Horseback riding is an athletic sport
If you love horses then you know that you either want to ride or you already do. Unlike other types of pets you have, a horse requires something extra from its owner, that the owner be in shape. The owner not only has to be in shape for riding but also for handling the horse on the ground. Reflexes have to be good when the horse spooks at something and either tries to knock you down while spinning on the lead line or just you picking the horse's hooves out and the horse pulls its foot away from you. Yes, the horse owner can get hurt, not because of carelessness but because of the size of the animal they are handling.
When riding a horse a whole new world opens up to the owner, such as how to get on the horse without pulling the horse down on top of you while awkwardly hoisting yourself into the saddle. I cannot tell you how many times I have witnessed that. If only the owners would take as much time exercising themselves as they did their horses they would not have the problem like the horse moving away from them while they are trying to get in the saddle.
At one point in my life I was a professional horseback riding instructor and all of the people who took lessons from me were in good physical shape. I made it a point to evaluate a new student before they got near one of my lesson horses. I would flat out tell them that learning to ride a horse is different than just being a passenger on a guided tour on a dead broke, follow the horse in front, trail horse. They, the rider, had to be in shape. If that meant to go home and do ab workouts, crunches and go on a diet, then so be it. I rarely had a client not come back.
If you want to ride but you think you are just a tad out of shape, try this test: stand on your left leg and bend your right leg so that you can hold your right foot in you right hand. Stand like that for at least 30 seconds. Now switch. If you had trouble keeping your balance then you need to practice balance exercises. Balance and center of gravity is a huge part of horseback riding – you must have that even before you get in the saddle.
Always keep in mind that horseback riding is considered the top most dangerous sport in the world (according to insurance companies), so you had better be in shape for it.