Horses for Mental Health?
What does learning about horses have to do with our mental health and well-being?
At Ruby’s Home for Good, we take a unique approach to horsemanship - one that prioritizes mutually beneficial interactions between horses and people, and therefore emphasizes viewing our interactions from the horse’s perspective.
I AM SAFE
From the horse’s perspective, safety is #1. Safety in relationships, safety in the environment, safety as demonstrated by the awareness of those around them.
In learning how to be a safe place for a horse, we learn about -
How to facilitate relaxation
Why relaxation is an important starting point for our relationship.
We learn to be more aware, more present, to breathe deeper, and be more in tune with our environment as well as those around us.
We also learn how to check in with our own sense of safety, honoring what is true for each of us individually.
I AM LISTENING
Having a voice, feeling seen and understood is an important aspect of a healthy relationship, for people and horses. Communicating to our horse that we are listening to them takes patience, consideration, critical thinking, and a distinct lack of both ego and judgment.
Rather than jumping right into dictating to the horse what to do and how to do it,
we ask questions. Wait for a response, adjust or proceed based on their feedback. We invite the horse to tell us what we mean to them, what they need from us, where we align and even when we take a misstep. No right or wrong, just awareness and information.
Not listening to respond, but rather listening to understand. To build connection.
I MAKE SENSE
Building language between species takes incredible awareness, task analysis, problem solving, compassion, and openness.
Rather than relying on force, we offer to our horses a suggestion and give them space to respond. We converse, step by step, always with a keen understanding of the horse’s feedback as a direct view of what they understand from us. The more we converse in a way that makes sense and brings understanding, without threatening our sense of self or personal safety, the greater our bond.
Social connection has a significant impact on our overall mental health and well-being. With the horses, we not only practice critical skills for relationship building, but also enjoy the many well established benefits of being with horses. Improved physical, emotional, and mental health indicators reinforce the value of our program and highlight the many gifts of these beautiful animals.