Working with horses requires the mindful presence of all the senses. Walking into even the most well-manicured of barns will produce a fluster of smells that wakes the brain up and brings it into the present moment. Physical interactions with horses also requires the presence of the senses. Horses give physical cues to their mood and temperament which, if crossed, could lead to a head butt, kick, being stepped on, or a runaway horse. Wild animals at heart, remarkably personality driven, independent, and often stubborn, working with horses demands total attention and presence of mind. From the beginning of an equine therapy session to the end, a client is experiencing sensory stimulation in all areas of sight, hearing, touching, and movement. Learning to ride, for example, is a vestibular experience, challenging the mind-body connection in the client through their own experience and through a connection to the mind-body experience of the horse as well.
Horses experience pain, emotion, trauma, movement, and fear in many of the same ways humans do. When a human bonds with a horse, they are creating a connection beyond that of man and animal. Humans and horses connect through the nervous systems. It takes time for a human to learn the nuances of a horse they are working with. Through mindful attention, a human and horse learn about each other through the interaction of their nervous systems. Breaking through the barrier of difference to find the relationship of similarities between human and horse is a breakthrough. In the relationship with a horse, clients find safety and trust, seeing themselves in their animal. Learning to trust, believe, have patience, give love, and receive love, clients can see a breakthrough in their treatment. They become more willing to open up in the therapeutic process, talk about their experiences with the horse, and gain insight through the scope of equine therapy.
Equine therapy contributes to recovery in other positive ways. Structure and routine are earned through the discipline of taking care of an animal. There are standard practices which a horse needs to be properly cared for. Discipline is a trait which is required for recovery as well as clients learn to create standards and routines of care for themselves. Clients also develop a system for reward and pleasure. Working with an animal can be challenging when that animal doesn’t want to be worked with. Patience and diligence results in pleasure and reward. Delayed gratification is a skill that, non-coincidentally, takes time to develop for those recovering from addiction. Addiction creates a habit of instant gratification. Horses can require a great amount of patients. Hard work and patience pays off, which creates reward and pleasure. Once the bond is formed and there is a response between horse and ride, a beautiful relationship is formed in a beautiful recovery.
Infinity Malibu offers regular equine therapy at multiple levels of care. Serving the greater Los Angeles area with luxury residential treatment and a full continuum of care, our programs offer cutting edge treatment for lasting recovery. Change your life, change your legacy. Start the legacy of your recovery today by calling us for more information: (888) 266-9048