Skip to main content

Horses are pretty and good for your mental health

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness, reporter

Debuting this week is the inaugural “Seen Through Horses,” a national awareness and fundraising campaign sponsored through Horses for Mental Health coalition.
Fifty charity partners throughout the U.S. are the recipients of funds raised this week.
Rock Ranch near Hills is one of them.
Rock Ranch operates an equine-assisted counseling program along with its beginner horsemanship classes.
It’s not easy to explain how the large animals help one’s mind, but they do.
In a small way I’ve seen how these big animals have opened communication between me and the children I help learn basic horsemanship skills.
I’ve watched them come into the barn that first week walking very hesitantly and talking very little. I’ve watched them become partners with the mounts, so much so that they leave with a bounce in their step and a smile on the face during the last week.
Once they’ve made the connection with their horse, most never stop talking about how much they love their equine partner.
So why are horses good for therapy?
The answer goes back to them being prey animals that are highly intuitive to nonverbal messages and intentions.
Due to this characteristic, horses may respond to the surface beliefs, attitudes and unresolved trauma, which may be impacting our relationships and mental health. This natural, unbiased feedback supports those working through issues in a safe and powerful way.
Because of their size and presence, horses also create a sense of awe, which increases one’s emotional safety and encourages humans to be more engaged in their treatment process.
Horses also don’t hold the biases that are common in humans.
This non-judgmental experience provides an opportunity for relationship-building that can rewrite past trauma stories and provide present-moment connections to humans.
Horses help me with my mental health every day as I do basic barn chores or saddle up for a ride.
They are appreciative in the twice-a-day feedings by giving me soft nickers or standing for a pat on the head or a rub on the neck before digging into their hay.
It’s quiet in the barn.
The world’s busyness seems to slow and one can breathe. Personal concerns become less of a focus during these times as positive thoughts begin to flow into one’s brain.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day.
As Lori Sorensen pointed out in “A suicide note from a grieving mother” in the Sept. 22 edition of the Star Herald, mental health treatment needs to become as accepted as treating diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
As a nonprofit, Rock Ranch offers that treatment to anyone, whether they can afford the cost of care or not. They can do this through donations from us.
Go to https://horsesformental and choose the Minnesota Seen Thorough Horses designeeRock Ranch.
The Horses for Mental Health campaign is open through Monday.

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.