Becoming the Awesome Person You Are!

Often times when people are around the horses in equine therapy they realize their lack of self confidence, which the horse picks up on. You are amazing! In this article from Psych Central, we will go over why “messing up” is OKAY and makes you the awesome person you are!

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The problem of rating the totality of yourself as good or bad, rather than rating your actions, or behaviors, is that you are setting yourself up to be an emotional mess.

When we make the mistake of rating ourselves as good or bad, we feel miserable for not thinking we’re good enough. Or, when we rate ourselves as good, we run the risk of setting ourselves up to feel bad when we fail at something. Either way, we’re in trouble.

Humans cannot be all good or all bad. So rating yourself this way is totally irrational. Learn to let go of this old rating system and you will feel better about yourself.

Today you may screw up that report for your boss. You may forget to wish your wife a happy anniversary, and you may act selfishly and somebody else might feel hurt. But that makes you human, as human as anyone else. For all those things that you do that may not be so great, there will be a million things that you do that are stunning. Yet most of those actions you won’t even recognize, or remember, as they’re automatic.

Yes, you are a flawed human being — but you are also amazing for it, not despite it.”

Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/21/you-are-amazing/

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Meditating, Equine Therapy, and Mental Illness

Meditating and equine therapy can both go hand in hand to beating mental illnesses. Here is someone who is an avid meditator that talks about their mental illness. 

“Since I have become a disciplined meditator I have had little difficulty with my bipolar disorder. It is only natural to wonder if I could manage as well if I continued to meditate and came off the drugs. In fact, it is very tempting.

But my doctor advises me not to and, after much reflection and concern for my family, I agree. Just as I couldn’t manage this well without the meditation, much research evidence supports the idea that I couldn’t manage without the medication either. I’m not willing to take the chance.

Every person with mental illness to whom I have taught meditation has asked me if I think serious mental illness can be cured. At this point, with what science has discovered, I don’t. But it can be managed, and managed well, if meditation is added to the medical model of drugs and therapy.

Just as the person with diabetes will take insulin indefinitely, I must continue to take my medicine. And just as one with diabetes must adopt a healthy lifestyle to best complement her medication, the person with mental illness must as well. What I am sure of is that meditation is one of the best complements available.”

Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/15/meditation-as-an-adjunct-the…

Horse Behavioral Problem Evaluation

While many of the horses in equine assisted therapy don’t have behavioral problems, there are often times a large number of mis-behaving horses under saddle. Here we will review a study about this problem and you can read more on TheHorse.com 

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“As many as 91% of leisure riding horses in the United Kingdom exhibit some sort of behavior problem under saddle on a regular basis, said Jo S. Hockenhull, PhD, of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Bristol, England.

In the study, Hockenhull explained that behavior problems in riding horses in the U.K. could compromise the use of those horses in a leisure fashion and possibly lead to riders selling mounts that behave poorly under saddle. To better understand the prevalence of behavior problems, Hockenhull created an online survey about behavior under saddle that owners of 1,326 horses completed over the course of one year. The survey asked respondents to think only back to the previous week when answering the questions on a scale of 1 to 5 (“never” to “frequently”). The vast majority (91%) reported some sort of problem behavior.

Of the 1,326 horses, 78% were ridden with artificial aids—such as martingales, whips, or flash nosebands—to control their behavior, she said.

According to Hockenhull, this could be reason for concern.

“Poor riding may lead to the development of behavioral problems or learned helplessness in ridden horses, and these problems may be exacerbated as the owner attempts to address the problem by increasing the intensity of the aids or the complexity of the tack used to control the horse,” she said. Horses with ongoing or increasing ridden behavior problems are at greater risk of changing hands or euthanasia, she added.

