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Turns out horseback riding is more than a character-building hobby or after-school pursuit—it may actually help children learn, new research has found.
Researchers from the Toyko University of Agriculture have discovered that the vibrations created by horses while being ridden activates the area of the brain known as the sympathetic nervous system. The study, published in Frontiers in Public Health, involved asking children to complete simple response and mathematical tests, before and after riding a horse.
The results showed that riding horses greatly improved the children’s ability to perform behavioral tasks, leading to better memory, learning, and problem solving. The findings were less significant when it came to math problems.
So does this mean that any activity that causes a slight vibration could be beneficial for our children—cycling, for example? Apparently not.
“One important characteristic of horse steps is that they produce three-dimensional accelerations,” study author Professor Mitsuaki Ohta told the Independent. “The movement of the horse’s pelvis may provide motor and sensory inputs to the human body and in this study I believe some of the differences among the rider’s performances might be due to these accelerations.”