Horses – majestic, beautiful and full of incredible power.
These creatures have been a part of my life for more than eleven years now and I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be the same without their positive influence. But, apart from their beauty and ability to make people fall in love with them, what exactly makes them so special?
Truth be told, this question used to give me a headache. To me, fully devoted horse person, the answer was more than obvious. If you love horses, you don’t feel the need to answer a question like that—you feel the answer inside your heart. However, through my life, I have encountered many equestrians and their horses to know that the bond between humans and horses is too powerful and also a little too complicated to be described in one word.
Now, let’s start with history. Horses have been impacting lives of humans on this planet for thousands of years. Many crucial battles had been won thanks to horses and many people had found their new homes also thanks to horses. People discovered a very long time ago that these four-legged creatures have the strength to move the human species yet another step forward—in both physical and historical way. Nowadays we see them as our beloved animals, sport-champions, and a very expensive hobby. It doesn’t end here, though. For some people, horses are just something more.
I heard about equine therapy—also known as equine-assisted therapy or hippotherapy—for the first time as a small kid while learning how to properly ride. I remember seeing people riding on horses and laughing together with their inductors. Year ago, when I began writing my graduation work, I decided to volunteer in a stable that organizes equine-assisted therapies. In just a week of helping during these special therapies, I started discovering that horses can do so much more than just move someone forward.
Imagine a person that is caged inside his/her own body. He/She cannot walk, talk or even use hands to communicate with people. Living a life like that is extremely hard and it’s an everyday battle. Now imagine the same person sitting on a horse, being able to actually move without the help of a wheelchair; smiling, laughing and observing every little thing that the horse does and therefore also connecting to other living beings without having to use any words. Suddenly, the battle is a little bit easier and life is a little bit more worth fighting for.
Nonetheless, this is not everything. Apart from professional riders and equine therapy patients, there are people like me—those devoted humans who are crazily in love with these creatures and who keep learning about horses’ ability to change lives through their ongoing work with them.
For the past year I have studied the way horses actively impact humans and realized that they do something special to not only the physical and mental parts of our beings, but to the social part, too. Their impact on our bodies and minds is therefore complex, which makes them a great tool through which we are able to:
- Exercise and increase the level of mobility,
- Rehabilitate without feeling chronic or acute pain,
- Improve our ability to maintain focus on different tasks,
- Stay in the present moment without the need to mentally exercise it beforehand,
- Actively increase the quality of our health,
- Learn different ways of communication and to be responsible for actions of an animal that is stronger and bigger than us,
- Connect to other living beings; accept and understand the differences.
Horses are not just something we may keep protected inside our hearts. They are our teachers because they show us that making a change is possible only through gentleness and compassion. They are our healers because they turn our world into a place that is more beautiful. And last but not least, they move our human world forward.
So, next time you feel like you need a change; like you struggle for some kind of inspiration and maybe a little bit of relaxation, don’t hesitate and get to know the magical power that horses are made of. And, if you fall in love with them, please support the work they do for us—it’s the only way how we can pay them back.
Written by Karla Rohová