There’s something about the outside of my horse that’s good for the inside of me. When I brush my sweet Half-Arabian mare Belle, or put my foot in the stirrup to ride, my mind leaves the worries of this world. A great escape (and good exercise, too)!

Credit: Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

Evelyn Quillen, Oklahoma

Yes, librarians get stressed, too. And when that happens, my husband banishes me to the barn for horse therapy. Scratching my big Paint gelding’s bum (his favorite spot) as we listen to a book together makes all the worries go away.

Kristi Pierce, Illinois

Most women understand completely when another says, “I just need a good cry.” My wonderful 21-year-old Quarter/Morgan mare is no different. She’ll stand motionless while I wrap my arms around her neck; bury my face in her mane; and have a hard, sobbing cry.

Tina Nunez, Indiana

Talking to my doctor about exercise, I said I had horses to ride and feed, a barn to clean, a fence to fix fence, etc.—then mentioned that my horses also kept me from needing a psychiatrist. After a pause, he replied, “A psychiatrist would be cheaper.”

Brenda Nesbitt, Michigan

No matter how stressful my day’s been, when I brush my gelding Noche’s face and he drops his head, I relax completely. He was abused and has had to learn to trust. Seeing how far he’s come is wonderfully satisfying.

Lisa Wingebach, California

At the end of a bad day, when I put my arms around my Appaloosa gelding Willie’s neck and breathe in the sweet scent of his warm body…that melts away every bit of my stress.

Wendy Kunst, Tennessee

My mare keeps my mind focused on her—and off whatever may be bothering me—whenever we spend time together.

Megan D’Andrea, Ohio

Just hugging Dakota, my 34-year-old mare, melts my stress away and resets my biorhythms within 15 seconds. Better than any tranquilizer out there.

Karen Luckett, California

In our crazy-busy, overextended, stressed-out world, I find the most important thing to relieve my stress is to be present in the moment. And because my horse is a mirror of what I’m feeling, being around him reminds me to stay in the now. Carpé Ridem!

Connie Merritt Hughes, California

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