As a dad, it has been a struggle to see my teenage son go through some emotional issues. He’s growing older, having a hard time adjusting to high school, social life, dating, and other stressful elements of no longer being a carefree little kid. Paying attention in class has become difficult for him. He is often depressed and uninterested in doing just about anything.
I want to have my own perfect answer to helping my son feel better and acquire mental health tools to help him live a successful and happy life. But I know that in the end, I’m not a professional. I love my son, and want nothing more than for him to be a totally happy, fulfilled adult someday. After considerable thought, I came to the conclusion that I should help him find a type of therapy that will help him function his best and feel better as he grows older.
When my son first began to show signs of some distraction, sadness, and other emotional issues, we put him in counseling at his high school. They actually offer really great options there. His counselor suggested that we put him in another, alternative type of therapy—one that has shown pretty amazing results in many teenaged boys across the country. It’s called equine therapy. That’s right, spending quality time with a horse. The unique kind of calm that a horse requires to really bond with a human is exactly what many kids need to learn, including my son.
Horse therapy has been known to help teens communicate in new ways, calm the storms that come with mood disorders, recover from trauma, focus with ADD, regulate their depression, and even overcome addictions.
The friendship between a horse and a human can be distinctly powerful. When a teen is experiencing inappropriate amounts of anger, or extreme sadness, a horse has the perfect remedy. If you’re angry, and a horse can sense it, they will want nothing to do with you and make that clear until you’ve settled down. If you’re volatile, a horse will behave the same way—sometimes even dropping you on your backside when they’re frustrated with your antics. When you are feeling sad, a horse can sense that feeling. I know that my son will benefit from learning these emotional lessons from a horse in equine therapy.
Each positive interaction and reaction with a horse in equine therapy teaches a teenager not only an important communication-related emotional lesson, but rewards them with a strong loving bond. In equine therapy, kids gain valuable life lessons. They also gain a real, loving animal friend. Working with a horse gives kids a real advantage at overcoming their emotional issues before they grow up and the emotional issues become a more serious problem.
While it’s hard to let my son go through this treatment without me there to micromanage, I’m confident that many good life skills will come of it. That’s all I can be, right?
Tyler Jacobson is a writer, father, and husband, with experience in outreach and content writing for parenting organizations and ranches for troubled teen boys. His areas of focus include: straightforward parenting, education tactics, problems from social media, mental illnesses, detrimental addictions, and issues teenagers struggle with today.