we continued lagging behind everyone else until the guide took us back to the stalls when the ride was completed! Truthfully, I don’t remember any more than that. I was probably angry but I was too exhausted for an argument. I didn’t get on another horse until 25 years later, and that experience was much better, with a mare that I really liked.

I have always had a love of horses. When my parents would ask me what I wanted for Christmas when I was a kid, I’d always say, “A pony!” My mother would say, “Where would we put it?” I had a ready answer, “In a stable.” I had no idea about stable costs, or the upkeep of a horse, or even the illnesses that afflicted horses. I didn’t learn those things until I was in my 40’s when I subscribed to a horse magazine. That subscription really opened my eyes.

So, thereafter I was happy to admire them from afar. I watched horse races on TV. I visited The Kentucky Horse Park. It’s a lovely place with a beautiful statue of Secretariat, my favorite race horse. I’m also a fan of dressage and horse jumping.

Kentucky Derby with friends

I went to the Kentucky Derby twice.

I went to the Belmont Race Track many years ago when I lived in New York.                     

And I’ve been to other smaller horse tracks to watch the races.

I went to a rodeo in Indiana. I think the event was held at Market Square Arena which has been imploded since then. 

Rodeo in Indiana

Rodeo in Indiana


I had planned to go to a dude ranch where you could work and vacation but my job interfered with those plans and I missed that opportunity.

So, it was a natural step for me to introduce my son to horses. In this photo, you can see that he had no fear. He looks like a natural if you ask me but unfortunately my love for horses didn’t transfer over to him, at least not that I know of. However, he is into many other sports and at one time had been a personal trainer at the local YMCA. Those of you who follow my blog shouldn’t be too surprised at that! My adventure with horses isn’t over yet. I can feel it in my bones! (Which are still intact and I intend for them to stay that way.)

Me and my son at a friend’s home



37 Responses to “Horseback Riding: Good for Your Health?”

  1. Holistic Wayfarer April 7, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    Wow. So interesting. You couldn’t pay me to get on one…bc of Chris Reeves. He couldn’t even breathe without his machine. A very enjoyable narrative.


  2. tchistorygal June 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    You are almost writing my experience on a horse when we went to Hawaii last October. We didn’t gallot, but we did go off path a bit, and I was terrified, and in a lot of pain. She was much too wide for me, and I thought I was going to die. By the time I got off, the stable guy had to actually pull my leg over her, and help me down. I had tears streaming down my face, and I had to hold on to the horse for a little while to get my bearings. Once I did, I was fine. I held my breath for you the whole time! 🙂


    • Marcella Rousseau June 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      Yes, I rode a mare that was too wide for me too. Nobody ever talks about that do they? I could barely dismount her and had a hard time walking after that! I’m sorry to hear you had so much pain! Like anything else, when you don’t grow up around it, you’re not familiar with the pros and cons. I was lucky with my experience. It could have ended up much worse! And for you too!


      • tchistorygal June 30, 2013 at 12:23 am #

        I was fine as soon as I got off and stood for a minute. I was dizzy at first from the pain. I was never even sore the next day, so I really don’t know what happened. I’m willing to try it again, but not on a steep hill! 🙂 Marsha 🙂


        • Marcella Rousseau July 1, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

          Are you sure you were dizzy from the pain? If you were rattled it might have sent your blood pressure through the roof and that could make you dizzy.


          • tchistorygal July 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

            I don’t have high blood pressure – low normal. so I don’t think that was it. I wasn’t rattled, just miserable. But one of these days I’m going to try it again and see if I can’t overcome it! 🙂


  3. reocochran November 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    Great photos and a unique story that is memorable. This post really came full circle to where you helped your son to have a good experience. You look like a beautiful mother!


    • Marcella Rousseau November 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Thank you. : – ) I introduced my son to a lot of sports (I was mother and father to him.) He was good in all of them. He became a personal trainer at the local YMCA.


  4. soulofspice November 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    I love horseback riding too & the way you described your horse taking off! I’ve actually fallen off large horses & had to sit right back on them to finish the canter 🙂
    thanks for checking out my post on chapati & liking it.. I just followed you! charu


    • Marcella Rousseau November 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Charu, : – ) Thank you. I find horses irresistible. They seem to be a special attraction for women. Horse spills seem to come with the territory. It sounds like you weren’t seriously hurt since you were able to get back on right away. I bet you’re great on a horse and I wish I could see that! I am following you too!


  5. I am deathly afraid of horses (for good reasons) and that would have freaked me out completely but then again my fear of horses would not have let me get on the horse in the first place. Beautiful animals and I too have been at Belmont as a little girl but I’ll just admire the horses from a safe distance.


    • Marcella Rousseau October 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      I’m sure you have a good reason. They are definitely unpredictable and some spook easier than others. We owe a lot to them because they helped us build this country. They were our transportation across the country, they helped us plow fields so we could eat, and various other reasons. : – )


  6. tbnranch October 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Awww, a great story. Enjoyed!


