Horses – the best antidepressant

They teach us strength and staying with something until we achieve it. We sometimes need to reach deep inside to find our inner courage, but when we do, we benefit.

As an equestrian I can attest to one truism – horses bring me amazing joy. In a busy, stressful world where we fight to smile during the day, it’s the greatest feeling to see my horse and feel the pressures and stresses of the day disappear. It’s hard to describe to non-horse people, but it’s a whole body release of stress in one fell swoop.

When you are with a horse, your entire being is centered around that horse. You cannot pick up your phone and text, unless you are sending a selfie of you and your horse; you can’t worry about outside problems because the horse is literally EVERYTHING to you at that moment.

As an equine behaviorist, for our equine assisted therapy counseling sessions, I can attest first hand that horses do wonders for our mental health. I see the benefits every time our counselors have an equine assisted therapy session.

I believe that growing up around horses has helped with my own regulation and control of my emotions. From a young age, being around horses forced me to deal with an emotional animal on a minute-by-minute basis with immediate feedback to me.

Horses keep us moving and motivated. Even if we would rather stay warm and snug in our beds, we must get up to feed and clean them daily. They need us and through that need we discover things we wouldn’t experience otherwise.

Horses force us out of our comfort zone. They teach us strength and staying with something until we achieve it. We sometimes need to reach deep inside to find our inner courage, but when we do, we benefit.

Horses give us tools to put in our tool belt of life. Horses have the ability to help us grow emotionally. As we become understanding and encouraging of them, we learn to do rather than avoid situations, because sometimes there’s no other choice.

Horses make us think outside the box to question “why” something is occurring and to think about it from another’s point of view. They make us problem solvers and teach us to control our frustration and anger. They force us to let go of the past and live in the present. They teach us “mindfulness,” how to be in the moment. They prove to us every day is new and if we work hard enough we can be successful.

Horses also teach us that life isn’t fair, but the sun will come up tomorrow and you need to make the best of the situation you have been given; so slow down and enjoy the moment. Horses show us what love is and how powerful that silent language can be.

Horses do more for our mental state of mind than most realize, so don’t ever feel guilty for the time spent with horses.

“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

−Winston S. Churchill

Happy Trails!

LORI RICIGLIANO is a horse judge, trainer, riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She also hosts a weekly syndicated equine radio talk show “Hoof Beats with Lori”. Lori has held her horse judges license as a USEF / AHA — “R” rated licensed horse judge for more than 25 years and currently operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached by email or phone for any questions at 218- 557-8762 or riciglianofarms@gmail. com. Her website is www. RiciglianoFarms.com

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