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Equine therapy is gaining renown for being a beneficial modality to those recovering from trauma and the many coping mechanisms associated with trauma. Especially in those with PTSD, interacting with horses can provide comfort, build trust and confidence, as well as forge an intimate friendship unlike any other.


Horses have to be patient with their riders, caretakers, and owners- though they aren’t always. Likewise, riders, owners, and caretakers have to be patient with their horses. As much as we humans are individuals, horses, too are individuals. With tremendous amounts of power, an impatient horse can stomp and kick, buck and rear, and display their frustrations. Horses teach us to listen to ourselves, know when we’ve had enough, and learn to have patience.

Tuning into your environment

You can tell what is on a horse’s mind by their ears. Pinned back, a horse is threatened, angry, and about to take action. Perked up, alert, and facing forward, a horse is hyper-aware of something potentially harmful entering its environment. When a snake passes a horse’s trail, a horse usually spooks- jumping and running away. With practically 360 degree vision and hearing, horses are acutely aware of what is going on around them. Hypervigilance is not a recommended practice when you are recovering from trauma. However, you can learn a lot by mindfully being aware of your environment and making adjustments when necessary to cope.

Eat when you want to eat

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. This old adage proves true for humans, as well. We tend to think we have to do things a certain way and force ourselves into patterns that don’t work for who we are and how we prefer things. Granted, we do have to eat and we generally should eat at least three meals a day. The adage is less about food and water than it is about being willing in life. We might have tried to stop our addictions many times, put an end to the reliving of trauma ourselves, and rejected all other help. Until we were willing to be lead to water and drink it, we refused. Horses teach us that we move on our own pace, at our own time, empowered by the ability to make our own choices.