Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Many folks focus on weight loss, but have you considered making a goal to improve your mental health? Mental health issues in this country continue to spiral out of control, so take this time to evaluate your physical and psychological well-being.
Before you book that appointment for counseling, you might consider a different form of therapy. Horses can benefit your mental health, and equine therapy may be just what you need.
Understanding the Healing Bond with Horses
While equine therapy has long been used to help folks with mental and behavioral issues, its origins can be traced back to ancient Greece. In fact, equines were used for this purpose as early as 600 B.C. However, the modern-day concept came from the Scandinavian countries after they had experienced the Poliomyelitis outbreak.
In the 1940s, experts found that horses tend to mirror the emotions of humans, so they used these tendencies to form healing bonds. Over time, they found that people who engaged in relationships with equines were less anxious, had improved mental health and elevated mood.
Part of the beautiful relationship comes from horses being emotional animals, so they can pick up on how the human is feeling. They can react based on those emotions and provide comfort. While the calm a horse offers is quite different from that of a dog/cat, it’s still a powerful bond with benefits.
Therapeutic horseback, and equine therapy, became famous in 1960 in both the U.S. and Canada. Today it’s called EAT or equine-assisted treatment, and experts increasingly recognize the popularity of these methods for their benefits.
Various Types of Equine Therapy
Equine Assisted Therapy consists of riding horses, learning about their care, and engaging in various activities. Your treatment plan is individualized and caters to your specific needs. Here are some of the therapy styles commonly used:
It’s estimated that more than 40 million people in this country suffer from anxiety disorders. It’s easy to be anxious and fearful of tomorrow when things seem uncertain. Psychotherapy uses basic chores like feeding and grooming.
When caring for a horse, a different type of bond forms than those who ride equines for pleasure. This is a relatively new aspect of equine therapy, as it’s only been around since the 1990s in this country.
Horseback riding is often done for fun, but you will also see it’s used among the disabled community. It feels less like work enjoying a nice ride with an equine, and it can help improve mental resilience, focus, confidence levels, and muscle tone.
•Cognitive Equine Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been used for decades to help people change their thought processes to combat depression and anxiety. However, equine cognitive treatment takes it one step further. Under the direction of a trained therapist, they utilize the horse’s altering senses to combat angst.
Benefits of Equine Bonds
Expressing your feelings is often challenging when you’re struggling with mental health issues. You’re a ball of emotions and unsure how to sort it out. Thankfully, horses help you build close associations to express those feelings in ways you never knew possible.
Animals and humans have a powerful bond, and each animal has unique abilities that can be therapeutic. Another thing that many struggle with is setting boundaries, and horses can also help with this aspect. Since equines are large, magnificent creatures, you learn to respect them based on their expression. You can quickly discover the importance of not crossing boundaries when working with a horse.
Setting boundaries is essential for your mental health, and learning to say “no” is something you should focus on in the new year. I know that when we take too much on our plates, we overload our bodies and minds. Part of what I love about equines is how much they’ve helped me through tough times.
These massive animals are gentle and soothing and very real in their relationships. They don’t pretend, judge, or care to express their feelings.
Making it the Best Year Yet
It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past; it’s time to look to the future. I am so blessed to be surrounded by these fantastic horses every day. While I don’t go to “equine therapy” properly, I reap the benefits of the relationship with them. This year, I want to do more to improve my mental health and be a better person.
There are always ways to enhance your life, and a new year is a perfect time to adjust. If you or anyone you know needs retirement care for your equines, you should consider Oak Haven Acres. We’re not just another boarding facility; we love and care about these animals and strive to form associations with each one. It’s a win-win for us, as these relationships are beneficial in many ways.