How Horses Help Kids With Emotional and Behavioral Issues

Kids with emotional and behavioral issues often have low self-esteem and difficulty connecting with other people. Many times, they are unable to express their feelings. Working with a horse is an effective way for these children to work through some of their problems. Here’s why:

Children identify with the vulnerability of animals, and often, in fact, rank them as equals. It’s easy for kids to project their own wants and needs onto an animal, to tell their own stories from an animal’s point of view, and then to be able to think through their own behaviors and rehearse healthier solutions to problems.

The bond that a child develops with a horse can also be integrated into human connections outside of the stable. A horse is a safe and non-judgmental ear in which to express emotions and the relationship with this animal is one in which a child feels heard. And if a horse listens to the child and even loves him, it’s easy enough for him to believe that others will, too. A child’s own growing love and compassion for the animal can offer an opportunity to practice forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

The process of caring for a horse can raise self-esteem greatly. It’s natural to feel intimidated by such a large animal; moving past this fear to work with the horse can be a source of pride, as are developing horsemanship skills, organizing equipment and supplies, and making decisions in regard to training. The competence and confidence gained while working with a horse can gradually be carried over into other areas of life.