Coping With COVID-19: The Value of Horse Therapy
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have felt an ongoing sense of anxiousness or have been overwhelmed trying to keep up with the directives and guidelines that seem to be changing at a rapid pace. Now with the second wave officially declared in Ottawa and confirmed positive cases on the rise, our nerves may be getting the best of us once again. We have to take a step back from our families and loved ones in order to and work as a society to flatten the curve, but with the holiday season on the horizon, this may feel more stressful than it did the first time around.
In order to cope with everything going on, different strategies and self-care methods have been used everywhere. People have been actively taking breaks from social media, enjoying the outdoors, getting some exercise, or using the time that was once allotted for an early morning commute to get an extra hour of sleep before work. Whatever the method has been, it was in all likelihood a contributing factor in successfully dealing with and processing the current events in the world. One method of coping that deserves further discussion is equine-assisted therapy and the value that it brings to people who may be looking for alternative ways to ease any feelings of emotional disturbance.
Generally speaking, animals provide an abundance of emotional support, which is why many people have welcomed new fur babies into their homes this past spring and summer. While dogs and cats definitely provide therapeutic value in the home, horses have proven to be effective in the management of conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD. This type of therapy involves the use of horses by allowing people to engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, walking, and riding while helping to build self-confidence and a sense of responsibility while aiding in emotional regulation.
Because horses are such large animals, they require a good amount of attention and concentration when working with them. The last thing you want to do is spook one of these muscular, 800lb animals! The attention needed for their care is a good outlet of support for those dealing with stresses related to COVID-19 (among other stressors) because it allows for the person to be present at the moment, instead of working through the worry of the past, present, and future “what-if’s” surrounding the pandemic.
Whether you have a horse of your own, or you seek out equestrian farms for some 1:1 bonding, the benefits and therapeutic value of horses are in abundance. These big beautiful animals are loving, non-judgemental, and help with us with impulse control, confidence, and maintaining a sense of trust in ourselves and others. They also aid in our tolerance and adaptability, as well as improving independence and social relationships.
The level of stress brought on by the pandemic is different for everyone but finding healthy and effective ways to cope is important. If you are exhausting all your options and looking for a new approach, looking into riding lessons or volunteering with horses or other therapy animals to help yourself feel a sense of calm once again, despite the storm around us.
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