The Many Ways Your Horse Can Heal You

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

As we bring February to a close—and in turn, our Mental Health Awareness Month—we’ve covered the many ways that your horse can heal you. From teaching you the power of mastering emotional intelligence, to the benefits of equine-assisted therapy, your horse is a master healer. Let’s recap the ways that your horse can improve your mental health, and soothe your soul every time you go to the barn.

Finding Peace in the Moment

Whether it’s watching your horse graze in the pasture, or riding leisurely down the trail, learning to stay present in the moment will benefit your mental health. Horses aren’t bothered by the worries of tomorrow, nor do they hold onto grudges from yesterday. When you’re teaching a forehand turn, your horse isn’t in his head thinking about his to-do list. He’s living in the moment and trying to focus on the task at hand. Practice staying grounded and present when you’re riding, or working with your four-legged friend. By staying in the moment you can give your horse your entire focus, and be attuned to his body language and needs.

A Trusted Confidante

Nobody is going to keep your secrets better than your horse. Chances are that you’ve at some point had a long and trying day, and headed to the barn to feel better. Being in the presence of a horse can have profound impacts on your wellbeing and mental health. Their quiet and gentle nature reminds you to take a breath and slow down. Bury your face in his mane and remember all the good that there is in life. Observe him in his environment and interactions with other horses to be reminded of the importance of companionship.

Learn the Power of Mindfulness

Horses, by their very nature, embody mindfulness. They are keenly attuned to their surroundings, responsive to subtle cues, and instinctively present in the moment. Through observing and interacting with your horse, you can learn valuable lessons in patience, empathy, and non-verbal communication. The act of grooming, for example, provides an opportunity for both of you to engage in a mutually beneficial, mindful interaction, fostering a sense of connection and trust. Learn to stay fully present when working with your horse, enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, and environment you are in at that moment. It’s easy to climb on your horse and let your mind wander to the lengthy to-do list you have to complete today. But, this robs you of the opportunity to be present, grateful, and alert while riding.

Horses, by their very nature, embody mindfulness. Photo courtesy of Touched By a Horse.

Building Trust and Self-Confidence

Interacting with horses can be empowering, fostering the development of trust, respect, and self-confidence. Through positive experiences with equines, you can cultivate a sense of accomplishment, assertiveness, and effective communication skills. These are invaluable attributes that extend beyond the therapeutic setting and into daily life. Focusing on improving the bond with your horse can strengthen your leadership skills and emotional intelligence. This not only benefits your wellbeing, but enhances your training.

A Mirror of Your Emotions

If you want to put your emotional regulation to the test, go ride your horse when you’re having a bad day. Unfortunately we can’t always wait to saddle up until we’re in the perfect mindset. But your horse can teach you to recognize and regulate your emotions. Horses are a mirror to our souls and our attitude. They react positively to positive emotion, and can sense when you’re just feeling ‘off.’ If you’re struggling in your training or your horse is displaying attitude problems, take a long, hard look at your own mood and behavior. Being aware of how your horse reflects your emotions back to you can give you insight into the impact that your attitude has on those around you. Learn to regulate your emotions, and develop emotional intelligence with the help of your horse.

Let Him Heal You

When working with your horse, you need to make a conscious decision to accept his help. When your horse acts as a sponge to absorb your energy, they transmute it, discharge it, and cleanse themselves. The diffusion can be seen in a variety of different ways including licking or chewing. As you allow your horse to transmute your emotion, you will begin to feel a shift that makes you feel more open as a sense of calmness washes over you.

When your horse acts as a sponge to absorb your energy, they transmute it, discharge it, and cleanse themselves. Photo courtesy of Touched By a Horse.

We can experience this in our everyday lives with horses. However, if you’ve experienced trauma or are having a hard time managing your emotions, you might consider an Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® coach. These coaches will connect you with their horse and work through an experiential session that will enable you to become aware of emotional blockages and unfinished business that might be holding you back in life. Your horse is more than a mirror to your soul, they can help heal it.

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