T-BOW, Spinning, Sweating to the oldies, each day the exercise crazed world comes up with a new way to re-invent the wheel for only $69.99. My daughter, the fitness nut, calls me weekly with the newest work-out trends. “Oh Mom, you have to try….”

I cannot tell you just how often I hear that I need to start working out for my health. I own a shelf full of exercise DVDs that just take up space and collect dust. I have a treadmill in the corner of my bedroom which my husband uses as a device to sort laundry. I ride horses 5 to 6 nights a week. My own doctor told me “riding is not exercise, you just sit there looking pretty and the horse does all the work.” … if that is the case, why am I ringing with sweat after each ride?

Here we go, Fitness Equestrian Style…

Let’s start with a warm up – Grooming. Remember the Karate Kid “wax on wax off”? Grab a brush in each hand and get those arms moving. Bend at the waist.. up… down the legs… twist to get under the belly.

Now for some weight-bearing exercises: pick the hooves, lift that saddle. You burn 6 calories a minute grooming a horse.

Let’s step up the cardio – Although it may seem as though the rider is not engaging in any physical exercise, an hour’s activity can burn similar calories to that of a 30-minute jog (6mph) or cycle ride (9mph). A 140 pound person riding a horse at a walk will burn about 2 calories a minute, trotting burns 6 calories per minute and galloping burns 8 calories a minute.

Horseback riding stimulates muscles in the dorsal and abdominal regions that are seldom used in everyday living. As a rider reacts to the horse’s movements to avoid becoming off-balance, the deep postural muscles of the trunk and pelvis and the adductor muscles of the thighs are continuously being conditioned. Wahoo!!! So much better that downward facing dog or the plank.

As with other forms of exercise, horse riding has excellent therapeutic qualities. Whether riding outside or in an arena simply being up and moving will boost your general well being and act as a great stress buster. The sense of exhalation and freedom you receive from a ride is a feeling that is second to none.

A reward you don’t get from a treadmill is the ability to developing a relationship and sense of trust between yourself and your horse. Learning to control and care for an animal much larger than yourself has a profound effect on your confidence and is a great feeling.

Next time someone invites you to the gym, suggest Dressage instead of Zumba.