Get active: Horse riding

Horse riding beats running, gym-ing, swimming and any other -ing when it comes to wellbeing

 

Explain it to me: First things first – I am a horse lover and have been since I was three. I’m now 34. For me, horse riding beats running, gym-ing, swimming and any other -ing when it comes to wellbeing. With the disclaimer out of the way, here’s why you should find your mount now, regardless of your age. In fact, that’s a key factor – age. Horse riding is age-neutral. Whether you learn as a child or an adult, there is a discipline that will give you a sense of achievement – from hacking on a beach to perfecting flatwork movements in an arena or tackling a round of jumps. Add to that fresh air, strengthening core muscles and the need to concentrate on the job at hand (if your mind wanders, your horse will wander) and you are on to a winner . . . and we haven’t even hit the racetrack.

Where do I start: Find a certified riding instructor at an AIRE-certified yard (aire.ie) and book a lesson.

Costs: Owning a horse isn’t cheap but you don’t need to become an owner just yet. Lessons start from about €30 per hour for a group lesson. As a beginner, start with a group or a semi-private lesson with someone at your level. Most yards will provide an approved riding hat, which you should always wear. Wear long trousers (think slim-fit activewear pants), gloves and boots with a small heel. Second-hand equipment is plentiful online.

Top tips: Even if you decide getting on board is a leap (or vault) too far, learn to “be” with horses. Request a private horsemanship lesson to learn how to act safely on the ground handling horses. We are a country of horsemanship. Get in on the feeling.

Safety is paramount, especially as a beginner. Always wear a helmet and suitable footwear when you are handling horses.