Many years ago I volunteered at a therapeutic riding program. I was a “side walker”, helping children feel secure on the horses. The program that I worked for didn’t do vaulting, but I was amazed by how much confidence they gained from the experience: nonverbal children vocalized and the children beamed with the pleasure of their accomplishments.
Recently, a friend of mine told me how much a therapeutic riding program has helped her daughter, who suffers from autism. Most profound is that her daughter, who has trouble controlling her emotions, knows that when she is with horses, she must remain calm. And she does.
I think we all agree with the calming effect of horses. Now the Heart/Math Institute in California has a theory
“It turns out that all hearts radiate a magnetic field. The bigger the heart, the bigger the field. Horses have huge hearts. Being within a few feet of the magnetic field resonating from that centre seems to fill us with empathy. And horses, being social animals with a drive to connect, tend to follow up that empathy with connection.”
I’m not sure I buy into Heart/Math, but I definitely feel the empathy and the connection. Don’t you?