Could horses actually make your child smarter? Well researchers have found a link that appears to suggest just that.
A Japanese study found that children who rode performed better at solving simple problems and maths tests.
The researchers, from Tokyo’s University of Agriculture, concluded that the “vibrations” produced by horses while riding were the critical factor.
The study involved of 34 boys and 72 girls, aged between 10 and 12 years old, who were split into three groups.
One group rode, the second walked (on foot) and the third rested.
Three horses in regular work with an average age of 20 were used — a part-bred mare, a traditional Japanese Kiso gelding and a pony.
The participants alternated between their activity (riding, walking or resting) and solving the simple problem and maths questions.
The children who rode had measurably better post-activity results than the other two groups. Interestingly, the horses they rode also appeared to have a bearing.
The study showed that those who rode the part-bred mare and the pony had better results than those who rode the Kiso gelding.
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The authors acknowledged that many reports have shown the benefits of riding when it comes to enhancing physical and mental health. They also highlighted the help horses can have on child development, such as the ability to make considered decisions, come to sensible conclusions and to respond to emotional influences and non-verbal communication.
“The important benefits of horseback riding for children and human health appear to be caused by the horse’s vibrations, which may be different among horses,” concluded the researchers.
“Riding particular horses or breeds might improve the ability to recognise the appropriate action depending on the situation and the appropriately self-control in children, possibly through the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
“Some horse riding may reduce stress through the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.”
So good news for all the pony-mad youngsters out there — it would appear that going for a ride really can help with homework.