Hold Your Horses!
“And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know.” [Qur’an: Chapter 16, Verse 8]
Yes, we are talking today about the majestic, honourable, graceful and mighty horses. Those very creatures that have walked beside man as a loyal companion, from the beginning of time, up until today, and will stand loyal to its master until the end of time. They narrate that horse of Khalid bin Walid, named Ashqar was whipping on the grave of a great martyr and the companions were amazed at this expression of grief of this animal.
When the average person thinks about a horse, to some, it is a fluffy four-legged creature that simply eats all day and allows for the occasional pony ride, or maybe just some animal that you see on the fields near the road, on the way to your holiday destination. But indeed horse riding is a forgotten SUNNAH of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) where horses always carried image of love, respect, nobility and relaxation. The Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Everything with which a man amuses himself is vain except three (things): a man’s training of his horse, his playing with his wife and his shooting with his bow and arrow.” [Abu Dawud] (http://sunnah.com/abudawud/15/37)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) laid a great deal of stress on teaching children the art of archery, swimming, racing and horse riding. Today, these methods are prescribed as the best way to build stamina, endurance and a better physique.
The Benefits of Horse Riding
To the casual observer it may look like all the rider has to do is just sit there. The horse does all the work, well anyone who has ridden a horse will know how wrong that is. There is far more to riding a horse than one might expect. The benefits of horse riding are immense enjoyment, physically and mental fitness and a chance to enjoy the open countryside.
Horse riding develops balance and improve coordination and motor function. Other advantages include strengthening of muscles, reflex acceleration, prevention of muscle cramps, increased joint mobility, boosting the cardiovascular system , improving blood circulation, stimulation of sensory integration, improved visual perception of space, the development of responsibility, patience and self-discipline, increasing self-confidence
Riding a horse at a walk stimulates the internal organs just as walking on foot does. This aids in liver function and digestion. You will be burning calories at the rate of 5 calories per minute. Increasing the speed and ride duration will increase the intensity of your work out and burn more calories
Horse riding is an enjoyable hobby and sport for adults and children alike. Children can learn the responsibility of caring for an animal.
As you groom, clean stables, carry saddles, equipment or bales of hay you are learning to control and care for an animal much larger than yourself and it can have a profound affect on your confidence and is a great feeling. Riding is a great way to get out and see the surrounding countryside bringing the rider closer to nature. Simply being outdoors and enjoying the countryside will boost your general wellbeing and act as a great stress buster. There is a real sense of exhalation and freedom when you ride, a feeling that is second to none.
At first you may feel that just learning to stay on and steer the horse is a challenge. When that becomes easy many more learning opportunities present themselves. As you progress with riding and horse ownership you will always have questions and problems. Even the most experienced equestrian would admit there is always something new to learn. Research has shown that lifelong learning may prevent memory loss. Just like your muscles your brain needs exercise to keep young and supple. Riding provides an active avenue for keeping your brain exercised. Riding can provide many opportunities for success. Whether you learn to rise the trot or receive high marks in a dressage test, you’ll feel good about what you are doing.
For many a horse is a connection with nature whether they ride in the arena or on a trail. Many people find companionship and solace while working with their horse. Although riding can present its frustrations and challenges most people find it a relaxing pastime.
Did you know...
horse riding improves your sense of well being? It has the same antidepressant effects, similar to a "runner's high", associated with a drop in stress hormones!
Did you know...
some people with long standing illnesses or disabilities indicated an improved physical/mental condition, after going horse riding?
Did you know...
horse riding is a natural stimulator of the hormone serotonin? Serotonin is a natural mood enhancer which leads to a feeling of well being during and after exercise!
Did you know...
you can burn as many calories trotting on horseback as you can by heading down to the gym for a lunchtime workout?
As Muslims, we benefit from horses on three levels: physically, by keeping our bodies fit, as they are an amanah (trust) from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He); emotionally, as horse riding helps us de-stress, unwind and refocus our minds on our real purpose in life i.e. to live a life pleasing to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and eventually attain Jannah, In sha Allah; and lastly, we benefit from it spiritually. With horse riding being a sunnah and if it is done with these intentions, then we are receiving reward for even this fun activity. This in turn, is pleasing to our creator Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and so any act that is pleasing to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will bring us closer to Him. Subhan Allah, have you ever thought of it this way? We can actually turn a hobby of horse riding into eternal rewards!
I would like to conclude with the following hadith, the Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had said: “There is goodness in the forelocks of horses till the Day of Resurrection.” [Al-Bukhari] (http://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/12/44)
Let us take advantage of this beautiful gift from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), the horse and revive this amazing sunnah of horse riding in our lives, In sha Allah.