Friday, July 19, 2013

Feeling Down? Saddle Up

Depression can be debilitating. It can come out of no where and kick you from behind. Knocking you down for the count. Some people can't even manage to get out of bed when they are depressed. Have you suffered from depression before? Most people have been plagued with depression at some point in their life. New research is showing that horses can help lift your mood and get you on the road to recovery.

People with depression often have trouble focusing on the present instead of past/future events. Interestingly, being in the presence of a horse can help with this. Horses are prey animals and their survival depends on reading body language of the herd for potential dangers. When you interact with a horse you join their herd. Quickly they will begin reading your body language. So, if you are agitated, distracted or aggressive the horse will pick up this behavior and mirror it back to you. Instant feedback from the horse will guide your mood and behavior very quickly. A simple thirty minute connection with a horse can change your mood for hours.

This instant connection and having the horse accept you into it's herd can also alleviate many other symptoms of depression such as feeling lonely, isolated and misunderstood. You won't have the exhausting task of explaining anything to anyone or acting in a way you don't feel. Horses accept you for who you are as long as you are calm, peaceful and mindful. This can be comforting to a depression sufferer when it seems impossible to even smile. In addition, being accepted for who you are encourages healing. Horses have an ability to break through emotional walls and melt away facades, leaving you with a feeling of a whole new you!

Just being on the ground and grooming a horse has all of these positive effects but riding is an even better way to battle depression. Riding is physically strenuous for the core of your body. This physical activity wakes your body and will encourage it to release feel good endorphins after the exertion. Not only will you be releasing endorphins and getting fit, you will also be able to connect with nature.

Winston Churchill said, "there is something about the inside of a horse that is good for the inside of man". This quote couldn't be any more accurate. If you suffer from depression, this may be an option for you. Check out local horseback riding stables and take advantage of the positive effects horses can offer.

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