Horses have been vital in shaping human development. We have used their strength to carry us, pull us, plough fields for us, take us into war, feed us, entertain us (and even bankrupt us!). Using horses in therapy combines all of the above as it focuses on our RELATIONSHIP with the horse.
Horses live naturally in herds, they have distinct individual personalities, including fluctuating moods, just like humans. They can be playful, stubborn, shy and extravert and have defined roles in their herd, just like humans. Horses learn and imprint from experience and will fix on the last thing that happened, so if you treat them with kindness they respond to that and be gentle around you, if you are fearful or angry they respond and usually withdraw, even run away from you. Horses will usually only fight, bite or kick out, if they feel trapped and unable to run away, we see similar patterns of behaviour in humans too.
Horses need us to look after them, they need feeding, grooming and keeping clean, which requires discipline and responsibility. We need to do this for them when we keep them, we also need to do this for ourselves.
Documented research shows positive physical and psychological results from humans interacting with horses. These include, but are not limited to, decreased blood pressure and heart rate, lower levels of stress, reduced feelings of tension, anxiety, anger and hostility, as well as increased levels of beta-endorphins, and beneficial feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, patience and trust.
Equine assisted therapy.
The process is simple, we just encourage you to meet, greet, interact and care for the horses and ponies. We trust that any feelings, resistance, displays of "temperament" are congruent and can be explored and insight into our inner world is gained. We help people learn about how to care for the horses, what they need and how we can meet those needs, in doing so we talk through our own needs. We can use the horses mood and behaviour as a mirror of our own and then notice that as we gain confidence, so do they. This in turn helps to build our confidence in our own abilities which lays the foundation for increasing our self esteem.
This is carried out in the open air, the weather has to be pretty bad to drive us indoors. The combination of daylight and fresh air has always been a great tonic, especially when people have any form of depression. Very importantly, we are not alone when we do this work, we have one of these beautiful animals as our guides and companions. So often we can feel isolated when we are working on our own journeys. We also know that one of the greatest risks for people around suicide is feeling alone. Working with a horse therefore, which is less threatening in so many ways for many people than a human, is like have a trustworthy friend at your side. Spending therapy time with a horse that reacts to what you are doing can make all the difference as we struggle to overcome and change our ingrained beliefs and patterns of behaviour. Also not to be underestimated is the "wow" factor as we work with these magnificent beasts, and the deep sense of spiritual release as we walk among them out in the fields.
The very best way to get a sense of the power of the work is to come and experience it for yourself. Call me now for details, or go direct to Abi Helping Hooves.