Interacting with a friendly animal can help with many physical and mental issues. Like physical exercise, it can release endorphins—the brain’s natural feel-good neurotransmitters—producing a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve a person’s overall psychological well-being.
Working with horses in particular has been shown to be therapeutic. Grooming, feeding, and simply observing the horses can help build self-esteem, confidence, and trust in teenage clients. In many cases, they have to overcome an initial hesitancy when it comes to interacting with such a large animal but once they make a connection with the horse, clients learn a lot about themselves and contribute positively to their cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being.
By engaging with the horse, individuals can learn to trust, be patient, and be in the present moment, all of which contribute to the positive mental health benefits. Horses have also been used to help individuals with certain behavioral issues and are very sensitive to changes in body language and behavior. Working with horses can help individuals learn to be more aware of how they act and how their actions affect other people, allowing them to develop better communication skills.
Participating in ranch work can also be rewarding. Cleaning barns and stables as well as tending to the horses offer experiences that allow clients to experience trust and teamwork. Working with farm animals and doing ranch work can have a strong therapeutic effect. It’s purposeful service work, not just passing time. The ranch animals will appreciate being fed and taking care of ranch animals can be an intuitive way of cultivating a life of purpose.