The horse’s unique ability to mirror and respond to human behaviour with total acceptance is a powerful component of Equine‐assisted psychotherapy (EAP). A specialised and beautifully adaptive form of psychotherapy that uses the horse as a therapeutic tool, EAP is designed to address anxiety, depression, addiction, ADHD, OCD and autism and for support during emotional distress and disengagement.
According to Nina Leijerstam, Founder of Track Clinic: “When you interact with a horse, who is free to respond naturally, you uncover what’s going on in your subconscious. Horses have an instinctive ability to mirror your emotional energy and body language, responding in the moment to subtle changes in the body-mind states”.
When you consider the interplay between humans and horses in light of that natural emotional response unburdened by societal constructs, it’s easy to see how that meeting would spark a reaction in the human nervous system. That process, in itself, is freeing and therapeutic.
Human emotions are often expressed most honestly when non-verbal, with movement, body language and facial expressions offering a powerful tool to connect with, and be understood by, other living beings.
In matters of emotion, our bodies and sub-consciousnesses most often ‘know’ and understand before our consciousness does That moment of connection, understanding, peace and unity that comes when you lock eyes with a friend, a soulmate, is there with animals too, particularly horses. That spark of connection is at the core of animal therapy and its benefit is rooted in the very kernel of what it means to be alive – connection with other living beings.
The way we live now, with speed and constant connections (consider – when was the last time you wanted to know something and simply let it brew, without reaching for your phone to access the answer immediately) is unnatural. The thrilling pace of technology and ease of information has left us with a heightened sense of control, or being able TO control, our lives – the more we control, the less we respond naturally. So, we come full circle to a place where real interactions with other humans (and the boost of oxytocin that comes with that) are not happening through screens or over text messages.
It is in that space that heightened awareness and meaningful connections become all the more important. For some, the solution is simply a case of putting down the phone, looking up and making eye contact with a friend. For others, the knots to be unpicked are a bit more complicated and it is in that space that EAP provides an alternative that is well worth considering.
Check out our suggested EAP vendors here.