Feeling stressed? Do horses help?

I know that I am stressed when I can not train my horse. Follow this thinking for just a minute. I CAN still ride my horse, be with my horse, enjoy my horse…but I cannot TRAIN my horse when I am stressed.


I know why this is. It is because when I am extremely stressed I am not emotionally balanced. I don’t have enough strength at that moment to ‘give’ to my horse. In other people I sometimes see them take their frustration out on the horse without even understanding where it comes from.

I think ‘stress’ should have a side effect list like those TV commercials: (this is not a medical list…just me writing)

Warning stress may cause: rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness; bizarre behavior; bloody or black, tarry stools; blurred vision; confusion; dark urine; decreased concentration; decreased coordination; excessive sweating; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever or chills; hallucinations; memory loss; mouth sores or ulcers; new or worsening mental or mood changes (eg, aggressiveness, agitation, anxiety, depression, hostility, impulsiveness, irritability, panic attacks, restlessness); pale stools; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe or persistent dizziness or headache; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; severe or persistent trouble sleeping; sluggishness; stiff muscles; stomach pain; suicidal thoughts or attempts; tremor; trouble urinating or change in the amount of urine produced; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual weakness; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; yellowing of the skin or eyes.


  1. Patricia on December 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Ride day the cure to stress. I am fortunate enough to live near Yosemite and the Sierra National Forest. My friends and I take weekly trail rides. It keeps us out of the Therapist Office and has gotten us though some hard times. We believe in Saddle Therapy.

  2. Laura Stein on December 21, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Obviously a lot of the stresses in daily life are unavoidable, but it is great to be reminded to check ourselves so that we will regulate our actions and words with those around us (people and horses). Once a young horse bucked me off when I was training her, and I realized I had been answering a call on my mobile phone during the saddling time, as well as being in a hurry. After I got up from the ground, our barn helper, who is perhaps a bit autistic, said calmly, “I felt that one coming.”
    It’s a good idea to ‘breathe’ with the horses before we begin our riding time. When we are in step with them our emotions and communication flows naturally back and forth between horse and rider.

  3. Amanda Accordino on December 20, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Horses help me! but i most definitely have seen those taking stress out ON their horses.

  4. Kathleen Irby on December 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I can so relate to this blog. I can’t even ride when I’m over stressed because I’m afraid of upsetting the horse.

  5. Christianna Capra on December 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    You are so very right Stacy! As much as I love to be on a horse…and in time it may help me cool down…its not fair to them. If I arrive at the farm and am in foul mood or stressed out…its better to groom, or play with the horses…grooming for sure lowers heart rate and respiratory rates…HOWEVER I did try this out and it worked beautifully! NOT training so I agree on that note completely.
    I got to the farm after a particularly bad day at work, and it was evening in the summer the heat was subsiding and I really wanted to ride outside…but couldnt shake my angst…so I fessed up. I told my boy that I just had a rotten day and would love to sit on his back, to feel him close and to have him carry me…(metaphors maybe?) – but I got on with a bareback pad and halter – and we hacked in the fields and woods and even galloped – I was in the BEST mood after that ride! A ride with no work to do – just be! best medicine! 🙂

  6. Mary Beth on December 20, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    No kidding! The best part about riding and training is when you accomplish that feeling as if you are “one with your horse”. I’m stressed and I can’t even catch my horse in the paddock…and he’s normally like a dog following me around everywhere. I like to clean stalls and groom my horses to reduce stress. Its very relaxing and doesn’t require all the mental work of training.

  7. Gail on December 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    HORSES! Best medicine there is. I agree with you Stacy, I do not train when I am stressed or TIRED.

  8. Jenni on December 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Yes. Horses do help! Whenever I’m stressed, depressed, or just in a bad mood I go out to the barn! Just being in the presents of my horse is my own personal zen! My husband knows that when I walk out of the room and head to the barn without saying a word, that he should leave me alone and let me have my time with the animals I love! Now in the same token I would NEVER try any kind of training when stressed. I think of it this way, if I cant give my horse 100% of me than how could I expect her to give me 100% back?

  9. Anna Mae Gold on December 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    YES! Horses are mirrors and that makes them such fabulous teachers.

  10. Jeana Gilbert on December 20, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Fantastic post. People need to realize that the show scene can also be a source of stress. Especially with young horses. I have seen folks leaving the arena after a not-so-good ride and obviously out of frustration, begin the jerk, snatch and spur routine . If you leave the show pen and are aggrevated GET OFF and walk your horse around, whistle a tune or something and get your mind right. By the way I loved the side effects of stress. That made my day!

  11. Ellen Kelling Vukovic on December 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

    LOL I am recovering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a fall from my horse and suffer all the symptoms listed! When I am stressed/depressed/anxious or whatever, I don’t train my horse but I get comfort from being with her and doing barn chores. I groom her or clean stalls or just hang out with her. It has been very helpful in my recovery. In fact the doctor said if the barn makes me happy I should mentally take myself there when my recovery gets too overwhelming. Even though my injury occurred while riding, it is what I call a “no fault” accident. It just happened. And I thank God everyday for blessing me with horses in my life. My recovery will be long (> 1 yr.) but without horses it would be so much worse than what it has been.

  12. Janet Hall-Gilbert on December 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I have uses my houses as a way to releave my stress. Over the years I have made it a rule to check my additude at the gate and breathe. At theses times is when I try to live in the moment and let my horse just be a horse. Which is easier said then done, bit by the end of it I come away relaxed.

  13. Gwen Confalone on December 20, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I totally agree…..when I am stressed or even just in a hurry, I opt not to do any formal training. Instead I just go for a bareback pitty pat around the pasture, or even just sit out in the field with my horse. Its great stress relief. If I try to train when I am stressed, I only get myself more stressed and frustrate my horse at the same time.

  14. Shirley on December 20, 2011 at 9:42 am

    A few more side effects of stress- arguments, dysfunctional families sometimes resulting in divorce, breakdowns in communication and occasional outbursts of unreasonable anger.

  15. Juanita on December 20, 2011 at 9:32 am

    You are so right. We humans sometimes don’t even realize we are taking our frustrations out on others. Not a good time to be training. Our horses can feel our emotional stress and they react to it. I have seen it many times with my fellow riders. As you pointed out you can spend time doing other activities with your horse. When I was a young girl and in need of a good listener, there were many times when I would go to my horse and spill out all my troubles. They never judge you. And a good hug on a warm neck always seemed to help.

  16. Dawn Beard on December 20, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I love this because we need to regularly check ourselves. We should do a pre flight check on our horse and tack before we hop on (or get ready to drive) but very often folks don’t check themselves to read their own settings. It is a super thing to do and thanx for bringing it up as a topic. If it hasn’t happened to us then we probably know someone who was distracted/stressed and got into trouble or an accident because they were not in the proper frame of mind/body to work with their horse. The business of our horses resonating what we feel is no small deal… it is very real and an important part of the partnership.

  17. Tabitha on December 20, 2011 at 6:04 am

    well know all about this.This is so true

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