Horse riding and horse care are physically demanding. Our horse insurance team decided to have a look at the science and find out how many calories we’re burning when looking after and riding our horses.

It isn’t just the riding part of being involved with horses that burns calories, from the moment you arrive at the yard it is likely you will be on the move. There is often plenty of strenuous physical activity to be done when caring for a horse.

Mucking out and poo picking

If the horse is stabled, the stable will need mucking out and new bedding put in. Simply loading, moving and unloading a bale of straw or shavings using a wheelbarrow is a physically demanding task. If the horse is out in the field, it is likely the droppings will need to be picked up – cue more wheeling of the wheelbarrow, bending and lifting. Even grooming a horse is a good upper-body workout!


If you enjoy taking your horse out to shows, calories burned on a show day will be even more impressive. All the bathing – scrubbing at green hocks and knees, plaiting, filling up water containers and haynets and loading up count toward calories burned.

All this is before you have even tacked up and mounted up! When you are on board and ready to go, riding can range from a fairly effortless sedate walk to jumping and cantering a horse that is pulling hard. Other factors such as the time spent riding will affect the number of calories burned.

How many calories do you burn riding a horse?

So, does horse riding burn calories? When riding a horse at walk, experts estimate that around 250 – 400 calories an hour will be burned. This rises to 550 – 700 calories an hour when in canter or gallop. Although, while this sounds impressive, riding at canter or gallop would generally be unsustainable for a solid hour.

It’s estimated that an hour of vigorous and sustained mucking out can burn up to 460 calories, although even those people with just the one horse to muck out can burn around 75 calories each day on this task.

Add on all the walking, lifting, bending, wheelbarrow pushing and riding and looking after horses definitely equates to a daily gym visit – but with plenty of fresh air and all the wellbeing benefits of spending time with your four-legged friends.

About SEIB

SEIB have been arranging insurance for horses for 60 years, we also specialise in Horsebox insurance and Horse Trailer Insurance. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.