How horses can help with poor mental health

How horses can help with poor mental health

By Jo Corfield of Hopethruhorses

Hundreds of people, adults and children alike find horses become their counsellors and teachers.  If you allow them to, they can give you hope too.   

Watching a group of horses grazing quietly in a field represents all we long for: beauty, freedom, peace, a quiet mind and permission to enjoy being alive. Spending a few moments in their company can bring out our worst fears or feelings of intense joy and love. With understanding and guidance horses teach us to acknowledge and deal with our thoughts and responses and turn them into something both positive and beneficial.

Whether we are battling with an eating disorder, panic attacks or depression, fear is our greatest enemy; fear is the cause and the effect.

All emotions originate in thought and our thoughts come from our interpretation of our life long experiences. We relive them each time we encounter a similar situation; if it’s a fearful one, we relive the fear. We fan the fire allowing it to spread and grow; our panic attacks get worse, we become thinner or fatter or we plunge deeper into depression.

Horses have a deep understanding of fear and how to manage it; with their help we can stem the flow or decrease the ever increasing circles of thought by quietening our minds and re-learning how to think effectively and positively.

Horses are prey animals, sensitive, intuitive and intelligent. Humans are their natural predators and yet these beautiful creatures have chosen to work with us. They will give magnanimously and unconditionally if in return we make the effort to understand them and provide them with what they need most; freedom, companionship, natural nourishment and love.

A stressed or frightened horse responds to fear by fleeing - they run from perceived danger until they feel safe and then stop.  Having reached a safe distance their stress response dissipates and they relax. They are constantly aware of danger, but in the absence of an immediate threat they choose to remain peaceful, conserve energy and enjoy what they are experiencing.

Horses, given the freedom to do so, live quietly - they remain attentive and open minded. Life to them is a sensory experience, they use simple thought processes to find ways to expand that experience and only in a beneficial way.

Our fear is intangible and often unrecognisable as fear. We feel sure our eating disorder is all about needing to be thin or our depression or panic attacks could be helped if only the people around us would change and behave differently.  We tend to choose to live with its effects, hide, run away but never stop running or blame the world around us.  We can, like the horse choose to take responsibility and find a way to deal with it.

In a stunning rural setting, natural to both horse and human, endless emotionally troubled adults and children find they can connect to the soul of the horse. Through the horses’ responses, they see themselves clearly for the first time. This kind, accepting and non-judgmental approach to healing, has changed their minds, helping them see their lives from a very different and positive perspective.

To find out more about Equine Involvement Therapy and how horses can help you manage your emotional responses visit

Your rating: None Average: 7.5 (4 votes)