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A study from France sug­gests that rid­ing may en­hance your bal­ance when you’re on the ground.

For their study, re­searchers at the Univer­sité Paris Sud and Groupe Voltaire--Forestier Sel­lier chose 10 fe­male pro­fes­sional dres­sage rid­ers and 12 women who did not ride.

The women, who were all roughly the same height and body type, were asked to un­dergo a se­ries of bal­ance tests in which they stood atop a mo­bile pres­sure-sen­si­tive plat­form that could de­tect even small shifts in weight, ori­en­ta­tion and sta­bil­ity.

The women were asked to re­move their shoes and stand with their hands at their sides on the plat­form while it pre­sented three dif­fer­ent con­di­tions: still, see­saw­ing from side to side (medi­o­lat­eral in­sta­bil­ity) or see­saw­ing back to front (an­tero­pos­te­rior in­sta­bil­ity).

For one half of the tests the plat­form was bare, and for the other it was cov­ered with a layer of dense foam that re­duced the tac­tile feed­back the women re­ceived through their feet. They were also asked to re­peat the test se­ries with their eyes open and then closed.

The data showed that the rid­ers had bet­ter medi­o­lat­eral pos­tural (side-to-side) sta­bil­ity than did the non­rid­ers. Also, the rid­ers were less re­liant on their vi­sion to main­tain an­tero­pos­te­rior (back-to-front) sta­bil­ity and they were more sta­ble than were non­rid­ers when a layer of foam cov­ered the plat­form.

The re­searchers con­clude that “horse­back rid­ing could help devel­op­ing par­tic­u­lar pro­pri­o­cep­tive abil­i­ties on stand­ing pos­ture as well as bet­ter pos­tural mus­cle tone dur­ing par­tic­u­lar bipo­dal dy­namic per­tur­ba­tions.”

In other words, your time in the sad­dle could help you de­velop par­tic­u­lar pro­pri­o­cep­tive abil­i­ties when you’re on the ground.

Ref­er­ence: “Bal­ance con­trol dur­ing stance: A com­par­i­son be­tween horse­back rid­ing ath­letes and non-ath­letes,” PLOS One, Fe­bru­ary 2019

Re­search sug­gests that rid­ing can im­prove your pos­ture, mus­cle tone and bal­ance.

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