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Equine Therapy: Three Ways To Boost Your Mood

equine therapyWith the holidays progressing rapidly, and the state of the economy on a fast decline, finding ways to improve mood is now more important than ever. However, as with most things, when they are needed most, is also when they are hardest to attain — think the ones who are hardest to love and how they need it the most. And while the truth is that being around horses will certainly not stop the difficult holiday reminders many people suffer, or in any way improve the economy (horse owners would attest to this point), but it just might make a person feel a little better in one of the following ways.

  1. Physiological Calming: Neurochemicals can be cunning little things. They rise often without their host’s awareness, and can wreak havoc on all sorts of health factors. To be sure, stress, and the physiological ramifications of it are now considered to be possibly even more predictive of a potential heart attack than levels of cholesterol or blood pressure.

    Given the dangers of elevated levels of epinephrine, cortisol, and dampened levels of serotonin, most people struggle when it comes to just how to lower them. Well, being around any animal has been demonstrated to be an effective way of calming the physiological system, and often due to their size and power, horses can have an even more pronounced effect on a person than other types of animals.

  2. Introduction to nature: Horses live outside, in nature, in rhythm with the natural world around them. Humans, on the other hand, effectively insulate themselves from the world around them through a variety of barriers from cell phones to high rises. Yet being connected to the world around themselves is a very important survival skill — and the statistics on the correlation between “distractions” and accidents is a very telling factor.

    Perhaps even more importantly, many people feel incredibly disconnected from those around them, while all the while, being presumably “connected,” via some form of wireless device. Simply spending time outside with another living being, absent the daily distractions is a very healthy, and very rejuvenating experience.

  3. Reduction of isolation: People, unlike horses, isolate when they feel sadness, shame, disappointment, or loneliness. Here again, we can learn a lesson from our equine friends. When feeling any of these emotions, horses immediately are surrounded by the herd (I talk in depth about this in several chapters of my book), even if moments before, a herd member was dominant over the upset horse. Interestingly, horses seem to have adopted the concept that the ones who are hardest to love, need it the most.

So, in a time when some mood boosting is needed, and the answers seem to disguise themselves, consider spending some time around a horse, as it just might provide the very experience that’s needed — with a few answers carefully hidden in the herd.

Young horse woman photo available from Shutterstock.

Equine Therapy: Three Ways To Boost Your Mood

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2011). Equine Therapy: Three Ways To Boost Your Mood. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 1 Dec 2011
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Dec 2011
Published on All rights reserved.