Unique Training Buddies – How to Keep Fit with Your Horse

The Australian National Health Survey of 2015 reported that over 63.4% of the adults in Australia were overweight. We need exercise to get in shape, but sometimes you just don’t want to go to the gym, and finding a dedicated training partner can be hard. In comparison, horses are the epitome of fitness, with their lean bodies and proud muscular frames. So, why not train with your horse?

The American Horse Council estimates that there are 221,000 horses in Australia. There are enough to go around. The good thing about training with a horse is that the animals are built for greater physical exertion than human beings can handle. Horses can do 20 miles at between 15 and 20 mph, without rest. Here are ideas on how to keep fit with your horse.

Photo by David Dibert

Jogging

Walking your horse is a good way to warm him or her up for runs which is both fun and also fosters natural bonding between you. However, jogging with your horse is also useful when you want to challenge your limits and endurance.  If your typical run is 3 kilometres, jog for four or five when you’re with your horse. That is because the horse will carry you back home if you get too exhausted. For adventure, you can jog for short distances with the horse as you backpack along a hiking trail in a wild and scenic location such as the Gold Rush Trail in South Australia or in the Victoria Country Trails.

Swimming

Horses are good swimmers because their body structure makes it easy for them to stay afloat. However, according to Equus Magazine, swimming with horses should only be done in pools that allow it and in natural water bodies where safety can be observed.  The horse can drown if it is overwhelmed, especially in fast moving rivers. The horse should be leashed when swimming, regardless of the apparent safety of the swimming pool or water body. It should be noted that if you choose to go swimming with your horse you have to know how to swim. The horse will not save you if you drop into the water and cannot swim to safety itself. Horses get dehydrated fast when engaged in intense physical activity. If you’re swimming in the salty waters of the Indian Ocean or a swimming pool, do not keep your horse in the water for too long without letting him or her drink water.

by Jenny Holt