The documentary Free Reins shows just how popular equine-therapy has become, so much so that it’s now being used to help people suffering from a range of issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, autism, and even mood disorders. Different organizations have realized the amazing healing powers of horses and are training both animals and man to work together.
By working with horses, participants in equine therapy—from troubled teens to retired vets—get to learn skills that come in handy in their lives. In the process, people are increasingly realizing that just as they train horses, horses can train them too.
Horses Train Us To Be Good Listeners
A large part of working and communicating with horses involves paying attention to their nonverbal body language. The flick of an ear, a nudge or a stamping hoof can clearly convey a horse’s mood to those who listen keenly. This can go on to improve people’s communication skills by making them aware of others’ nonverbal cues.
Get Along With Others By Handling Horses
Horses are herd animals. Despite having very unique personalities, they all get along (most of the time) for the good of the whole herd. When working with them, you also become part of the herd, and you have to play nice and learn how to get the horses to accept and approach you. Similarly, you have to learn to respect and get along with other people.
Horses Can Help Us Overcome Fear And Grow Confident
Horses are large animals, and it’s no surprise that some find them frightening and intimidating. However, by getting to work with them, like in equine therapy, means that you have to confront and overcome your fear. This can boost your confidence and empower you to tackle other challenges in your life.
Become Self-Aware By Working With Horses
Part of the reason horses make such excellent therapy animals is due to their innately perceptive and intuitive nature. Horses can not only recognize human emotions but also recognize different moods and mirror them. If your horse is agitated, chances are you’re also agitated. If you’re calm and happy, your horse will relax around you.
A horse’s uncanny ability to recognize how you’re feeling and give instant feedback is an invaluable tool in self-awareness. By seeing your horse’s reaction, you can gain an understanding of your emotions and how they affect those around you.
Equines Can Show Us How To Trust Others
Horses don’t blame, judge, interrupt or ridicule you when you talk to them. Plus they always keep your secrets. Perhaps this is why so many who have a hard time opening up to therapists or counselors feel more comfortable connecting with horses. Having such a non-judgmental relationship can help people build trust, and the experience can then be applied to human relationships.
As more benefits of working with horses come to light, I hope that these amazing animals will continue sharing their secrets with us clumsy humans and continue to make us better people.
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