How Many Calories Do You Burn Riding a Horse


Riding a horse is a great way to stay fit, increase strength, and burn calories. Not only does horseback riding require physical strength and coordination, it also stimulates the mind and boosts self-confidence. Riding a horse is one of the few activities that involve both physical fitness and psychological health. But how many calories does riding a horse actually burn?

Calorie expenditure while riding horses varies depending on the type of ride, time spent in the saddle, individual riders’ size, weight, gender and riding style. It is impossible to calculate exactly how many calories will be burned on every ride since there are too many variables involved. However, estimates can be made based on the intensity of your ride as opposed to simply sitting in the saddle for an extended period of time.

When riding at a trot or canter you can expect to expend more energy than when walking or just sitting in the saddle. Trotting burns more calories per hour than any other form of speed because it requires more effort from your hips and legs to remain balanced on the moving animal at all times – this engages additional major muscle groups throughout your body including your abs and core muscles as well as your back extensors for proper posture. Additionally you must use your upper body for control of both reins and stirrups with each movement; involving additional arm muscles whenever you make adjustments or leads changes during the course of activity.

How Many Calories Does Riding a Horse Burn?

Riding a horse is a great way to get some exercise and stay active. It’s a unique way to move your body and get your heart rate up, while learning a new activity. But just how many calories can you burn while riding a horse?

In this article, we will explore the question of how many calories are burned while horseback riding. We’ll also look at the health benefits and potential dangers of spending time on horseback.

Factors that Affect the Number of Calories Burned

The amount of calories burned when riding a horse varies greatly depending on the individual and the activity involved. The actual amount will depend on several factors, such as body weight, speed and intensity of the ride, type of terrain and so on.

Typically, a person weighing 140 pounds (64 kg) can expect to burn between 297 – 456 calories in one hour of horseback riding at a leisurely pace. Of course, if they ride at a faster speed with more frequent stops they can burn up to 704 calories within that same time period.

Additionally, riders tend to burn more calories in certain situations such as when they are traversing hills or uneven terrain or when galloping or jumping obstacles. Hills and uneven terrain require more effort from the rider as well as their equine partner. Galloping places an high demand for sustained effort from both parties whereas jumping obstacles is an intermittent exercise where concentrations must be maintained for brief moments of effort in order for a successful outcome.

Finally, those who follow an exercise routine are likely to burn more than those who do not; thus it is important to stay consistent with one’s exercise program if hoping to achieve maximum calorie burning efficiency from horseriding activities.

Intensity of the Ride

The number of calories you burn while riding a horse can depend on a variety of factors, such as the length of the ride, intensity of the ride, and your body weight. The below formula is based on the estimated MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) that indicates what activity your body is doing when riding a horse and how many calories you’re burning.

At .1 intensity, or slow metabolic equivalent for task (MET) for walking horseback riding, one hour at an intensity level of 1 to 2 will require 5 to 9 calories per minute. To predict how many calories you’ll burn in one hour of riding at .1 intensity and 140 pounds; this would equal 600 to 1080 calories per hour. Calories burned also increase as your speed increases so if you’re trotting or cantering then it’s best to use a more accurate calorie calculator such as MyFitnessPal or RunKeeper to determine more accurate calorie expenditure.

Weight of the Rider

The weight of the rider also plays a significant role in determining how many calories are burned while riding a horse. It is estimated that a person weighing 140 pounds (63.50 kg) can burn 200 calories in an hour of riding at a slow pace or 285 calories at a brisk pace. A person weighing 180 pounds (81.64 kg) can burn about 255 calories in an hour of slow-paced riding or 375 calories in a brisk-paced ride.

The heavier you are, the more energy you need to move on your horse, so make sure to factor your weight into the equation when calculating your calorie burn goals for riding your equine companion.

Length of the Ride

The amount of calories burned while riding a horse can vary greatly depending on the length and type of ride. When determining the number of calories you burn per hour, there are additional factors that should be considered such as your weight, type of saddle, and the duration of your ride.

For an average weighted person, riding with an English saddle for .3 length (45 minutes) can result in approximately 200-515 calories burned. The actual breakdown is based on intensity level:

  • Low effort equals 200-250 calories burned;
  • Moderate effort equals 250-420 calories; and
  • High effort equals 420-515 calories.

Intensity level will depend on how fast or slow you’re riding, how often you change direction/speed, and if any jumping/stretching was involved.

The more intense and prolonged your ride is, the more quickly you’ll burn off those extra few hundred calories! Monitor your heart rate to ensure a safe level of physical activity while enjoying all that time in the saddle.

Estimating the Number of Calories Burned

Calorie burn while riding a horse depends on the intensity and duration of the ride. The length, speed, hills and terrain make a big difference in how many calories an individual rider may burn.

