How Many Calories Do You Burn Horseback Riding?

Maybe More Than You Think!

If you're coming to Brown County State Park, one of the most beautiful parks in North America, you're going to want to ride horses. Fortunately, The Brown County State Park provides a spectacular variety of Horseback riding trails of all levels available throughout the park. You'll typically start your visit by first entering the State Park either via the covered bridge on the north side or the west side, which doesn't have a covered bridge and allows heavier gross vehicle weights.

Brown County State Park Covered Bridge Entrance North Side

Horses Make You Smile and Exercise all at the Same Time

Burning Calories Horseback Riding

The calories you may burn from riding a horse on trail rides depends on what type of riding you're doing. Horseback riding may involve gentle trail riding, although trail riding can also be very challenging, and can resemble an obstacle course, depending upon the terrain.

Different Horseback Rides Affect Calories Burned

If you're doing more intense gaits, long trot canter, cutting patterns, or other more high intensity horse riding styles, the calories burned can vary quite a bit.

Horseback Riding Calories Burned Calculator

Since many of our friends ride horses for the health benefits, and we frequently get asked how many calories do you burn horseback riding, we did the research and built a horseback riding calories burned calculator.  Of course, we also advised those who were 'newbies', to consider riding lessons.

Calorie Burning vs Weight Loss

Growing up in Brown County, Indiana, we were a 4 sport a year household. In the middle of winter, you might find me jogging five or ten miles on the old jeep trails in the Brown County State Park. If we wanted to walk, then we would walk through the woods while hunting mushrooms, or just exploring.

Riding Horses Was Second Nature

Though riding horses was one of my favorite activities, it wasn't really a 'sport for us' but it is a sport, and it did result in a high energy expenditure and helped build core muscles. As young teenage boy horse riders, you burn calories at a furious pace, no matter what sport you participate in. Horseback riding was and is good exercise, even now that we are older. Of course, you have to enjoy riding and physical activity. Horseback riding has a therapeutic aspect that can't be ignored.

Horseback Riding is a Great Family Adventure

Now that I am older, with my own grown children, who never had a chance growing up to go horseback riding, I wanted to make sure they at least got a chance to ride in Brown County, if not in the State Park. So not so long ago, we all went to the Schooner Valley Stables and took guided horseback riding adventure.  Of course we took pictures of each other in this social media obsessed world.  You have to document the experience, after all.

How Many Calories Did We Burn That Day?


Schooner Valley Stables Horseback Ride Adventure

We Burned More Calories Getting On the Horse Than Riding the Horse

Lonnie Ayers - Mounted Up

I didn't think they would have a horse big enough for cowboy like me. But, they had several that were perfect for a rider like me. As it happens, we used to own one just like the one in the image above which we used to trail ride (and as pets). Ours could walk, trot and canter, but these horses were more for just riding a trail.  They were also calm, and never bolted when we built a campfire out in the wilderness.


Panoramic View of the Trail

Twenty Riders on this Ride

Though you can't see them all, there were about twenty riders riding this day, including a couple of guides. But these horses mostly came with automatic transmissions that mostly worked at slow speed - a good thing:) Though you could try reining them in a little bit, they knew the trail better than we did, and mostly went the right way.

All-Wheel Drive Horses

Brown County being Hill Country, our little horseback riding adventure included what you might call a couple of newbie riding tests. One was going down a hill. As this trail had been ridden by my horse many times, the trail was very rutted, and muddy. In other words, pretty much a normal trail in Brown County.

Going Down Hill Harder than Going Uphill?

Having walked up and down most every hill in southern Brown County, it always seemed strange to me that going downhill was harder than going up (but you would need to verify this using a telemetric gas analyzer).

Yes, the energy exerted was probably higher, while the calories were probably also higher, and your carbon dioxide production was definitely higher, going downhill was still 'harder'. How so? Muscles on the back of your legs. If you ever had to hold yourself back while carefully picking your way back down a steep hill or mountain, you'll definitely recall feeling the burn in the back part of legs.  They tend to 'bark' pretty loudly at you, sometimes for few days afterwards.

Horses Work Hard Going Downhill - So Hang On

Riding Downhill

When you're horseback riding downhill, you find yourself wrapping your legs tightly around the horse and fighting the sensation you are going to fall forward and off the horse. How much energy does this burn and how does it affect your oxygen consumption? The calorie burn depends on how fast you attempt to descend the trail and how long your heart rate is elevated as a result. But this is like any other exercise, the higher and longer your heart rate is elevated, the more calories burned.

Ride Horses to Beat Childhood Obesity

Riding horses definitely affects cardiac health and respiratory health, no matter your age. But riding is just one part of horseback riding. There's also the emotional impact of caring and feeding for your horse. Long before you go trail riding, you walk. First, you walk to feed and water them which requires energy. Come good weather or bad, they have to be cared for. This alone can have cardiac and respiratory health benefits.

Then you have to make sure they are properly cleaned and combed which requires energy and builds muscles. Their hooves have to be taken care of, which will burn energy. It requires different disciplines to truly take care of a horse. Learning and employing all of the different disciplines for a sustained period of time will not only help your child burn calories, it will help them develop valuable, lifelong habits.

How Many Calories Will You Burn Horse Riding?

Now that you know how many calories you burn horseback riding for an hour, using our calculator, how long do you plan to ride today?


Horse In Heart


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