Even so, most of the ridden behavior problems in the study revealed minor issues that were more likely to be “irritating to a rider rather than dangerous,” Hockenhull said. Bucking was rare (only 17% of the horses), and rearing and bolting were very rare (7% and 3%, respectively). The most common problems were shying (50%)—which can be dangerous if it’s violent, she added—along with walking off before the rider has finished getting in the saddle (46%) and pulling or leaning on the bit (45%).

The good news, however, is that overall, leisure riders—at least in the U.K.—seem quite good at caring for their horses’ health and maintenance. A full 97% of the horses received annual dental exams, and more than a third received semiannual exams. Furthermore, 88% of the riders had had their horse’s saddle professionally checked for fit, and 61% had them professionally rechecked as often as once a year.

Hockenhull admitted that her results might be slightly affected by the survey’s voluntary design. Only people willingly responding to her requests to complete the online survey—through emails, online forum postings, and paper leaflets in riding stables—were included in the study.”

Source: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/31640/prevalence-of-horse-behavior-problems-…(TheHorse.com%252b-%252bNews)

Study on Horse Stress and Inexperienced Riders

Though you might think a horse’s stress level would increase with inexperienced rider, they actually don’t according to this study posted on Thehorse.com. In equine therapy we have horses that are even trained to be very calm and have very low stress levels. 

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“In their study, von Lewinski and colleagues investigated 16 German sport horses and 16 riders in a jumping pattern of seven jumps (at a maximum height of 97 centimeters, or 38 inches). Half the horses had participated in advanced-level show jumping competitions; the other half had just completed basic training and had never completed a full jumping course. The riders themselves were divided into groups of either high-level professional riders or amateur riding students. (All riders had sufficient experience to safely ride the horses over jumps, von Lewinski added.)

Each rider rode an experienced horse and an inexperienced horse over the jumping course, and each horse was ridden by an experienced and inexperienced rider. The researchers evaluated both horses’ and riders’ salivary cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels and heart rates before and immediately after the course. They also measured heart rates during the jumping round.

“The stress response of the horses was not affected by the level of experience of their riders and, in particular, not increased when the horses were ridden by less experienced riders,” von Lewinski said. “But for the riders, both their own experience and that of their equine partner influenced their stress response.””

Source: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/31587/study-horses-not-stressed-by-inexperie…(TheHorse.com%252b-%252bNews)

When Silence is Enough

Actions do almost always speak louder than words, especially in horse therapy where we use non-verbal communication. Silence might just be thr right thing if someone is undergoing a heavy time of grief. 

“I remember when my grandfather died unexpectedly. I got the call from my parents while I was at my freshman college roommate’s house. My cell phone had no coverage in that tiny Michigan town, so my dad had called my roommate’s parents’ house. My roommate’s mother looked concerned as she handed me the phone. She didn’t walk away.

When I’d heard the news, my roommate’s mother immediately pushed a box of tissues my way and went to the stove to pan-fry French toast, handing me a plate with a fork ready to go. I remember as I cried and took bites of that syrup-drenched bread, she told me stories of when she lost her grandfather. The kindness was real; the words were well-intentioned. Yet I can’t remember anything she said, nor was I comforted by any of it. What lingers is that memory of the French toast, her maternal presence, her action in my grief.

Life’s tragic occurrences pop up more often than we would hope in the lives of the people we love. Yet few people have mastered the art of responding well to heavy news. We’re simply not all trained in the art of listening. Professional counselors and psychiatrists are the ones who know how to listen and what is most helpful to say in response. They understand what kinds of comments a grieving person will receive as helpful, and likewise, the type of comments that will sting, irritate, and fall flat.

I spend a lot of time in the car with nothing to do except steer and soak up radio waves. After I listened to the radio host say “I wish they had never said anything in the first place” so bluntly, I pondered his response. Was it too harsh to react to his friends this way? Did he have a right to request his friends’ silence, like the Biblical character of Job? Job endured endless words from his three unhelpful friends in the midst of losing everything.”

Source: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/03/13/what-to-say-when-theres-noth…