By now, you’ve heard of comfort dogs. They are allowed in stores, planes, and anywhere else with their owner on the premise that they are there for emotional support. Other comfort pets include cats, birds, and other rather “portable” animals. However, the list doesn’t have to end there.
It’s no secret how great a companion a horse can be. What little girl doesn’t dream of having a horse? They are stunning, brilliant, and active creatures who can be just as loyal to their owners as their owners are to them, but they can do more than simply gallop and look pretty.
“Learning to trust an animal such as a horse is very powerful in the development and restoration of trust for those whose ability to trust has been violated by difficult life experiences,” wrote Azmaira Maker, PhD.
Caring for a Horse can Reduce Stress Levels, Depression, and Anxiety
Frequently being with and caring for a horse can do wonders for those who are suffering from mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. “Horses can sense emotions that lurk beneath the surface of our awareness and mirror them back to us, showing us what we have been avoiding,” Diane Dreher, PhD, explained. It can even go so far as to lower the risk of heart disease as the comfort of a pet companion can lessen stress levels, causing a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol.
In fact, according to “The benefits of pets for human health” by Dana Casciotti, Ph.D. and Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D., research shows that those who are in the constant presence of a pet, tend to have healthier hearts as well as “stay home sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed”.
It has also been said that pets, including horses, “have a significant impact on [improving] allergies, asthma, social support, and social interactions with other people” as you may come across fellow horse lovers at the stables or get into a conversation about your horse with a neighbor at a party.
By increasing these interactions, feelings of isolation and loneliness are reduced, which reduces depression and anxiety along with it.
They are Great for all Age Groups
Taking care of and riding horses, if they are able, can benefit the elderly as it promotes higher mobility that their other daily activities prohibit. Caring for a pet can also enhance brain functions and motivation as it gives them constant responsibility and purpose, which will lessen the risk of depression.
As for children, depending on the time in which the horse is introduced to them, the chances for them to get allergies from the horses are decreased. Constance Scharff, PhD, wrote, “Caring for an animal like a horse allows children to learn how to care for others appropriately and at the same time can be a release from the stresses of home.”
If your child is interested in having a horse as a pet companion, it is best for your child to get accustomed to them at a rather young age.
A Reference to Horse Health
Having a horse as a source of comfort can be beneficial to one’s health in many ways, but since a horse is no average pet, you may need assistance in the maintenance of one. For information on health treatments, recommended diets, proper training, and constant interaction, where the wellness of you and your horse is a top priority.
Other Outlets for Relieving Stress and Treating Depression and Anxiety
Those who are still having issues with keeping their depression and anxiety in check, it is always encouraged to speak to a professional at BetterHelp (a provider of therapy online) so you can express yourself in a comforting environment.