Since late 2016, I have been reflecting on the issue of people who own horses but don’t want to ride. This can be a fear based anxiety in that they are scared to ride, that they are physically unable to or can be that they simply enjoy the companionship that they have with their horse and don’t feel the need to ride.
Obviously if you do want to ride, but are stopped by nervousness, anxiety or fear, that is something that would be beneficial to explore to assist you move past this restricting mindset / blockage(s). There are several activities that you can do to assist you on this, but this is not what I want to talk about today.
The topic of today’s blog is to reassure you that there is absolutely nothing wrong or “less than” with enjoying your horse’s companionship on the ground only. There are tremendous amounts of research done on the positive effects of equine assisted therapy / equine assisted coaching. Schultz, Remick-Barlow & Robbins (2006) published research on the positive mental health benefits of equine assisted therapy with children who experienced intra-family violence. Another research paper by Burgon, H.L (2011) also supported the positive benefits to “at-risk” children as did a paper by Yorke, J., Nugent, W., Strand, E., Bolen, R., New, J. & Davis, C. (2012) looking at the impact on cortisol levels of children and horses. By the way, Cortisol is a hormone released during periods of stress ?.
Unfortunately, during a small research survey I did in 2016, it became apparent that many people feel judged by other riders due to their lack of riding. I’m wanting to say it’s OK. You can receive incredible health benefits just by being on the ground with your horse! You also can compete too! Think about “in-hand” classes, working equitation on the ground, obstacles, even things like carriage driving if that is more your style. What is done in the saddle should be established on the ground first anyway! McLean, A. & McLean, M. (2008) from the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre state, “research suggests that the quality of in-hand responses is strongly related to the quality of responses under-saddle, so thorough in-hand training is vital in establishing this firm foundation.”
So, next time you feel judged or looked down upon because you only work with your horse on the ground, change your mindset and think of this as benefiting you, your horse AND establishing a rock-solid foundation.
That brings me to this week’s quote:
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Anonymous