If you are looking for outdoor pursuits in the upcoming cold months, consider the equestrian opportunities of horseback riding.
Horses harness an ability to make you feel connected to the natural world like no other animal. They are strong yet gentle. Independent yet empathic. There’s something about their calming nature that can bring one into a state of harmony.
Living in the Greenville area, horses are a common sight. Even though I live in a suburban environment, it’s not unusual to pass a horse in a large yard on the way to the grocery store or dropping my kids off at school. Seeing horses always makes me feel good, and when possible, I enjoy giving my kids opportunities to get to know these magnificent creatures a little better.
When I lived in the Midwest, I assumed horses were stabled all winter, but in South Carolina you see them out even in the very coldest days of winter. At first, my heart would go out to them. I’d worry they might catch a cold, or even pneumonia, but they don’t need to be cooped up in a dry stable when it’s cold. They’re not like bears. In fact, they need constant access to the outdoors to be able to adapt to the changing seasons.
Horses are truly wild creatures of nature that require being outside. Through their skin, they can self-regulate their temperatures. Each hair of a horse has a muscle on it, giving them the ability to raise their hairs when it’s cold and trap warmth, or lower the hairs when they want it cooler. As long as the weather isn’t extreme, like freezing rain, it’s better for a horse to be out in the pasture than in a stable with a blanket, which can in fact disable the horse from self-regulating.
So layer up and seek the camaraderie of a horse. They need the exercise, and the benefits are endless for you and your family. Physically the horse’s gait mimics the human’s, providing neural and muscular stimulation with each step, so riders experience improvement in posture, balance, and coordination. Sensory-wise, it’s one of the best ways to experience the sights and sounds of a natural environment, and the companionable relationship of a horse has been proven to increase self-esteem in humans, among other emotional benefits.
There are other benefits to riding in the winter months. Allergies, heat and pesky insects are at a minimum, and the cooler weather makes for an allover pleasant experience. For more information on riding opportunities in the Greenville area, visit The Tack Shop website.
Written by Irena Tervo.