How Many Calories Does Horseback Riding Burn? Amazing Facts Revealed!

Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Griselda M.

There is nothing better than spending time with your favorite horse in the great outdoors! But how many calories does horseback riding burn, and is it a good way to keep fit?

Does Horse Riding Burn Calories?

Many people might look at someone horseback riding and assume that the horse is the one doing all the work. After all, the rider is just sitting there, right?

In reality, horse riding is a fairly strenuous activity, as any rider will tell you! Just because the rider is not physically moving a great deal doesn’t mean that they are not working hard.

This is because when a person rides a horse, they need to stay balanced and move in time with the horse. this means that the rider is constantly using different muscles to adjust their position. Sometimes the rider will need to move their whole body, such as when posting or rising when the horse trots.

How Many Calories Are Burned Horse Riding?

does horse riding burn calories

When figuring out how many calories does horseback riding burn, it will depend very much on the type of riding you are doing. There is a huge difference between sitting on a horse that is walking along a trail, to cantering a horse over poles in an enclosed area.

The number of calories you burn during horseback riding will be affected by the pace of the horse, as well as the type of activity you are doing. Activities such as reining will give a short burst of intense exercise, while a long canter will give more extended cardiovascular exercise.

Don’t forget that horseback riding can also benefit your health in other ways! You get to enjoy being out in nature with your equine friend, which is very beneficial for mental health and well-being. If you own or care for a horse, then everyday tasks such as mucking out and carrying hay and water will also help to keep you in good shape.

Here are some examples of how many calories does horseback riding burns depending on the type of riding:

  • 1-hour riding at a walk = 272 calories
  • 1 hour of mucking out = 308 calories
  • 30 minutes of cantering = 260 calories
  • 15 minutes of rodeo sports = 125 calories
  • 20 minutes of jumping = 210 calories
  • A 2-hour trail ride = 720 calories

As you can see, it is not just the type of riding activity that affects how many calories horseback riding does burn, but also the duration of the activity. This will be affected by your own fitness levels, as well as your horse.

Some activities such as jumping and rodeo sports are high impact and may be detrimental to your horse’s bones, joints, and ligaments if carried out for long periods. A leisurely trail ride is not so strenuous, although your horse will need to be fit enough to cope with the length and speed of the ride.

Is Horseback Riding A Good Way To Keep Fit?

Most horse riders will tell you that there is no finer way to stay fit and in good shape! There is nothing better than getting out into the great outdoors for several hours on horseback, enjoying the fresh air, and keeping fit at the same time.

One of the reasons that horseback riding is a good way to burn calories is that you can go at your own pace, selecting the intensity of exercise that suits you. Plus, you and your horse can get fitter together, as you increase the intensity and duration of your riding exercise!

Horseback riding is a great way to keep muscles toned and in shape. This form of exercise uses pretty much every muscle in the body, as you move in time with the horse. You will also improve your core stability, by balancing your own body with the horse.

Horse riding is not a particularly intense form of cardiovascular exercise unless you are going to ride hard and fast for long periods. Many riders, such as horse racing jockeys, will carry out other forms of exercise to improve their strength and stamina.

How To Burn The Most Horseback Riding Calories

Now that we know how many calories does horseback riding burn, we can figure out how to get the most out of this fitness activity. The activities that burn the most calories for the rider are jumping and rodeo sports, it is not advisable to make your horse do these for long periods. Other types of riding, such as trail riding, do not burn as many calories but can be ridden for longer periods.

If you want to burn as many calories as possible, then trotting and cantering for long periods is the best way to do this without harming your horse. Keep an eye on the fitness levels of your horse and the ground conditions, to avoid the risk of injury. As your horse gets fitter, so will you as the rides get faster and longer!

If you and your horse are not very fit or are only able to trot and canter for short distances, you can carry out exercises in the saddle to boost how many calories does horseback riding burn. The best place to start is by working on maintaining a good body position to build up your core stability and muscular strength.

You can also carry out other exercises, such as stretches of the head, neck, shoulders, and arms. Standing on tiptoes in the stirrups can help to stretch out the hips, thighs, and knees. Make sure that you are in a safe place and that your horse is calm and reliable before attempting to do exercises in the saddle.

calories burned horse riding


So, as we have learned, horseback riding is a great way to keep fit and burn calories. Horse riding also helps to keep you in great shape by toning muscles and building core stability. To burn the most calories during horseback riding, carry out high-intensity activities such as jumping and rodeo sports.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about how many calories does horseback riding burn! Do you use horse riding to keep fit and healthy? Or maybe you’ve got some top tips for how to burn calories horseback riding? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

Read more about Are Draft Horses Good For Riding?