July 15th is National I Love Horses Day. December 13th is National Horse Day. March 1st is National Horse Protection Day. All of these days have the goal to celebrate the ways that horses have been important to the advancement of society and are deeply embedded in our American culture. They have helped to plow our fields, have pulled the wagons that take our produce into town, they have fought alongside us in battle, and helped us to forge into new territories.
I am a lifelong horse person. In addition to the socioeconomic importance of horses to our history, horses are important to the soul of the human. The adage “there is nothing so good for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” is so universally true that it has been attributed to multiple people, including Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan. It is so clear that horses can improve the mental and emotional health of humans that horses are widely used in therapy programs. In fact, horses are used for psychological therapy, cognitive therapy, post-traumatic stress therapy, grief therapy and physical therapy, among others. Here is a link to a typical equine-assisted therapy program in my neighborhood.
If you googled “equine-assisted therapy” in Colorado, you would find multiple programs all over our state. Some also will allow volunteers, and volunteering is also very good for the soul. Recently, the Temple Grandin Equine Center opened up at the National Western Complex to provide equine-assisted therapy. There are opportunities to observe the work being done there.
Riding horses provides me with an enhanced sense of freedom and power. I have to be totally out of my head and in the moment when I am riding my horses. This is how I manage my stress and how I refresh my perspective. It also teaches me valuable management skills, such as patience, reframing a request so that the other party can receive it, checking in that the other party is well and receptive, and so forth. The rhythm of a horse’s gaits also plugs into our souls in a deep sense and gives peace and happiness. Horses are also great equalizers: equestrian sports are the only Olympic sports where men and women compete equally, and often are among the oldest athletes in every Olympics.
So, on this National I Love Horses Day, I celebrate the therapeutic, restorative, and equalizing effects that come from these marvelous creatures. Happy riding!