We all know that horses are good for our soul, but did you know that they are also good for our mental health? It is becoming more and more popular for horses to be used in therapy. Keep reading to find out how horses can benefit our mental health.
You can’t hide your emotions from a horse.
Horses are super sensitive to our emotions. They respond to cues and tend to mirror how we feel. Have you ever had a bad day and took it to the barn with you? Or have you lost patience with a green horse? If you have, it probably didn’t end well, in fact, it probably made the situation worse. You can’t hide your emotions from a horse; their response is a reflection of your emotions. This can give us a sense of self-awareness if we listen to it. Once we do, our bad day may do a 180 instantly.
Your horse loves you, no matter what.
We all talk to our horses. They know our deepest darkest secrets that we wouldn’t dare tell a human soul. They know our stresses, our happy moments, and why we cry. Why do we do this? Obviously, they won’t tell a soul (besides maybe the gelding next door), but they still love us. They do not judge us and we trust them. Horses become our safe place.
Horses can help with Anxiety.
So many people have anxiety; it actually affects around 17 million Americans. Whether it is in the form of a phobia or a panic disorder, horses can help. How? When we are with our horses, we are 110% present at all times, we have to be. If our mind is somewhere else on the back of a colt, things could go south very quickly. They’re a 1500lb animal and, realistically, they could do real damage to us if they wanted to. When we are present like we are with our horses, all our anxiety about tomorrow’s big calculus test or meeting with the boss disintegrates.
Horses can help with PTSD.
PTSD is post-traumatic stress disorder; we hear about it from soldiers who return to war. It can also affect people that have experienced trauma in their life that haunts them. PTSD usually consists of a combination of anxiety, flashbacks and feeling numb to emotion. It’s a serious disorder, but there is a treatment that incorporates horses. Horses build confidence; when we are able to train them to master a new skill, or they perform well, it makes us feel good about ourselves and makes us proud. We are trusting them every time they take a step, and for people with PTSD, this is life-changing when they make a connection with a horse. Therapeutic horseback riding is becoming very popular for people suffering from PTSD because it works, there is even research behind it found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Interacting with horses can be a great way to help ease mental health issues, but you don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to experience the mental health benefits of horses. Horses help us stay present and make us feel good about ourselves. How does your horse keep you thinking in a positive direction?
About the Author
Dani Buckley is a small-town resident in Montana. She is a veterinary technician manager and mom of eight four-legged kids – 5 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 horses. When she moved back home to Montana, her horses and her dogs moved with her (Carbon and Milo). The pack grew by three when she moved in with her boyfriend, Cody. Altogether there is a German Shepard (Lupay), a Border Collie (Missy), a Blue Heeler (Taz) and her two adorable mutts.
Her horses are her free time passion – Squaw and Tulsa. Dani has owned Squaw for 17 years and this mare has made 2 trips across the country with Dani! Squaw is a retired rodeo and cow horse. Her other mare, Tulsa, is an upcoming ranch horse. The girls have an unmatched personality and bond with Dani. She has been around horses her entire life and rodeoed throughout highschool and beyond. Now, she enjoys riding on the ranch, working cattle and trail riding.