Riding gives a lot back

Is riding captivating? Ask the people of Sweden about who won the Jerring Prize, Swedish radio's popular vote for sports performer of the previous year, in 2017. Or listen to what any of the 125,000 recreational and learner riders have to say about the matter. It is no coincidence that more and more schoolchildren are answering 'working with horses' when asked about their dream job. Nor is it by chance that riding is now seen as a popular movement rather than a luxury sport.

Today, for example, equestrianism is one of the biggest sports for the disabled. In 2015 only football was bigger, according to the Swedish Sports Confederation's statistics. In an article based on research from Luleå University of Technology, hastsverige.se reported that the stables environment can actually be regarded as a school for future leaders and entrepreneurs.

- Stable girls learn self-leadership and to lead others, something that they benefit from in later life, not least as horse-related entrepreneurs, researcher Mats Westerberg told the site.

Responsibility, community, leadership

There is something really special about mucking out, grooming and riding. The interaction between the person and the horse - responsibility, kindness and community - makes you grow as a person.

There are lots of examples of people who have gained new perspectives on their lives thanks to riding. For the journalist Jenny Fagerlund, riding offered a breathing space when she was working a lot or just needed to get away from her everyday life.

- I've met friends for life and when I had a horse that I looked after, the stables and the people there were like a second family to me. The horses have taught me so much. Taking responsibility, leadership, daring to do things you didn't think were possible, like getting over high obstacles or galloping flat out across a field, Jenny says.

Clear physical effects

So what exactly is the secret behind the resurgence of the stable, the explanation for how over a thousand riding clubs are now affiliated to the Swedish Equestrian Federation? In her book, "Back in the stable", Anna Kågström argues that former stable boys and girls are now returning to riding and the stables culture as adults.

What's more, riding also makes you as strong as... well, a horse, right? Anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows that your legs and core get a real workout. Who could turn down a stimulating and health-promoting hour on horseback that also has clear physical benefits?

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