Can My Horse Really Help My Mental Health?

This article is part of our Mental Health Awareness Month. Brought to you by Touched by a Horse.

At the barn we have a healing partner that will help us live healthier lives mentally and emotionally, if only we let them. Most often we go to the barn with a goal in our head of what we want to achieve with our horse in our riding session for that day. This is great for training but can keep us from experiencing the special gifts our horses have to offer. When we need a break and to slow down, sometimes we just need to be present with our horse and spend quality time grooming without the worries of riding. We need to learn to be present and enjoy the moment by being mindful instead of having our minds full.

If you’ve been seeking wisdom on how to improve your mental health to live a better life, your horse has a lot to show you—if only you’re willing to suspend your daily goals occasionally.


Horses are talented at transforming our human energies. But how do you know when your horse is just enjoying his grooming session versus when he is balancing your heart, body, and mind into a healthier state of being? One clear indicator is an equine action termed leaching.

Rhianon, a member of the healing herd at Touched by a Horse, leaches negative energy from a client.

When a horse leaches, he is pulling the negative or dark energy field from you through your body and discharging it out. Your horse won’t hang onto this energy and it’s not damaging to him. Leaching is demonstrated as frequent, repeated yawning. It will look different from a tired yawn since tired horses will lower their head and close their eyes. With a leaching yawn, it occurs five to 20 times in a row with one right after another.

But when will this happen?

That’s the tricky part—you must drop your agenda and just be with your horse. For leaching to occur, you need to stand quietly and close to your horse. For this exercise, you’ll need to allow your horse to possibly come into your space more than usual. Your horse should be at liberty in an area with no grass or distractions.

With your horse, allow yourself to stop and breathe while you settle into your feet. Move out of your brain and into your body and make the journey from the head to the heart. Connect your feet on the ground as you allow everything in your mind to stop. As you breathe rhythmically, allow your horse to settle in near you at liberty. With you and your horse standing quietly, you will notice your horse readjusting his position—this is him preparing to pull the negative energy from you. When your horse gathers the energy, it will go through his body for him to diffuse. Once your horse has diffused your energy, you will quickly begin to feel better mentally and emotionally.

Listen to our The Ride’s Winning Insights multi-part series on how horses can help us heal here:

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