How Many Calories Do You Burn Riding Horses 2024? Surprising Facts

Saddle up for a fitness adventure that combines the joy of equestrian life with physical benefits. “How Many Calories Do You Burn Riding Horses? Surprising Facts” trots through the calorie-burning potential of horseback riding.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Riding Horses?

Calories Burned Basics

Calories are the fuel your body burns to keep you moving, and every activity you do, from breathing to horseback riding, uses them.

The Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) measures the energy cost of physical activities. One MET is the rate of energy expenditure while at rest. When you ride, you generate a higher MET value, thus burning more calories.

Horseback Riding as Exercise

Horseback riding is an exhilarating exercise that engages your core muscles and improves posture. It’s not just a leisurely trail ride; you’re getting a solid workout! Horseback riding can burn between 200 and 500 calories per hour depending on the intensity.

For instance, if you weigh 180 pounds and engage in polo, a high-intensity riding form, you could burn up to 686 calories in an hour.

Factors Impacting Caloric Expenditure

Several factors affect how many calories you burn while horseback riding:

  • Your weight: Heavier individuals tend to burn more calories.
  • Riding intensity: A gentle walk is less intense than a brisk canter.
  • Duration of the ride: The longer you ride, the more calories you burn.
  • Age: Metabolic rate can decrease with age, affecting calorie burn.

Riding Styles and Energy Expenditure

A horse gallops across an open field, its powerful muscles rippling as it expends energy. The rider's posture reflects the various riding styles, showcasing the different calorie-burning techniques

Different Riding Disciplines

  • Walk: A leisurely ride at a walking pace is a low-intensity activity that keeps you engaged without significant exertion. Perfect for beginners or a relaxed day, it typically burns between 100 and 150 calories per hour.
  • Trot: Up the pace to a trot, and your energy expenditure jumps. You engage your core muscles to maintain balance and rhythm, leading to a burn of approximately 350 to 450 calories per hour.
  • Canter: Canter your way to even greater calorie burning; this faster, controlled pace can torch about 450 to 550 calories per hour.
  • Jumping: Including jumping into your riding regimen skyrockets the calories burned due to the explosive energy needed, often falling in the range of 550 to 700 calories per hour.
  • Dressage: Though it might appear controlled and composed, dressage requires incredible discipline and muscle engagement, burning a similar amount to jumping.
  • Show Jumping: An intense and dynamic discipline, show jumping challenges both rider and horse, reflecting in a high calorie burn in line with vigorous jumping activities.

Intensity Levels of Horseback Riding

  • Low-Intensity: In disciplines like trail riding at a walk, the MET value (a measure of energy cost) is around 2.5, perfect for a serene outing while still getting a workout.
  • Moderate-Intensity: Moving up to activities such as general riding or dressage, the MET value is around 4.0 to 5.5, offering a balanced middle ground for enthusiasts seeking moderate exercise.
  • High-Intensity: If your goal is to sweat, disciplines like polo, show jumping, or cross-country have MET values of 8.0 or higher. These exhilarating, high-intensity sessions can burn many calories, up to 700 per hour, depending on your weight and the specific activity.

Health Benefits and Safety in Riding

A person riding a horse, with a helmet on, in a lush green field, surrounded by trees and a clear blue sky

The Impact of Horseback Riding on Fitness

Fitness and Workout: When you saddle up, you sign up for a workout that engages multiple muscle groups. Regular horseback riding can improve your core strength, essential for balance and coordination. You’ll work your legs, thighs, glutes, and calves vigorously, which helps to build muscle mass and enhance flexibility.

Heart Rate and Calories: As for cardiovascular health, your heart rate elevates, especially during faster riding, making it an excellent form of aerobic exercise. Depending on the ride’s intensity, you can expect to burn calories akin to a moderate-intensity workout, aiding in weight loss and endurance building.

Strength and Flexibility: Your core is not the only thing getting stronger; you’re also increasing the strength of your lower body muscles. The constant adjustment to the horse’s movement promotes flexibility, further improving your riding skill and overall fitness.

Safety Equipment and Considerations

Helmets: When it comes to safety, wearing a helmet is non-negotiable. A well-fitting helmet can prevent serious head injuries and is essential regardless of your riding level.

Safety Gear List:

  • Helmet: Protects your head in case of falls.
  • Boots: Provide needed grip in stirrups.
  • Gloves: Guard your hands against blisters and offer better rein control.
  • Body protectors: Minimize injury to your torso upon impact.


Is horse riding good for weight loss?

Horse riding can be good for weight loss as it requires energy expenditure and engages various muscle groups.

Do you burn calories while riding a horse?

Yes, you do burn calories while riding a horse; on average, it’s about 250-400 calories per hour at a slow pace and more at a gallop.

Does riding a horse count as exercise?

Riding a horse definitely counts as exercise; it improves balance, strength, and cardiovascular health.

Does horse riding burn belly fat?

Horse riding can help burn belly fat as part of an overall fitness routine and a healthy diet, as it engages the core muscles.

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