Horse yoga is a thing... but is it worth the amazing photos?

These incredible horse yoga photos are getting popular online... but there's a dangerous aspect to the practice

Horse yoga
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not exactly news to say yoga fever has gripped the world. Yoga classes of all different flavours have never been more popular. Even during the months spent in lockdown, many of us were following YouTube yoga classes on our living room floor with online instructors like Yoga With Adriene

At one time, you might have thought hot yoga was as novelty as yoga gets. However, in recent years, other interesting yoga-flavoured exercise classes have been popping up trying to capture people's interest in the yoga craze. 

Disco yoga, for example, or beer yoga, for example, in which yoga is performed with a pint of beer in a brewery or taproom. Or even paddleboard yoga, when you have to perform yoga while balancing on a floating SUP board in a lake, river or sea. 

However, when it comes to impressive Instagram glamour shots, one new form of yoga might really have the others beaten. Say hello to horse yoga.

Horse yoga is exactly what you might think: yoga practised on a horse. It's supposed to be calming and therapeutic for both horse and rider, using breath and poses to strengthen to connection between animal and person. 

In Horse and Hound, yogi and horse owner Angela Nuñez wrote: I started trying yoga flows on [Snowy, her horse] and it was like giving him a massage — it triggers their relaxation reflex.

“Snowy holds tension in his withers and shoulders due to conformation faults... so I do the downward dog pose on him, which means I apply pressure through my palms onto the affected areas — he licks, chews, yawns and lowers his head as I go, which are all signs of relaxation."

Horse yoga makes for some incredible imagery, and Nuñez makes some compelling arguments that it's therapeutic for both parties. 

The practice has gotten some backlash online, with arguments that it's dangerous for the rider (imagine a horse bucking while you're trying to do a headstand!) and harmful for the horses' back and spine. 

However, to date, there is no evidence horses suffer any health problems as a result of the yoga practice. The risks to the rider, on the other hand, are very obvious!

Goat yoga, a popular trend in which you practice yoga and play with billy goat kids at the same time, has also been on the receiving end of some disturbing reports of stressed animals.

Either way, it's probably best you took advantage of yoga's numerous health benefits on a mat instead of with live animals for now. The pictures might be less impressive, but it's undeniably a lot safer. 

Liked this? Try Fit & Well's beginner yoga workout below:

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.