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Horses and mental health: In honour of World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2022

We all feel better after being at the yard. Why is that?

It is well-known that spending time with horses can improve your emotional wellbeing and state of mind. With it being World Mental Health Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to dive deeper into some of the evidence to support this.

“Horses, just by their large, gentle presence, put people therapeutically in touch with their own vitality” (Rothe et al. 2005).

Horses have been an essential and meaningful partner for humans throughout history and have often been recognised for their role in emotional management. Early mythology has even acknowledged the healing effect of horses, when it was said that a physician prescribed horse-riding for those with untreatable conditions as it would cheer their spirits (Kendall et al. 2014).

Often people describe the valuable effects of therapeutic interventions with horses. Research has pointed out that women in a Healing with Horses programme has a sense of overcoming their fears, the drive to take on new challenges, increased ability to focus in the here-and-now, and learned how to relax (Haylock and Cantril 2006). The literature indicates that the most common emotional benefits of horse riding include increased self-esteem, self-control and self-efficacy, improved motivation, better emotional well-being, and more stable social and interpersonal relationships. (Kendall et al. 2014)

A relationship with a horse can provide a person with opportunities for nurturance, intimacy, and physical affection. Experiencing a relationship with a horse can change your life.

Author: Corlia Meyer


Kendall, E., Maujean, A., Pepping, C.A. and Wright, J.J. 2014. Hypothesis about the psychological benefits of horses. EXPLORE 10 (2): 81-87.

Haylock, P.J. and Cantril, C.A. 2006. Healing with Horses: Fostering recovering from cancer with horses as therapists. EXPLORE 2 (3): 264-268.

Rother, E.Q., Vega, B.B., Torres, R.M., Soler, S.M.C. and Pazos. R.M.M. 2005. From kids and horses: Equine facilitated psychotherapy for children. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology 5(2): 373-383.