All of us at #TeamVE are familiar with the therapeutic benefits behind massage therapy for our equine athletes. We see and feel the changes after every session. We can feel a greater fluidity in their movements, and feel less knots in their soft tissues! We also know that these findings are based behind many scientific benefits of massaging our equine athletes….as we explored earlier this year in our Lovely Benefits of Massage blog!
But, did you know that the reverse is also true?
That’s right, horses are amazing at providing therapeutic massages for people.
Ha ha, okay kidding.
Although, sometimes you can direct those nose nuzzles just in the right spot, and get a pretty decent shoulder massage. There is definitely strength in those noses.
^^ this above sentence prompted me to research if the strength of a horse’s nose has ever been researched? I came back empty handed, so if anyone knows (or should I say ‘nose’) if that has been measured, holler at me. I wanna KNOW/NOSE! Because if any of us have been beside our horse when they unexpectedly twisted their head, we all know they could take us out with their noses if they really wanted to.
I did however learn that humans have about 350 olfactory receptor genes (the ORGs code for different smelling receptors that can detect different smells). Whereas, the horse has over 1000 ORGs..thereby I am making a deduction in that nose of theirs, they can smell more tings. Like carrots in pockets. And the faint whiff of grain on our palms. While this may seem like a high number, our barn dogs are thought to have over 300 million ORGs…*bulging eyes emoji*, so yes, when you are jusssst starting to unwrap the cheese wrapper on the counter, they can pretty much already taste that cheddar in their mouths.
I digress. Back to horses massaging people.
Although, it is unfortunate that our horses cannot massage us, our horses are pretty amazing at providing therapy for us HOOMANS. We have all heard about those wonderful EAL and EAT programs, where horses are used in therapy milieus to help children and adults address a range of physical and behavioral challenges. So incredible.
But did you know, you can create your own relaxing-therapeutic-magic with your horses every day?
On the #VEBlog today, learn 3 ways you can connect with your horses, (without even riding!), to experience the positive and therapeutic benefits of our marvelous equine creatures! We really are so blessed to be able to have these guys by our side every day. Wow.
1. GROOMING YOUR HORSE
I know, we hear this one all the time, and it was definitely a trending activity when we were a part of pony club. But it’s honestly such a great way to connect with your horse.
This is because horses will groom each other with their teeth as part of their social bonding experiences in their herd. And all of our horses were groomed by their mothers at a young age. Grooming mimics this feeling, and creates mutual feelings of calmness and camaraderie for both the horse, and for ourselves. Horses bond with horses, but all know that horses can also form insanely strong bonds with people, which ultimately creates those feelings of trust that horses have for people. So, if you are a person who struggles to bond with people or to trust people, horses are amazing outlets to build that trust with, and it can all start with the simple stroke of a brush.
Not to mention, grooming brings those natural oils to the surface baby, let’s get those GLOSSY COATS back into season for spring fashion week 2020. Out with that dusty winter coat business and in with that SHINE for 2020.
2. BE A SCIENTIST, OBSERVE YOUR HORSE
Scientists love to observe. We love to make observations, take notes, compare and contrast, and simply critically think about what we are observing. There are many of us who have the benefit of living on the same piece of land as our horses, but there are also many of us who board our horses. In either case, I want to ask you, when was the last time you stopped, and observed your horse. Life is busy. We get stuck in the motions of getting everything done on our to do lists, keeping up to date with media on coronavirus, scrolling on facebook, and we forget to take a beat.
Observing your horse is a great way to unwind from the hustle and bustle of our day to day operations. It’s a great way, to get escape our minds and just watch how another creature on the planet lives their lives, our little horsey creature nonetheless too! Walk into their pasture, sit on a nearby stump or rock, and just observe.
This is also a fantastic exercise to continue to get to know your horse a bit better. Sure, it’s a little Big Brother-esque, just sitting & watching. But it’s so peaceful and intriguing to see what their behaviors are like in the herd, or in the paddock, what feet they like to rest on, what forelimb they extend when they are grazing, what spot gets itchy, who they communicate with.
Ultimately, it’s a great reminder to see our horses, who don’t have any cares in the world….
Ok, well maybe they might have a care or two when that hay quad doesn’t slow down and stop in front of their paddock at dinner time…
…but for the most part our horses are happy and carefree, and spending some time observing that has a mirroring effect, and we get to soak up those same feelings. The more you can hone in on this calmness, the more you can apply this same calmness to when you are riding your horses. That calm feeling goes a long way under saddle, as it tells them “All is Cool”.
3. SIDE BY SIDE TIME
Gone are the days of those long walks on the beach with your partner. Now are the days of long walks in hand with your horses. Just like you go for a walk with your bestie, take a walk with your horse bestie.
A lot of the time we get to see our horse’s perspectives from the saddle. When you walk side by side with your horse, you get to experience life from their perspective. Another bonus, is being on their level is also a potential great eye opener to those scary plastic bags and puddles situated around the property.
This is an especially great exercise in the summer, where you can hand walk to new, fun and exciting grazing opportunities.
Walking side by side, also mimics what horses have been doing for thousands of years and that is walking side by side with their herd mates. Horses feel comforted with a herd. Be a part of their herd, and build their trust with some side by side action.
I remember when I started dating Jonny 7 years ago and we had an extensive conversation about friendships. I was so flabbergasted at the fact that him and his boy friends hardly talked with one another when they went fishing for 7 hours. Like- “excuse me, but what do you mean you didn’t ask Mark a million questions about his new girlfriend?” and don’t worry I am not going to delve into the tragedy that is normative male alexithymia, that has developed from the societal encouragement of toxic masculinity, because that is not the point. The point is, Jonny just responded with “I dunno, it’s side by side time”. Jonny and his friends experienced life together, side by side. They grew up together, side by side. Experiencing life side by side. And just like horses y’all some friendships are experienced side by side.
Take a page out of Jonny’s book, and spend some side by side time with your horses. You don’t need to spill the tea with them, or pop on their back to feel a connection, sometimes all you need is some side by side time.