Horses and Healing

How horses can help improve mental health.


When equestrians grow up and move on to adult life, they might find that it doesn’t necessarily include the horses they grew up loving. And that can be a harsh reality. For Barbara Jenkins, while she was moving to still work in the horse industry, she was leaving her horses behind in Arkansas.

“For the first time in my life, I couldn’t just walk outside and pet a horse,” she recalls. “When I up and moved to Ohio as a 24-year-old after having access to horses basically my whole life, it was a shocker. My job was horses, my passion was horses, my interest was horses, my hobby was horses, and I had nothing.”

The homesickness was hard to take, until she started to make connections that allowed her to breathe in that familiar cologne of hay, leather and horsehair. Trainer friends, such as NRHA Six Million Dollar Rider Shawn Flarida, invited her to come out to the barn and ride.

Those doses of horse therapy helped her reconnect to her lifelong passion and helped remind her of her true identity and happiness until she could have her horses back in her life on a daily basis.

So while it’s something all horsewomen and horsemen already know, horses not only have the power of being a dedicated listener and tear catchers, but they also possess a special ability to help even the darkest days.

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