The Healing Magic of Horses
How is that horses can seemingly work miracles in humans? Reducing stress and improving social functioning by simply being near them?
Horses are being successfully incorporated into therapy to assist people from PTSD sufferers, domestic abuse survivors, children with autism, to being used to help enhance communication skills, develop self confidence, relieve stress and more. Interaction with horses has been shown to help humans decrease or reverse physiological and psychological reactions to stress and enhance coping mechanisms in various ways.
How do they do this? Well it’s less magic than it first appears, and is being strongly backed by science. And its got something to do with the huge hearts they have!
According to researchers, the heart has a larger electromagnetic field than the brain: A magnetometer can measure the heart's energy field radiating up to 8 to 10 feet around the human body.
Just one of the benefits of being in the presence of a majestic equine, is that the electromagnetic field projected by the horse's heart is five - eight times larger than the human one (imagine a sphere-shaped field that completely envelops you).
The horse's electromagnetic field has been measured up to ten times stronger than ours and can actually directly influence our own heart rhythm. Horses also have a "coherent" heart rhythm (heart rate pattern), and being around them often brings our own heart rate into a greater coherence and strength.
Health Benefits of Hanging out with Horses
Studies have found that a coherent heart pattern or HRV is a robust measure of well-being and consistent with emotional states of calm and joy--that is, we exhibit such patterns when we feel positive emotions. A coherent heart pattern is indicative of a system that can recover and adjust to stressful situations very efficiently. Often times, we only need to be in a horses presence to feel a sense of wellness and peace.
In fact, research led by Dr. Ellen Gehrke in collaboration with The Institute of HeartMath, shows that people experience many physiological benefits while interacting with horses, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased levels of beta-endorphins (neurotransmitters that serve as pain suppressors), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning; and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy.
There are many other health benefits from simply being in the space of a horse, that I will share another time. For now, if you have an opportunity to go and hug a horse, I highly recommend you do and see if you notice a change in your breathing and heartbeat! If you HAVE had the wonderful opportunity to hug or hangout with a horse recently, please post a photo below!
Recommended Reading: The Alchemy of Lightness (Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Dominque Barbier) Zen Mind, Zen Horse (Allan J. Hamilton, MD) Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling (Cynthia K. Chandler)
Hello! I'm Stef Winwood and I’m a Dressage rider, breeder and mindset coach combining my lifetime of riding and teaching with my NLP training for riding success. I am so passionate about helping riders like you transform your riding results from fearful and stuck to courageous and joyful.