Melissa has learned first-hand the healing power of horses. They seem to “know” how you are feeling and want to help. They know who is safe, and who is not. Typically, horses will shy away from fast movements and loud noises, but I have seen them gravitate towards a playful child that is noisy and excited to see them. They just ‘know’.
This makes them the perfect mirror for individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, behavioral issues and emotion regulation problems. Their ‘knowing’ cues back to us our own inner thoughts and feelings related to confidence, trust, social skills, impulse control, self-efficacy, communication, boundary, and relationship issues. Since horses have similar behaviors to humans and are honest in their responses, creating a connection with a horse is powerful exercise in finding our relationship strengths and they mirror back to us what needs improvement. Equine-assisted Therapy (EAT) is a treatment approach that includes activities with the horse in an equine environment. EAT has been demonstrated to benefit individuals with anxiety, depression, PTSD, sensory integration issues, and emotion regulation problems.
Horse as Therapy Assistant
Horses are non-judgmental and are not biased by a person’s past or their physical appearance. They take you for face value and respond to your behavior and emotions. A horse can hear your heartbeat from 4 feet away (some say 8 feet away) and tend to synchronize their heart to the person they are working with. They ‘know’ our hearts and respond to our emotions. The horse sees you – and it is comforting to be ‘felt’ by another heart.
Engaging in therapy at the Heart-Mind Center is about making person-centered changes, but often our family and friends do not see those changes right away. Horses will let you know immediately and give you the much-needed feedback, validation, and encouragement that is so important when trying to improve ourselves.
Horses Provide a Real-Life Metaphor
Horses provide an experiential environment to see our real-life problems play out in developing a relationship with the horse and gives us the opportunity to work out healthy ways to address our issues. For many with behavioral and emotional issues, it is not always easy to put words to what one is feeling or even identify what is going on inside ourselves while we experienc our day-to-day challenges. The horse’s ability to honestly mirror back, and sometimes even the horse’s story of abuse and neglect, will help us better understand, problem-solve, and cope with troubling issues.
Melissa was trained in EAT by Greg Kersten, a founding director of EAGALA and he now operates the O.K. Corral Series for certification in EAT. All equine therapy at the Heart-Mind Center, LLC is ground work. The Heart-Mind Center does offer therapeutic riding services, but
when the individual is ready, there are several therapeutic riding center available that Melissa can make a referral to.