I am sure we can all agree that being around our horses makes us happier. But, it turns out, this relationship with your horse is not only good for your mental health, but your physical health as well. It has been established that the simple act of stroking a horse releases endorphins, (feel-good hormones), that counteract the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. This change in hormones reduces stress related health issues in humans such as insomnia, weight gain, depression, and anxiety.
In addition, we generally commune with horses in a natural setting. This amplifies the benefits of our horse/human connection as we also achieve an immediate connection with the beauty and simplicity of nature itself.
How does this happen? Something extraordinary occurs when we’re in the presence of a horse. Without the conduit of verbal language, we let go of the constraints and judgments that we cannot articulate (that are driven by our ego), and we allow ourselves to connect with our own inner animal. On a pure, spiritual level. When we connect with our inner animal we are able to connect on a deeper level with other animal species through the energy that is released.
When we work with horses we have the opportunity to do more than train the horse to perform for us. If we are willing, we can also go on a journey of self-discovery. Horses relate with people in a very raw and honest manner, completely attuned in the moment, because horses do not have an ego to filter their experience through. Therefore, horses can remain connected with the spiritual realm and are fully present. Horses respond to your emotional and physical cues. They are capable of seeing things in you that you may not even be aware of in yourself. They can sense what is happening within you through your energy state which is expressed in your movement, breathing patterns, and posture.
Your thoughts and feelings flow through you creating physiological changes that your horse will respond to. This means horses are powerful messengers: their feedback is uncompromisingly honest. Of course when we try to understand their response, we must consider any conditioning factors a horse might bring to the experience. So how do we deepen this connection and get these wonderful health benefits? There is no quick or easy way of building trust and a real connection with a horse. Good relationships take time. Remember that some horses have had positive experiences with humans, and some have not. Therefore, taking the time to develop this deeper connection can help you in understanding not only yourself, but your horse's behavior as well. Keep in mind, as the relationship develops and your horse offers a mirror to yourself, they can provide the reality of patterns and beliefs that you would otherwise prefer not to acknowledge. A good starting point is to try connecting with your horse by practicing a quiet, meditative state. Here are three steps that will help:
- Begin by stilling your body. We are typically so busy with our horses – always moving, touching them, and doing something. Instead, stand near him and keep your attention on him without all of the busyness – much like a herd mate would do. Share space and do nothing. Be still.
2. Keep your horse in your line of sight, but soften your gaze. You don’t have to look directly at your horse to have him in your field of vision. Be aware of your surroundings without concentrating or focusing on any one thing deliberately 3. Focus on your breath. Slow your breathing down to a nice rhythmic rate. You can count to four as you breathe in and four as you breathe out to find a nice slow rhythm. For more on yoga breathing to relieve stress click here These three simple steps are a great beginning. When you consciously find a calm inner state, you are connecting with your horse on a different level and you are sharing in the experience. This connection will improve your relationship AND your health! If you would like to buy a digital download of this post for .99 click here.
Peace and good riding,