Guest Post by Chelsy Ranard
Riding a horse through the wilderness is a lot different than walking through the wilderness. Brushing your horse, feeding them a treat, or just spending time around them is a lot different than spending that time alone or with others. There’s just something about riding your horse, interacting with them, and bonding with them that is so much different than connecting with other animals or other people. Horses are wild, intelligent, and intuitive beings and you can feel that when you’re around them. Looking into their big, glossy eyes or watching them learn is an experience that cannot be matched and you can tell you’re communicating with an animal that is special.
There are lessons about trust when you spend time with a horse. Horses can be headstrong and independent and don’t trust just anyone. Building a relationship with a horse and gaining their trust enough to feel safe and connected to them takes a lot of work and time spent with them. This makes the connection you have with them more special. There are also lessons for those who have issues with trusting others just as there are for those who need to earn trust. Sometimes you need to let go and be vulnerable in order to get close to a horse, and that's an important lesson for many.
Taking care of a horse is great for your physical and mental health. Barn work, grooming, and riding are all activities necessary for your horse that also double as a great workout. Those who spend time around horses have been shown to have decreased blood pressure, lower stress levels, and reduced feelings of anxiety. Because of these benefits, equine therapy is a popular tool to use for those battling addiction, issues with PTSD, or autism. Those who own horses do not choose to do so lightly as they are a big responsibility and require an entire lifestyle change in order to take care of them. But those who do get the emotional and physical benefits associated with being around them.
All animals offer love, friendship, and comradery on some level. There’s nothing like an animal’s unconditional love and the benefit they have on people has been used to help those with serious illnesses, stressed out college students, or those struggling with depression. Unlike many pets like cats or dogs, horses are working animals and with the amount of strength a horse has, its important to have a trusting relationship in order to build camaraderie. Your horse has to trust that you are leading them safely in order to listen to your commands, and you have to trust that they won't throw you or it can be difficult saddling up. The camaraderie you’ll build with a horse is not just based on feeding them and showing them love, but also a working comradery that both of you work for.
Riding a horse, taking care of a horse, and connecting with a horse all inspire confidence. Riding a horse can be a daunting task for those who aren’t used to it or have had bad experiences with horses. They are wild and intelligent animals and deciding to ride such a strong animal gives people confidence to let go and trust the animal and their relationship with that animal. Taking care of a horse is a big responsibility and doing the hard work for them inspires confidence for independence, especially in young people understanding work ethic and independence. When it comes to confidence, there’s nothing like growing a relationship with a horse, taking care of it, and learning how to ride together all on your own.
Horses are good for us because horses are fun. Owning a horse is a serious commitment, but you don’t have to own a horse to experience all the benefits. Horses offer the camaraderie of owning an animal with the fun of a great activity. Horseback riding on a leisurely stroll, racing down a track, jumping, or barrel racing are all activities that are hard to explain to those who haven't experienced it. Horse lovers understand the connection and fun involved with being on a horse and connecting with such a smart animal. Understanding their quirks, getting to know their personality, working through their fears, and feeling the nose nudges are all a part of the fun in interacting with a horse and there is truly nothing like it.
Horses are good for us for so many reasons. People learn trust, see improvements in health, feel the camaraderie, gain confidence, and have fun while spending time around horses. Even on a smaller scale, spending time with horses are good for us on many physical and emotional levels. And, not only that, but the socialization and time spent helps them, too. Feeling a horse move under you, watching them respond to you, and trusting them completely is an unmatched experience that everyone should have.
About the Author: Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She loves animals, wood burns as a hobby, and enjoys trying new beer. Follow her on Twitter!