The New York Times affirms that riding can be moderate to even strenuous exercise, depending on how you ride. The report cites a study comparing the energy expended in various form of exercise. The energy expended is expressed in METs. A MET is the ratio of the work metabolic rate to the resting metabolic rate, or the amount of energy used as a multiple of just sitting still.
To set some parameters for comparison, a 1-MET activity would be the equivalent of sitting still. A basketball game or a football game ranks as an 8-MET activity. Activities such as recreational badminton or golf (walking the course and pulling your own clubs) generally requires 5.5 METs. Riding a horse varies according to the gait, but in general, it requires about the same as badminton or golf.
At a full gallop, 7.3 METs are required; a trot requires 5.8 METs; and walking the horse requires only 3.8 METs—about the same as bowling. Oh, and mucking a stall is a 4.3 MET activity!
Posted September 30, 2014