    • Marcella Rousseau October 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      Thanks! ; – )


  7. Hot Rod Cowgirl October 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    I know that horses and being in the saddle or on their back is amazingly good for our physical health and our mental health and our emotional health…..:)


    • Marcella Rousseau October 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Yes, I think I read that there is a program that pairs autistic children with horses to the benefit of the children. As I was on my way to my new health club, I passed property where there were 4 horses! This is only 3 blocks from my house. I never drove in that direction before so I didn’t know they were there. There used to be boarding stables across the street from my subdivision, but unfortunately, they moved out. I don’t know why. My house is on the edge of a big city, but also on the edge of the country. It’s really nice to have both so close ; – )


      • Hot Rod Cowgirl October 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

        Yes and amen:) It is nice to have the shopping when you need it but then you can go home and have country peace and quiet:)


  8. silverbells2012 October 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I’ve been horseriding twice and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, it is very expensive even just to go for a ride at a school here, so I don’t know when I will next get a go on horseback. I was surprised, though, that it wasn’t as difficult to ride a horse as I had imagined it would be. (Well, the most we did was a trot under supervision.)
    How mean of that person to do that to your horse – not to mention irresponsible!


    • Marcella Rousseau October 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      I’m glad you had a good experience. You’re better off at a school than at a park. The horses are probably treated a lot better. At a park, they have to deal with idiots like the one who smacked my horse. This was a very powerful guy too. I felt sorry for his wife. You should hear the story about their wedding which I went to! OMG! It’s people like him who give New Yorkers a bad name.


      • silverbells2012 October 6, 2012 at 10:25 am #

        I didn’t know New Yorkers had a bad name!


        • Marcella Rousseau October 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

          LOL! You’re pulling my leg right? Sure! We’re ALL rude, arrogant, and whatever else people dream up. It was really brought home to me (again) on 9/11 when I was at work here in Indianapolis. I’m glad I had the opportunity to speak to my cousin in Georgia over the phone and the option to go home, which I did. When I got home I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my son and then with my parents in NY. I didn’t want to spend that day with people who didn’t understand how I felt.


          • silverbells2012 October 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

            Well, I’m sorry that you were in that position but honestly I don’t think people in the UK have a negative image of New Yorkers. On the other hand, they tend to have a negative image of Londoners, which in my experience is unfounded.


            • Marcella Rousseau October 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

              I agree. Europe is different. I wouldn’t include Europeans in my comment. I was thinking of Americans only. I think Europeans tend to lump all Americans together. (No offense intended.) Just like Americans would lump people in the UK together or the French, or the Italians, etc. I don’t think you can expect a non-citizen to know the differences between the regions of a country unless they’ve lived there for a few years or studied the country. The only negative comment I’ve heard from Europeans about Americans is that we don’t know our geography. And they’ve got us on that one! We don’t! It’s too bad that people stereotype the way they do, but in my experience, there’s a kernel of truth in the stereotyping.

              So, are you saying that New Yorkers have a negative opinion of Londoners? I haven’t seen that. Speaking for all Americans, we IDOLIZE and embrace whenever an Englishman steps foot on American soil. Your musicians: Sting, The Beatles, (Paul McCartney still), The Rolling Stones, Adele, etc. Your playwrights: Shakespeare, (Do you have any idea how many renditions of his plays are run in this country? Lots!) Your actors: The Redgrave sisters, Helen Mirren, Michael Caine, Jude Law, the list is endless! Your comedies: Keeping Up Appearances, Monty Python, Benny Hill, and my personal favorite: One Foot In The Grave. Some of the best stuff on TV is from the BBC & PBS. Don’t even get me started with Lady Di. And this is just off the top of my head! When we get the opportunity to meet a visitor from the UK at work or socially, we’re enthralled; especially with your accent which we love!

              I’d say relations between the UK and the US are pretty tight from my point of view! Tell me how you see it.


              • silverbells2012 October 7, 2012 at 4:43 am #

                No, I didn’t mean New Yorkers have a negative opinion of Londoners! I meant English people who live outside London – but not all of them! I love London but if you want rude I am sure there is somewhere you could go 😉


              • silverbells2012 October 7, 2012 at 4:46 am #

                You ask me about impressions Brits have of Americans! That’s tough to answer as it involves invoking what I think are stereotypes of people’s opinions. For myself, I can’t say I’ve ever met an American I’ve not liked but then I’ve only met Americans outside the States…


  9. Staci Troilo October 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    I have a similar story of a horse galloping away with me on its back. It galloped right into the middle of a pond a proceeded to drink for about ten minutes. Even the experts at the equestrian center where we were riding couldn’t get him out. I just had to sit there on his back until he had drunk his fill. Horses are beautiful creatures, but they do have minds of their own. I haven’t been on one since. I just admire them from afar now.


    • Marcella Rousseau October 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      It sounds like your horse may have been dehydrated! Was that your first time riding?



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