Rider Energy Expenditure During High Intensity Horse Activity. Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite the fact that horseback riding is a popular sport, there is little information available on horseback riding as a physical activity. The objective of this experiment was to quantify energy expenditure of participants (n=20) during three riding tests: a 45min walk-trot-canter ride (WTC), a reining pattern ride and a cutting simulation ride while wearing a telemetric gas analyzer. Total energy expenditure (tEE), mean and peak metabolic equivalents of task (MET), heart rate (HR), respiratory frequency (RF), relative oxygen consumption (relVO2), and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) were assessed. Mean MET and HR responses were greater (P < .05) for riders during the long trot portion of the WTC (6.19 ± 0.21 MET, 152.14 ± 4.4 bpm) and cutting (4.53±0.21 MET, 146.88 ± 4.4 bpm) vs the overall WTC (3.81 ± 0.16 MET, 131.5 ± 4.2 bpm). When WTC was evaluated by gait, mean MET increased as gait speed increased. As expected, METs were greater (P < .05) for riders during long trot (6.19 ± 0.21 MET) and canter (5.95 ± 0.21 MET) than during the walk (2.01 ± 0.21 MET) or trot (3.2 ± 0.21 MET). Previous horseback riding studies have not reported METs, but the peaks of all three activities in the present study were similar to METs measured during activities like jogging, playing soccer and rugby. Riders engaged in cutting and reining experienced more intense exercise in short durations, while, as expected on the basis of the duration of the activity, WTC provided a greater overall total energy expenditure. These results suggest that it is possible for health benefits to be achieved through accumulated horseback riding exercise, particularly if riding at the more intense gaits.

published proceedings

  • J Equine Vet Sci

altmetric score

  • 5.1

author list (cited authors)

  • O'Reilly, C., Zoller, J., Sigler, D., Vogelsang, M., Sawyer, J., & Fluckey, J

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • O'Reilly, Colleen||Zoller, Jennifer||Sigler, Dennis||Vogelsang, Martha||Sawyer, Jason||Fluckey, James

publication date

  • July 2021