Horses Heal Everyone!
Horses are very special and divine beings, who have been helping humans in many ways for thousands of years. Since they were first domesticated over 5000 years ago, horses have been intimately entwined with humans who have used them for everything from war, to transportation, locomotion, farming, and even food. In recent times however, the horse has become more of a companion and pleasure animal, and even a special type of healer.
Equine Facilitated Therapy (EFT) is a hands-on type of therapy, and even people who are afraid of horses or who have never ridden before can take part, as sessions may or may not involve riding. It is used to address a number of conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, eating disorders, relationship problems, anxiety and depression, and is a great complement to traditional psychotherapy.
There are many recognised benefits of equine therapy, including increased self-awareness, improved social skills, greater confidence, decreased blood pressure, decreased anxiety and fear, responding-not-reacting and anger management. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are alleviated and self-esteem and self-confidence increased. Studies have shown that human-animal interactions increase levels of oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone”. This in turn triggers an increase in trust towards others, enhances empathy and learning, lowers fear and anxiety, and improves pain management. Trust can slowly be regained through equine therapy.
Thanks to their advanced animal instincts, horses can easily read intentions and feelings. Horses can mirror human relationships, helping people to spot unhealthy patterns in their own interpersonal interactions.
Horses are also non-judgemental and this can play an important role in treating many conditions.
“Horses are naturally curious, social creatures who do not worry about ego, looks or qualifications. They do not think back and provide unconditional acceptance, a factor in the healing process.”
Karen Stollmeyer conducts EFT sessions at Sea View Stables, home of Horses Helping Humans in Maracas. As a rehabilitation specialist and yoga therapist, Karen is a firm believer in the power of horses and yoga to heal humans. She combines her knowledge and expertise as a hippo therapist, yoga therapist and rehabilitation specialist to create a unique and holistic approach to healing, self-development and empowerment using horse interaction, horseback riding, yoga and stress-management principles to facilitate deep and lasting improvements to one’s outlook on life and to help release the blockages and traumas that hold us back from experiencing our best lives and our best selves!