Horses are animals that humans have long been inspired by – from art like this horse sculpture www.gillparker.com to books, to films, our love of horses never seems to fade. Something else that has become apparent more recently is the benefit of horses to our mental wellbeing.
Mental illness is on the rise, and with so many people struggling with conditions like anxiety and depression, finding new ways to help them has never been more important. Equine therapy as it is known, uses horses to help heal the trauma of mental illness. Alongside talking therapies, it can be a valuable part of the recovery for someone who is suffering a mental illness.
Here are three ways that horses help mental wellbeing…
Interaction – It is commonly documented that animals can help us to relax. For example, a purring cat can help to reduce stress and lower the blood pressure and you only have to see the joy that dog owners get from their canines to see how enriching spending time with animals can be. Horses are no exception, and these gentle giants can form great bonds with people and be a calm and reassuring presence when their mind is in a state of turmoil. Horses are naturally sociable animals, in the wild they live in herds, and they are able to become attuned to the feelings of others, including humans.
Physical Exercise – Being physically active is a great way to help combat many mental illnesses, and spending time riding horses is a great form of exercise. It strengthens the core muscles and is also a good exercise for heart health. It also helps that horse riders naturally spend a lot of time out in nature, in the fresh air which can also significantly boost the mood. As well as riding, the activities that you can do with horses, such as cleaning and feeding, can be quite physical work too, and certainly helps to keep you fit!
Care – Because horses require a lot of care, this can be really helpful for someone who is suffering from mental illness. Doing these things to help the horses that are reliant on human care can be a great way to change the focus of the mind and can also give you a sense of greater perspective.