To get an estimate of how many calories are burned per hour when riding a horse, multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.724 to calculate MET (metabolic equivalent of task). To find the number of calories burned per hour, multiply your body weight in kilograms by MET and duration (in hours) to arrive at a general estimate.

For example, if you weigh 138lb (62kg) and your ride is about 30 minutes long (0.5 hours), then you would have 62 X 0.724 X 0.5 = 24 Calories burned per half hour. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate as variables such as terrain can increase calorie burned significantly especially if there are more hills or rough ground that you’re traversing across with your horse ride. Additionally, the type of saddle used while riding can also affect calorie burn as not all types are made for maximum comfort or built for efficiency in forward motion so there may be more energy used while using certain styles or models over others depending upon your preference or usage.

Benefits of Riding a Horse

Riding a horse can be a great way to get exercise and have a fun time with a furry friend. Along with the physical and mental benefits, riding a horse can also help you burn calories. Riding a horse can be a low-impact activity and great for those who cannot handle more strenuous activities like running or cycling.

So, let’s explore some of the benefits of riding a horse and how many calories you can burn:

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

Riding a horse not only burns calories, but also provides numerous health benefits. Improved cardiovascular fitness can be achieved by riding a horse, as it helps to strengthen the muscles of the heart and increase the functionality of the circulatory system. As you ride for an extended period, your heart rate increases and requires more oxygen, which leads to better cardiac efficiency. This type of activity is also beneficial for improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Additionally, when coupled with proper nutrition and lifestyle adjustments, horseback riding offers a supportive approach for those looking to achieve their health goals.

Improved Flexibility and Balance

Riding horses requires you to maintain balance, often shifting your body slightly in the saddle to keep your center of gravity. This improves your overall agility, flexibility and balance. As a result, you will find that new activities – even those unrelated to horseback riding – are easier and more comfortable. Many riders also report an improvement in how well they stand from a sitting position as well as better control when lifting their leg in order to get onto their horse or when vaulting onto their horse’s back.

Riding also necessitates good posture and improved muscle tone throughout the entire body. You may be surprised at how much effort it takes just to steer, manage the gait of the horse, ride through inclines/declines or correct a misstep as you gallop across open fields or through wooded trails. Riding encourages hip mobility while also stretching out muscles not usually engaged in everyday activities such as driving or sitting at a desk all day.

The focus on alignment needed for optimal performance builds strong core muscles while challenges the vestibular system which helps riders develop a sense of spatial awareness, depth perception and coordination related to where their bodies are in space. All these factors combined contribute to improved athletic performance outside of riding, especially for those competing in sports such as soccer, hockey or lacrosse.

Improved Mental Health

Riding a horse offers many potential benefits to mental and physical health. In particular, it can be an effective way to reduce stress levels and improve psychological wellbeing. It has been shown that exposure to animals can help lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, while the physical activity of riding helps manage the hormones that regulate mood.

Horseback riding is an effective way of improving self-esteem, developing relaxation skills and increasing focus. The benefit of being out in nature during horseback riding can also help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Nature provides contexts for reflection which can be beneficial for overall mental health.

Other psychological advantages include:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased confidence
  • Learning challenges that are achievable yet still motivating to complete.

Riding horses also provides an opportunity for self-expression through movement which allows riders to work through their emotions more effectively.


The exact number of calories burned while riding a horse depends on the weight of the rider, the intensity of riding activities, and the duration of time spent in the saddle. Generally speaking, a person who weighs 154 lbs. can burn around 306 calories per hour while walking horseback and up to 488 calories per hour while engaged in an intense ride.

A number of factors influence how many calories a person burns during equestrian activities. It is important to note that different styles, types, and intensities of riding will produce varying results. Furthermore, individual experiences and personal goals should be taken into account when determining how many calories are burned throughout each ride. For example, if weight loss is desired then longer duration rides at higher intensity levels should be prioritized over short bursts at low intensities.

With a planned exercise regimen that includes horseback riding as well as other forms of physical activity focused on aerobic training, individuals can achieve measurable benefits such as:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Reductions in body fat composition
  • Increased physical strength and endurance
  • Improved posture and flexibility
  • Calorically expenditure benefits for overall health benefits

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How many calories do you burn riding a horse?

A1: According to the American Council on Exercise, riding a horse for 30 minutes can burn between 210-360 calories, depending on the intensity of the ride.

Q2: Does riding a horse give you a good workout?

A2: Yes, riding a horse can be a great way to get a good workout. It can help to improve balance, coordination, and posture. It also engages your core and leg muscles.

Q3: What’s the difference between riding a horse and running?

A3: Riding a horse is a low impact exercise, while running is a high impact exercise. Riding a horse is gentler on your joints, while running can be more strenuous. Also, riding a horse is fun and therapeutic, while running can be boring and monotonous.